We have all been vividly reminded of one thing for sure this week —racism is still a very large issue in the hearts and minds of many, many people. Yesterday I posted two tweets – one against racism and one against murder. The first was widely re-tweeted and “liked” and the second was mostly ignored. Obviously one provokes stronger feelings and responses than the other!
In light of recent events, can I offer some thoughts on racism, murder, and motives?
Racism means different things to different people, but by definition is simply prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race derived from the belief that one’s race is superior to the other (I googled it and compared and combined a variety of online definitions). Perhaps the word to note in that definition is the word “superior.” For those of us who are believers, I would offer three observations in this matter:
- All of us are on equal footing by creation. God designed all of us in Adam and Eve and we are “one race” as a result.
- All of us are on equal footing when it comes to sin. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), is universally true. Racism and all other wrongs are a result of sin.
- All of us are on equal footing with the love of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
- All of us are on equal footing at the cross of Jesus Christ. Any one who believes “in Him [will] have everlasting life.”
- All of us are on equal footing with the judgment of God.” Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall He also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
- All of us are on equal footing in the church. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ” (Galatians 3:28 and also Colossians 3:11).
- Christians should always treat others with humility, gentleness, kindness, and grace without prejudice, discrimination, and antagonism.
What about murder? Murder is the taking of a life and most definitions include the words “unlawfully taking” and “with premeditation.” I agree with the second phrase but not as much with the first one because it is lawful to take the life of a baby even though that is also murder. The Ten Commandments keep it pretty simple: Thou shalt not kill. However, the Old Testament law acknowledges unique cases. Accidents, for instance, do occur, and ramifications do follow. The one who accidentally killed another had to move into a “city of refuge” and also provide proof that the “killing” was an accident and not premeditated. Life is precious, and even when the killing was accidental, it could not be treated as “no big deal.” Which leads me to another consideration – the issue of motives.
Motives are important, but perhaps only to the extent that they include “premeditation” because they rarely can be objectively determined. What was in a person’s heart when they killed another person? I can assume, but I can’t absolutely know. In fact, I may never know. Motives are tricky things to judge because the one judging the motives of another is doing so from his own motives. Which is why the New Testament warns us about judging motives. It is also why we have laws designed to allow every possible “defense” and every possible “accusation” to be thoroughly presented, defended, and challenged in front of “a jury of peers.” We have phrases like “innocent until proven guilty” as a result of those laws. All of us should be hesitant to judge motives!
Can I make some suggestions to you who are my fellow believers?
- Love all people and treat them fairly and kindly – even if they are different than you are.
- Acknowledge the pain and fear that many people experience. I don’t always understand why some of my “black” friends feel a certain way, but when I listen to them, I can often see that they have good reasons to think as they do. They may have been mistreated, harassed, or “profiled.” All of us should care when a person is wronged and should seek to correct those wrongs when it is possible for us to do so.
- Rebuke racism when you see it and when you experience it. For someone to treat a “black” person rudely, condescendingly and unkindly is simply wrong. Say so, correct it, and amend it.
- Refrain from emotionally driven responses that are hastily derived. I speak to myself here. I find that I can quickly share a post and make an accusation without ever hearing the whole story. Solomon reminds all of us that it is unwise to answer a matter hastily (Proverbs 18:13). As a result I have had to return to my social media pages and remove some posts. Perhaps you should as well.
- Refrain from all-encompassing accusations and broad sweeping statements. “If you are THIS but don’t see a problem with THIS then you are THIS” kind of statements don’t help anybody. Accusations always harden. Ask questions instead. Questions soften!
- Pray for the love of God to prevail in your life and in the life of your church. Pray that it will impact your community as a result.
May God help all of us to think clearly and respond appropriately. Especially me.
Thanks for reading.
Your sincere friend,