By Timothy Coman
Corinth First United Methodist Church
“What if.” These two words provoke something within me, and as someone who was delivered from the cancer of racism in 1989, I often ask what if I had continued to live in a world blinded by someone’s color, by the darkness of my own heart. What if I had not allowed God to purge this stain from my heart and mind, then I would not have two of my greatest friends in my life, men of color on the outside, and men of integrity on the inside.
Before I proceed with the what if, I want to solidify what I believe as a human being is simply borne out of my frustration when I see others seek to divide us.
In 2017, I am simply an American…I believe as an American, I have the right to live by a certain set of values, convictions, and at the same time, free to approach my life with a sense of hope, responsibility and accountability.
I am not an American because of my ethnicity, my faith, my career, my political affiliation or the color of my skin. If you are like me, you are fed up being shoved an ideology that says we must choose sides, we must espouse a certain set of values, beliefs or feelings in order to be considered a good American.
This might come as a surprise, but in our country we are surrounded by people from every conceivable background, some we agree with and others we do not.
We are the entire melting pot of Americans. We do not need a select group of representatives from all 50 states, a court of nine people, a political party or news pundits informing us who they think we should be…We are Americans and regardless of how we choose to lead our families, we are not each other’s enemies.
Some of us rear our children to like Fords, others to hunt and fish, some teach their kids sports, live for the next championship. Most people in our country are not the elite or the wealthy, they are simple people from the urban jungle to the Midwestern city, and they come from every background imaginable and so I ask you, what if?
What if grace was my first reaction?
What if you and I took time to really hear our neighbor’s heart? What if we stopped listening to the news reports, and listened to one another? What if we stopped blaming, and what if we actually loved our neighbor as we love ourselves as it states in the Gospel?
In nearly 26 years of working with students I can tell you among all the changes that have occurred in technology, the family dynamic, worship styles, one remarkable truth is still relevant, our students are watching.
Why exactly are we surprised when students bully one another, have less compassion, feel entitled when we as adults have simply planted the seeds of hurt, division, chaos and at times such intolerance that our Father in Heaven must grieve for the way we treat one another?
So, I am challenging you to ask “what if?”
What if the next time I begin to watch news reports, and I begin to get angry, stirred up, what if I choose to stop and pray and say, “God, show me, who I can touch?”
What if the next time you hear someone utter an unkind word, you go out of your way to find something positive to say?
What if I refuse to be secluded by my color, my race, my faith, and what if I truly allow God to remove the insecurities of my own heart, and step out of my own boat, and listen to someone’s back story?
What if I simply begin to see people as Jesus sees them, broken, hurting, alone, angry, fearful and misguided, and I simply offer a symbolic washing of the feet by offering words of life, words of hope, words of affirmation?
How would it change our young people? How would it change our world, and no matter where you fall in your faith or you espouse none, I think we can agree that if we begin with what if, we will begin to experience remarkable change.
Lastly, I leave this with you. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says and it includes the word “if,” so what if my people which are called by name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, then will I hear from heaven and heal their land.
So, once again, our children are watching, so what exactly are we planting in their souls?