And so, in the midst of everything BLM, the white privilege narrative surfaces once more. I welcome the discussion, but it has done more harm than good. I have experienced the term thrown at me when I asked a black man if he could disagree with the president without name-calling and hatred. It was a legitimate question proffered to another pastor: colleague to colleague. Can you disagree without projecting hate?
His answer: White privilege. He avoided the question altogether. White privilege was the extent of his answer.
So, I researched white privilege and white ‘splainin to the point of exhausting most of the viable resources. I reviewed my comment that prompted the one size fits all white people response. My comment was not paternalistic. It did not regard him as less than myself. It did not cause him disadvantage in the asking. It was one colleague challenging the thinking of another. This used to be how discussions of real issues began. This used to be a good thing.
I know what it is to be paternalistic. I have been this way with black, white, Asian, Hispanic, and Samoan men and it was a good thing. Somebody’s blood is boiling after than comment, but it’s because they don’t know the facts.
Marine officers are counseled to establish and maintain a relationship with their subordinates as between a father and a son. Yes, the Marine Corps Manual was written before this gender-neutral time, but the message was and is that your Marines are more than your subordinates. Treat them as you would your own children with love, discipline, and shared bonds.
I will admit that when I challenge a contemporary, my language may be a little less tactful than most. I am not so experienced working with timid men as I am with those of purpose and courage who can get to the real issues without having to be pampered so much as to avoid anything of substance.
But let’s just say that white privilege exists to the extent portrayed by the broad generalizations of the day. Let’s take that as our premise and operate as if it is valid.
I say that white privilege in itself is not a bad thing. Now, I surely have offended those who think we should apologize for the skin tone that God gave us. The fact that God made me white or you black or some other hue is the point.
God created all of us. He made us as we are, so here is the real question.
What did you do with what God gave you?
It is the question never asked but answered by all three servants in the parable of the talents. The master in this parable did not give each servant the same amount of money. One received five talents, one received two, and the last servant received one talent. Each was given in accordance with his ability. The master knew what to give each servant.
This endowment was not the end of the story. It was the catalyst for what we must learn. The first two servants put their talents to work at once and produced a 100% return for their master. The third servant buried his talent in the ground and produced nothing.
There is no unfairness here. The master gave as he thought best. Two of the servants put what they had to work. The third was governed by fear.
Back to white privilege and what we do with it. For the one who believes in God and professes Christ, we must put this gift to work at once.
The first servant in the parable did not apologize to the others because his master gave him more. He put what he was given to work and produced a return for his master. Likewise, the second did the same. When the day of accounting came, this is what those servants heard from their master.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
So if white privilege is something that makes a big difference in this world in which we live, the proper action is not to apologize but to put the trust given to us to work. We are to produce a return for our Master.
This is the most clear-cut part of this narrative. We are to:
To apologize for being white glorifies Satan. I’ll pass on that. God made me the color and gender that I am. That may or may not have influenced some things in my life. I can say with certainty, it was not the greatest influence.
But if you find that God has given you some status or advantage or other gift, don’t feel guilty. Put it to work at once. Put it to work!
Quit condemning God for the trust he has placed in you and what you can do.
What sort of return will I produce? You will be a light unto the world and bring glory to God as you share his good news and live out a life of love for each other. If you have gifts or advantages or what we are calling privilege, you can produce an even greater return.
Our nation has been trying to provide the same opportunities for all for over 244 years, the last 150 years with greater focus on race. We have done a terrible job in many ways but not in all ways. It’s not the worst job ever, especially if you compare our efforts with the world. There is still slavery in the world, mostly among those whose skin is brown. It goes by the name of indentured servitude, but it’s slavery.
Humankind remains broken when God is not first in our lives.
We try our own equations for justice and fairness and equality while ignoring God. Instead of reshuffling the deck, we should play the cards that we have been dealt and produce a wonderful return for our Master. He has equipped us for great things.
In the process, so many things that we think we can accomplish by human law or lawlessness will be surpassed by what we accomplish with love for one another.
Yes, many will bury their talent in the ground or worse, waste it away on self-gratification. Those have declared in their hearts that there is no God, but it still comes back to what did we do with what God gave us?
We are not to apologize for what God gave us. That denounces his sovereignty, and there is a lot of that going around. We should be thankful and even joyful in our trials. This is where God does some of his best work and we grow in Christian maturity.
Whatever you have—privilege, trials, money, few or many possession, education, physical strength—put it to work at once and produce a return for you Master who is Christ Jesus the Lord. We will all account at some time.
As we struggle to address our broken world, ask this:
What did I do with what God gave me?