K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Saint*)
By Nicole Jung | September 21, 2020
I’d never realized how much I resented white America until I found myself in Kansas City amidst a sea of white American faces. I was in Missouri for a Christian conference and while I was only there out of a desperate desire to encounter God, I could not ignore the underlying sense of resentment I felt as my minority status was heightened to a degree I’d never experienced before. Having grown up in a diverse community in the Bay Area, I wasn’t used to feeling so outnumbered, so outright conspicuous yet so invisible at the same time. But growing up among other Asians in California doesn’t mean I’ve never encountered racism or felt ashamed of being Asian. As I watched white teenagers roam the conference halls in Kansas City happy and carefree, I remembered the time I was in the backseat of my parents’ car on the way home from church and a car full of teenage boys pulled up next to us, tugged at their eyes and held up their middle fingers. I remembered my white friend in high school who would affectionately (or so I thought) call me “Squinty”. I remembered watching shows like The OC and Laguna Beach and wanting so badly to be white and cool and beautiful. I remembered feeling embarrassed when my mom tried to crack jokes with the grocery store clerk not because her jokes were bad but because her English was. And I remembered hating myself for being Korean because our food was crazy, our house smelled like mothballs and because Seth from The OC would probably only ever want to date girls like Summer. So when I looked around that room in Kansas City, all I felt was bitterness and judgement, tinged with an air of superiority because though these white midwesterners probably loved God, surely they were ignorant and blind to their privilege and entitlement, and therefore they were just plain ignorant and blind, period. At one point in my life, the world I grew up in caused me to hate my Asianness, so now I felt completely justified in hating their whiteness.
The band started to play and so began a session of worship, prayer and meditation. As worship continued and the presence of God filled the room, I looked around at the same sea of white faces and noticed a young family in front of me. A woman around my age balanced a toddler snugly to her hip with one arm and the other extended out in worship. Her husband held onto another child’s hand and swayed as he closed his eyes with furrowed brows while a third child gleefully bounced all around them. My eyes were locked on this family and as I watched them I heard a whisper in my heart, three simple words shot from heaven that crashed into my spirit, resounding: “I love them.” My gaze moved to the people beside them, a group of college students singing their lungs out to God, and I heard the same three words echo within: “I love them.” I looked around the room with tears in my eyes as the words cut through me with searing clarity and extraordinary weight, and an absurdly obvious yet easily forsaken realization settled into my soul: The Lord loves these white people. He really, really loves them.
The Lord loves all his people. He really, really loves us all.
This is a truth that’s so powerful in its simplicity that it’s become trite and nothing more than a mantra we’ve heard and sung and repeated all throughout our Christian lives. Yet it’s a simple truth that we can’t afford to complicate with mere human wisdom, muddy with worldly rhetoric, or distort through the lens of our pain and past experiences.
The fact of the matter is that the Lord loves the ones we want to cancel. He loves the ones we want to punish–the ones we deem ignorant, dangerous, even evil. His heart burns for all of humanity and His hand of grace and mercy is extended to all for all are precious to Him, even His enemies. As people of his royal priesthood and family, we are called to do the same. This is a hard truth and one that the world cannot and will not accept, but it’s one that as children of God, we cannot deny as though we’ve matured and outgrown its simplicity.
As the world gets noisier and tensions grow greater, the enemy waits to jump on every opportunity to divide and fracture the body of Christ, to keep us clinging to our offenses, resentments, and our need to be right. He would love for us to choose our judgements of one another than for us to choose each other in love. This doesn’t mean we’re passive or idle in the face of injustice or compromise our convictions. But just as God has given us the command to act justly, in the same breath he commands us to love mercy and walk humbly before him. In our desire to act justly, have we dismissed the call to love mercy and walk humbly? Love mercy for God has been merciful to us and has sent his Son to redeem a world that hated, rejected and scorned him. Walk humbly because every single one of us to a great degree are ignorant and blind to the full scope of God’s redemptive plan and His truly just and righteous ways.
In these latter days where the noise of confusion will only grow in the midst of chaos, our disposition must be one of Psalm 139:23-24, where in humility we cry, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Search me God, for I am the ignorant one. Lead me in the way everlasting, God, for I am blind and I have acted in offensive ways. We pursue godly justice and righteousness with fervor, yet we pursue it in humility before God and one another knowing we ourselves are not exempt from unrighteousness in our lives. We pursue it as we choose to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit because we can do nothing of lasting worth apart from Him. We pursue it in the love of God, not in our resentment and anger, however justified it is, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:20). We pursue it with our eyes set on things above, our hearts submitted to God’s imperishable word, and our ears open to hear none other than the voice of the one who has seen all that is broken and corrupt in our lives, and says of us, “I love them.”