God Privilege: Recognizing & Utilizing the Neon-Colored Knapsack
May 14, 2004

I was never taught to see the favor of God as superceding the systems of men

From the time that I gave my life to God when I was 16 years-old, I've always felt different. I knew I was marked, I knew my life was branded forever, I knew I wasn't like the average person. I have often noticed that many Christians do not have the proper perspective on their rights and privileges as sons and co-heirs with Christ. It is interesting that "privilege" in this country is often assumed to be a negative thing. People scoff at those who've had the descriptor "privileged" bestowed on them. I've never quite understood why we've built up such an animosity for the "privileged". I spent most of my entire scholastic career amongst privileged individuals and even they began to despise their own privileged-ness. Most people in the United States of America are of the persuasion that certain people in this country are where they are today because of some nepotism, their race, their gender, their class, their educational background (which is usually dictated by class and race), and many other things. I can't say I disagree with that theory. What I will say is that I believe there is privilege in belonging to God that supercedes all other privileges and some.

Being that I am a black person, I can take this a step further and say that many black Christians have come to have more distrust in corrupt socially-generated systems than they have trust in the almighty God. Collectively as a people, we have turned to the government and other social institutions to meet many of our needs, and then turned around and placed blame on those very same institutions when they weren't doing what we thought they should do. Somehow the favor of God gets left out of all this. Speaking for all races, it seems we have come to be a nation of victims in many respects. We point our fingers in a number of different directions, blaming others for our present condition, or the choices and privileges we were denied. I am often bothered by Christians who spew this mythology of blame and dependence on "hand-outs" to rise to the proverbial top.

Every day I am becoming more aware of the always present reality that being a child of God has more rights, privileges, and responsibilities than anyone could ever imagine or keep track of. Not only do we not have to be subject to many of the corrupt schemes and systems that are holding so many back, we have power over them! We carry on our backs, a knapsack of favor and privilege everywhere we go. This knapsack we have isn't invisible; it's neon yellow, plain for the world to see. The favor of God on a person's life is perhaps the most beautiful thing. This knapsack isn't to be shown off or flaunted. It's to give God the glory and draw others to him.

Having this privilege as a child of God is definitely something we are accountable for. In fact, I think it's a travesty when we don't exercise our influence and keep that knapsack closed. I decided to take some time out to think about all the glorious privileges of God I've experienced in my life. In listing some of these out, I realize these are situations and certainties to which many others cannot lay claim. This is the essence of true privilege.

  1. I can arrange to be in God's presence anytime I want.
  2. If I need to move to a different location, I can be pretty sure that when renting an apartment or purchasing a house, God already has one available and waiting for me.
  3. I can go shopping alone and pretty much expect to get a good deal, special favor, or an unexpected blessing along the way.
  4. I can turn on the television or look at the front page of the newspaper and get insight into things the average person can't see.
  5. When I go to a professional establishment, I can usually expect to receive the best service.
  6. When I am sick, I can seek healing for my body anytime I want.
  7. I can make mistakes in my past and not have them held against me in my future.

  8. When considering a spouse, I don't have to stress out about if that person is "the one".
  9. I get to see miracles every day.
  10. When I am in need of income I can guarantee that I will be taken care of at all times.
  11. Food, clothing, and shelter are things I never have to worry about.
  12. When I drive in my car, I have a hedge of protection around me.
  13. I don't have to be afraid of anything.
  14. I can do well in a challenging situation and be a credit to God alone.
  15. When I speak, people listen.
  16. I don't need affirmative action to get into college or get a job.
  17. I have exposure and access to the most diverse group on people on the earth.
  18. I can be placed in high positions of influence and power I don't even deserve.
  19. If I find myself in a bad situation that seems completely unchangeable, I know someone who can change it.
  20. I can get a job I'm not qualified for.
  21. I can have peace in the midst of chaos.
  22. I don't have to fight my own battles.
  23. I have protection everywhere I go.
  24. I always have someone I can talk to.

  25. I can have insight about people and situations without anyone telling me so.
  26. I have business ideas no one's ever thought of.
  27. I have the cure to every disease.
  28. If I'm having a bad day, the joy of the Lord is my strength.
  29. Death has no mastery over me.

In unpacking this neon knapsack of God privilege, I have listed conditions of daily experience which I once took for granted. I now know that these are realities I can be certain of every day. I am unsure of why many don't embrace this burden of privilege. Sometimes I think it's easier to just blame others instead of trusting in a God who's so much bigger than our petty situations. There is so much more to say here, but it will be saved for a later time.

**Loosely based on an essay titled "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh, an article I've come to disagree with more and more each day.

Posted by Ambra at May 14, 2004 2:28 PM in Life ,Race
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I've been reading through your archives, and I just had to comment: Amen!

You are officially on my "must read" list. :)

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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