Learning from the Difference

The 2016 election has split my Christian circles into three major groups.

One group I call the “God is in control” group. I know they mean well. I know they love Jesus, and some are unsure what to do with the anger and frustration some of us are expressing. At a very, very basic level I do not disagree with the suggestion that we should trust in God because God is in control. I just don’t believe that trusting in God relieves us of responsibility to engage in and with the world and people around us.

No one tells a parent of a baby not to worry about the baby crying and fussing by saying, “God is in control.” Of course the parent checks to see whether the baby is hungry, gassy, in need of a diaper change, in distress, or in need of physical contact. “Let go, let God” looks lovely in a frame on the wall. But in reality, letting God be God in our lives requires us to wrestle with what needs to be let go so we can discern what we are invited into.

The second group consists of people who are more vocal, engaged, and active on social media. They make sure the world knows they have watched Moonlight, Get Out, Hidden Figures, and I Am Not Your Negro. They publicly lament the lack of diversity at their churches or their friendship circles. They are quick to point out their willingness to listen and learn from people of color, and are taking this on with the passion and energy of a new believer who once was blind but now can see. This group wants to distance themselves as much as they can from the 81 percent of white evangelicals who voted for President Donald J. Trump. I call this group the #notallwhiteevangelicals.

I don’t believe that trusting in God relieves us of responsibility to engage in and with the world.

I’m in a third group—a group of both people of color and a few whites who have been here all along having conversations, discussions, disagreements, arguments, partnerships, and perhaps unwittingly waiting for a time like no other to re-engage in the church, to see us really learn from one another and listen. We are people who have been on a journey of understanding our racial, ethnic, and gender identities and have been committed to understanding how people who love Jesus enter into this journey, learn, and welcome others in.

In this group are both people who are tired and others who are re-energized. Some are still hopeful that we are on our way to a new evangelicalism, while others are ready to leave that problematic label behind—as well as some who are ready to leave the church altogether. We all knew things would remain the same unless something unusual happened.

Well, unusual things happened and continue to happen. Here we are. These are unusual days. There have been many days of hopelessness where admonitions and encouragement to trust God have fallen on my deaf, tired, heartbroken ears. There have been many days of exhaustion where the eager newness and desire to lead change have been painful for many who have been here all along only to have our voices and suggestions ignored.

But these unusual days are also giving way to little glimmers of hope and of Jesus.

Today I am thankful for the ones who paved the way with blood, sweat, and tears so that I, an immigrant Korean American woman, could have a small voice at a table such as this. I am thankful for those who are new to the journey and are bringing energy and a hopefulness that seems out of reach for me but which I long for desperately. I am thankful for those who remind us to trust in God because God is in control because it is easy to forget my small voice is about power rather than obedience.

Today I will chose to be thankful even during these unusual days.

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About the Author

Kathy Khang is a writer, speaker, and coffee drinker who works with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA and attends Libertyville (Illinois) Covenant Church with her family. She is one of the authors of More Than Serving Tea, a book that addresses the intersection of faith, gender, and ethnicity from the perspective of Asian American women. She has a weak spot for nail polish, books, and writing utensils. She blogs at morethanservingtea.wordpress.com.

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  1. Kathy, thank you for your thoughtful and heartfelt article. It is definitely a divisive era, even within households. I agree that it is disheartening to keep being reminded how far we have NOT come as a nation, and in particular as Christians who claim to love God as well as others who are also created in God’s image. It seems we tend to love only others who look, think, and act as we do. I appreciate your honesty as a woman who is often angered by the injustices all around me. It is my hope that especially evangelicals will see clearly and act responsibly to stand up for the rights and fair treatment of ALL people, especially those who have been marginalized in the world and in this bittersweet “land of the free.” My hope lies in the fact that, combined with God’s supernatural power, the Church has the ability to bring transformational change to humankind. We must lean in to discern and do our part in God’s plan to make all things new, even in this broken and seemingly hopeless world. I pray God helps each of us to see, seek, and find what that means, then boldly enter in to His work of changing hearts, minds, and lives.

  2. Thank you for your insightful commentary on the thorny political issues of the day and your suggestions of how to characterize the difficult differences in our friends, and fellow Christian believers. I am a retired product of years of IVCF and NCF activities and involvement and am forever grateful for the Biblically sound grounding that gave me in my younger years and for the Evang. Cov. that supported a gospel that taught me to try to love all my friends – even those I don’t agree with. I am with you in that third group. Blessings.

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