When a major life-threatening event occurs that changes people’s lives, organizations, and commerce, people often act out their insecurities and grief. Major natural disasters like COVID-19 have placed these tendencies on full display. This should not surprise us.
Man-made terror like the 9-11 World Trade Center attack and the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, or the graphic death of an African-American man by a euro-American police officer, create opportunities for people to act out in bad behavior normally held in check by moral values, the rule of law, and spiritual reflection. But what happens in a culture when values, the rule of law, and respect for one another are attributes evaporating from the society’s landscape?
The tragic, unjust death of George Floyd has ripped open a raw wound in the fabric of American culture. It has brought to the forefront one of the vilest sins imaginable: racism. To judge a person just because of the color of their skin or their ancestry, or because they belong to a certain ethno-linguistic group, is blatant sin. And it has been a stain on the fabric of humanity for centuries.
Racism was there at the beginning of our nation. Yet our nation’s ideals were built on a different set of values—values that are evident to everyone “that all men were created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness [meaning fulfillment of a life purpose].”
Those early values were corrupted by the stain of racism. Our own Southern Baptist Convention was launched because some people wanted to continue in and find justification for sin. I am grateful for statements we have made in my lifetime lamenting of our past and begging for forgiveness for our Convention’s past. Yet it is by our active love of people—all people, we validate our words expressed in public statements.
Racism remains in the context of our culture. It is wrong-headed. It is not right. It is sin. You cannot excuse it or avoid its ugliness when it raises its head out of the sewer of aberrant behaviors. Part of the tragedy is that it is learned behavior. People teach people to hate through generational indoctrination, cultural intimidation, and self-righteous pride. The Lord hates it all.
Our Mighty God made every person, and the signature of His creation is that He made us to reflect who He is. If you haven’t looked around, He loves the diversity of our unchangeables. Skin color, shapes, lineage, gender, time in history, and the end of our days are all part of the mosaic that reveals His glory. Everything about who He made us to be – these are tools in the Lord’s hands to accomplish His purposes. We forget at times when we have the “world by the tail” and doing our own “self-promoting thing” that life is not about us. It is about Him and His purposes.
But sin blurs the image of who God made us to be. Racism stains His image and creates an arrogant god of self in our hearts. Sensuality has tainted the beauty of a relationship between a man and a woman. Naturalism as a worldview and other myths exploit the foolishness of the devil and his crowd, and deceive many religious people into thinking they know more than the Most High God who spoke and the world came to be. The commercials tempt us into thinking that if we only possessed the product they are selling, we would find satisfaction in life. The truth is no product can bring wholeness to what is wrong with us. It’s sin, people!
Yet God loves us so much. He cherishes us. He found such value in us as His image bearers, even though we are sinners. He wills to demonstrate His love toward us. The gospel is that He sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, from heaven’s glory to earth, where people are corrupted by sin, to offer redemption to us. We did not deserve it but He offered the gift to us. How do we receive so precious a gift? By repenting of our sin and surrendering by faith to His provision for us through Jesus Christ our Lord.
When we surrender our lives to Christ we become part of the solution that people need in our world. We demonstrate the love of God: not hate, but love; not manipulation, but authentic compassion; not self-assurance, but by faith in Jesus for “all things that pertain to life and godliness.”
Let that marinate in your mind. This truth changes how we see other people. We are like one another—made in the image of God, and other people deserve to be treated as God treats us: with dignity and respect.
What would a culture look like if we treated one another like siblings of the same family? I am not a sociologist, but I do know that racism can be eradicated when we love one another as family—brothers and sisters in Christ. It doesn’t matter the color of skin or who your parents are or how much money you have, we can authentically love one another.
What kind of culture is possible if Christ followers paved the way for civility and acceptance of every person with the same kind of love our Heavenly Father has for us? What kind of culture would emerge if believers moved beyond the four walls of church activity and expressed their biblical world view in the marketplace, the court house, the school house and in public square?
The solution is simple: We desperately need Him who first loved us, and He desires we love others as He loves us.
As you consider these matters, I encourage you also to read this article: https://fbcsparta.wordpress.com/2020/04/28/the-lord-of-lament.