Cut to the Heart
When the people heard [the story of Jesus], they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “What should we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 2:37-38 (NIV)
I have been pulled over half a dozen times.
My only responses were annoyance and dread of a ticket with points on my license. Never, not once, was I afraid. The first time it happened I actually got out of the car as the officer got out of his car. We met between our cars and calmly discussed why he stopped me.
My parents never had “the talk” with me. Clearly, I didn’t need it. White supremacy is the reason I survived that day, unquestioned, un-arrested, unharmed.
I forgot all of that until twelve years ago when I participated in a week-long racial justice training. Among other points of awareness, I listened to Black people share harrowing stories of being pulled over by police. I was cut to the heart. It took several more such trainings and conversations to be fully converted and committed to anti-racism, but my eyes were opened.
When Peter shared his experience of Jesus being a victim of state violence and rising again, his listeners were “cut to the heart.” They weren’t yet fully converted to the gospel, but the liberating Spirit of God had an opening.
One opening is often all it takes for the Spirit to invade. Sometimes it hurts. In every case, it aims to heal.
God it feels odd to ask to be “cut to the heart” but I know I need it. Put me under the knife and do your healing work.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.