Those of us who call ourselves Christians have an obligation to heed the call of the gospel to work with God to bring renewal and redemption to the world. At the very heart of our faith stands the example of Jesus, which we are called to follow in this profound command of the apostle Paul: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Phil. 2:3 NIV). Selfishness, vanity, and pride are antithetical to what it means to follow Jesus, and yet social privilege and bias exist for the purpose of seeking our own benefit, help privileged individuals to appear as the ideal, and are rooted in an obscene (if subconscious) sense of pride in one’s identities as superior to others. If we take the call of Jesus seriously, the it is imperative that we begin the hard work of self-assessment to discover our own implicit biases and areas in which we have been granted unearned privilege in ways that negatively impact those who are not like us.
This self-examination and reckoning with our own exploitation of privilege and our implicit bias isn’t only for the good of others, however. The subversive promise of Jesus is that when we are willing to give up our pursuit of our own benefit for the sake of others, that is when we truly receive the fulfillment that we’re all longing for. Working to be antiracist, antisexist, antihomophobic, antitransphobic, antixenophobic not only benefits the communities that have been historically harmed by our pursuit of such advantage, but it benefits the privileged as well.
When we begin to create a society where true equity is our chief aim, where our care for our neighbor drives us to selfless action on their behalf, when we seek to give more than we seek to store up for ourselves, that way of being will reap blessings in our soul and in our daily living. A more just and equitable society emerges, where we all are cared for and have access to the resources we need to thrive. We will even tap into the greatest blessing of all – that deep sense of knowing that we are being used as channels of God’s light and healing in the world, which at once fulfills our deepest longing and spurs us on to more service, more work, and more solidarity with marginalized communities. What could be more Christlike than that?
From “Filled to Be Emptied: The Path to Liberation for Privileged People” by Brandan Robertson – Westminster John Knox Press