Why I Care About Racial Justice
By Dana Lundblad
I consider myself oddly lucky, because I came to Jesus as an adult. I was a supremely blank slate. I had no church experience, nor any historical, cultural, political experience of the church or God’s people. I’d never really gone to church—and certainly never with anyone who could help me understand it—and never read any scripture until the process of becoming a Christian at age 19.
When I did become a Christian, I was immediately submerged in a 18-month class on the book of Mark. I had no framework for faith except for this gospel, and so for me, Jesus’ words and actions were the main lens through which I understood what it meant to be a Christian. I was enthralled and determined to live a life worthy of the calling. I saw Jesus as this “upside down person,” calling me to a radical life of downward mobility and service to the marginalized. Jesus also gave me a profound promise: As I followed Him in this call, I would experience a special kind of companionship with him that I wouldn’t otherwise.
There was a lot to be worked out. I struggled with the pull towards having ideas about justice rather than putting myself in the place where people who needed justice were. I struggled with materialism and comfort. I struggled with my deeply internalized white supremacy that perverts how we are called to participate in God’s justice. And as I’ve struggled with that internalized sin, Jesus has directed me—more and more—towards issues of racial injustice and more particularly of late, of mass incarceration and its impact.
When I was quite young, I had the privilege of praying with a mystic warrior in the guise of an African American church mother. I have never forgotten what she prayed. She said, “Jesus, we know we are going to see you today. Help us to treat you right.”
We make sacred connections when we throw our lot in with those who are marginalized–when we draw near, rather than hold ourselves at a distance. It is there that I meet Jesus face to face. I make so many mistakes, but I go to work at the Y and to MoVA (Men of Valor Academy) with the expectation that I will see Jesus there. I find that in those moments, Jesus reminds me of my humanity, even as he helps me see the sacredness in the people I meet.
And so I pray—Jesus, I know I’m going to see you today. Help me to treat you right.