Ignorance is bliss. Isn’t that how the saying goes? Ignorance is bliss…
My question is bliss for who? Is it bliss for those whom you are ignorant about? or is ignorance only bliss for you? If ignorance only serves you, then can a Christian afford to be ignorant? Let me confess how the bliss of ignorance served me.
Ignorance told me, racism was something “other” people struggled with, especially people who lived before I was born. Ignorance told me, that this white, able bodied, middle class, evangelical, Canadian, Christian, loved all people no matter their skin color. Ignorance told me, every one of my racial based jokes was just that, a joke. Ignorance told me, that making assumptions about people based on their skin color was not racist, but just understanding people. Ignorance told me, how could you be a racist? You have a black friend. Ignorance told me, I wasn’t being racist when I was afraid of a black man, but rather, I was just following the golden rule of “stranger danger.” Ignorance told me, that the fear of the “other” is not sin, it’s just caution. Ignorance told me, you aren’t afraid of the skin color, just the neighborhood. Ignorance told me, I wasn’t a racist. Ignorance told me, racism isn’t sin. Ignorance tells me, I have no sin.
God tells me, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” God tells me, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” God tells me, “Whoever does not love abides in death.” God tells me, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” God tells me, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” God tells me, I have been “alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in me, due to the hardness of my heart.” God tells me, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world,”
Are you living in the bliss[less] world of ignorance? By God’s grace, I am slowly being taken out of that world, but I still often find myself entrenched in the captivating dark hole of ignorance. So much so, that I’d much rather feel good about myself in ignorance, than face the reality that tells me that I have benefited and continue to benefit from racism. Racism isn’t over because sin isn’t over. There is no sense in denying that fact. Instead, I must plead with God for mercy in the only One who was not racist, Jesus Christ. Only in Him will I learn to lay aside every hindrance to the gospel.
Here are some resources that can help us become less ignorant and more loving:
A documentary entitled, 13TH. This documentary discusses the issue of mass incarceration and explains how racism has always existed in America, but it takes on different identities at different times.
Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. This is a fantastic book to read in tandem with 13TH.
Christena Cleveland’s book, Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep us Apart. Great popular level book that could easily be used in a small group setting.
Michael Emerson’s and Christian Smith’s book, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. This is a very helpful book in which Emerson and Smith examine the state of racism in America and its implications for Evangelicals.