Let me start by sharing that this will not be brief or a bullet point presentation on better race relations. I do intend, however, for this to help the Christian reader think through these sensitive issues biblically and for this to help the Gospel-centered Christian respond in a way that honors the Lord, honors the hurting, and point us all to Christ. I welcome your comments, criticisms, and clarifications but if you intend to offer them, please read the post in its entirety before responding.
The Root of Racism is Hate, not Color
I have had the privilege of teaching/preaching in the bush of Africa, the jungles of Peru, the calm streets of suburbia, and rural America. I have found hate-filled hearts in every one of these nooks and crannies.
The Shinasha people, a lighter skinned Ethiopian tribe, at times, have actively oppressed their darker skinned Gumuz neighbors. The Hispanic Peruvian people have oppressed their gringo visitors and residents, at times, because the gringos are the minority and can do little to nothing about it. There’s still even a running joke around where I serve the Lord today about those who live or grew up “north of the creek” (and this is an almost all-white region). Sure, it’s a joke but that stereotype started somewhere and it wasn’t a joke or it wouldn’t have stuck; certainly, some still believe the stereotype today and its negative connotations are clear.
Christian, you need not look any further than Acts 7:58 for an example of hate that has nothing to do with race. The man who would soon be known around the world as “the Apostle Paul” stood in agreement over the mob-murder of a preacher belonging to the minority sect of Judaism called “the Way” (later to be called “Christians” in Acts 17). Saul would then go on a murderous, hate-filled rampage not because of race but because of his hatred of these Christians. This was Jewish on Jewish oppression, suppression, and murder.
Racism, sexism, discrimination, and oppression are the symptoms of much greater problem; the root is hate. And even further than “hate” is the core fundamental problem of the complete and utter societal rejection of Absolute Truth; namely, the First and Second Tables of the Law (also known as The 10 Commandments).
This why we are seeing black cops killed alongside of white cops (https://time.com/5849888/st-louis-captain-david-dorn-suspect-arrested/) and black-owned business being destroyed along with white-owned, hispanic-owned, and other minority-owned businesses (https://fee.org/articles/here-are-just-10-of-the-many-minority-owned-businesses-destroyed-in-the-riots/).
When God is not honored it should not be a surprise when the image of God, in humanity, is not honored. Hate overflows from a heart filled with hate and it empties itself upon any who oppose it or who may stand its way of filling its single greatest desire; namely, the satisfaction of self.
Justice: The Reflection of God upon Humanity
In my heart, I’ve been conflicted over both the statement “black lives matter” and the “BLM” movement. But, while reading last week I encountered a statement that made me look past the reservations (my reservations come from not wanting fuel racial divisions or support a harmful organization) and ask myself the question, “What is at the heart of the BLM movement on the individual level? What do those who support BLM want?” I believe the answer is “Justice.”
Who doesn’t want justice? Who doesn’t deserve justice? Who doesn’t want or deserve to be treated with love, compassion, and fairly? I know I do.
Certainly, there are bad actors in the BLM movement, the police force, and even in ministry; I know that to be true. So, if the justice of God is what God desires than I can get on board with that and speak out from there.
Jesus spoke about the love (First Table, the first four commandments) and justice of God (Second Table, the last six commandments) in Luke 11:42. In essence, Jesus condemned the outward practice of religion (tithing) because his hearers were lacking the inward renewal of the Holy Spirit (salvation) and it was evident; listen carefully to the Master Teacher—“Woe to you…For you tithe mint and rue, and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting others.” The outward reflection or their religion was evident but inwardly they lacked the two most fundamental aspects of Christ-centered living: The love of God (First Table) and the love of others (Second Table); aka, justice.
The never-changing supreme standard by which God judges mankind is the Law of God, both Tables. Praise be to God that Jesus fulfilled the Law, died in my place, paid my debt, rose victoriously that I might be justified before the Thrice Holy God, and promises the forgiveness of sins and eternal life to all who come to Him in faith and repentance. But I, and we (humanity) have not been set free from living within the Moral Law (10 Commandments) but have been empowered to now live in light of the Moral Law by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. This love of Savior God (First Table) now manifests itself in the love of neighbor (Second Table). Or said from the negative position: The lack of justice/love of neighbor is the evidence that the love of God is also missing. The root of the Justice of God is buried deep into the soil of the Love of God and when a person/society loves God rightly it will be evident by how they treat/love one another.
The Cancer of Society’s Soul
Our society has almost rejected the “love of God” wholesale while still demanding that which flows from it; namely, the justice of God or the love of man. Metaphorically, we’re treating the cancer of racism, sexism, oppression and suppression of all sorts with Nyquil.
“The nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy-head fever so you can rest and have a good morning medicine” helps suppress the symptoms of a cold but only masks the red-flags that cancer sends while it continues to ravage its victim internally. Clearly, our societal-bowels are being ravaged; not by racism, although it is present, but by the wholesale rejection of its Creator, Savior, & Sustainer.
Saul of Tarsus (Acts 7) ravaged the Church of Christ (Acts 8) until he had an encounter with the risen Jesus (Acts 9). And you know what happened next: The Apostle Paul was commissioned and sent out by the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 1) after his heart was changed through the Gospel. Paul loved the Lord, even the point of death, and loved those he once oppressed and suppressed, even to the point of his own death, not because of a protest, a rally, a social-justice drive, or new laws being codified.
Paul’s cancerous hate was healed by the life-giving Gospel of Jesus Christ being applied to his dead, hate-filled heart, by the Holy Spirit through the lips of the resurrected Jesus. This, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is the only way that the hate-filled heart is changed into a heart that overflows with love; love of God above all else (First Table) and the love of neighbor (Second Table), regardless of sex, color, or creed.
The Only Viable Solution
While atheism, agnosticism, idolatry, and Sabbath neglect rule our society (First Table neglect), our cancers of racism, sexism, and injustice (Second Table neglect) will eviscerate our families, neighborhoods, regions, and country. We will never have justice while the love of God is absent and celebrated.
Racism is annihilated in the heart that accepts the Truth that mankind is indeed one race; many shades of skin tone but one race.
Political Discrimination, Disinformation, and Character Assassination is eradicated in the heart that embraces the Truth that Christ’s Kingdom is (1) not of this world, (2) that this world is passing away, and (3) that the Lord steers the hearts of political leaders wherever He pleases.
Sexism is thrashed to shreds in the heart that holds tightly to the Truth that God created men and women to serve complimentary, Christ-exalting rolls and embracing God’s design, to the glory of God the Father.
Oppression & Suppression perishes in the heart that accepts the Truth that it is far greater to give than to receive.
Hate is disemboweled in the heart that has been overtaken by the love of God in the person of Christ Jesus, having been made alive by the Spirit of God, through seeing Love on a Cross through the lens of an empty tomb.
We need the Gospel.
The United States of America needs another Great Awakening and that is a work that only God can do and has said He will do it through the faithful proclamation of the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ. After all, the Gospel is the power of God to salvation for those who believe.
Let me leave you with the words of Paul Tripp from his book War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles (pg. 112):
“God’s agenda in these moments is fundamentally spiritual. He knows that only when he owns our hearts unchallenged will we relate to the world in the way he has ordained. For this reason, God is focused not only on the momentary solution to our problems but on a long-term change of heart.”