I don’t know about you, but as the news has unraveled these past couple of weeks, my heart has been engulfed in sadness.
What is happening to our nation? It was not but about a month ago that we “celebrated” the 50th anniversary of the Kent State shootings in May of 1970. There have been a lot of other shootings and the like since then which have caused a national upheaval and massive demonstrations, both peaceful and not.
But these most recent days of concern over the conduct of the police in the George Floyd incident have become a cause for renewed concern.
A couple of years ago, I came across an article by Tony Hoagland, an award-winning poet who had recently passed away from the terrible disease of cancer.
Shortly before he died, Hoagland reflected on his disease and the impact it was having on him. He talked about being “singled out unfairly, plucked from your healthy life and cast into this cruel ordeal of cancer.”
He then went on to describe his feelings walking uneasily into the hospital for his date with his oncologist, but being comforted by the sheer number and variety of others from all walks of life and races who have been afflicted with the same disease. He titled his article, “The Cure for Racism is Cancer” (The Sun Magazine, 9-18).
Racism. The word seems cold and cruel and even in its verbalization seems to generate hard feelings. But is there a proper way to look at the subject, without generating intolerable hatred? There are three statements which I would like to share which hopefully give a much needed biblical perspective on this whole situation:
(1) God hates racism. To take advantage of another human being or to discriminate against them in any way because of the color of their skin is wrong, and God hates it!
(2) God hates lawlessness. In fact, we read in the Scriptures that “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Don’t misunderstand – peaceful protests are fine, but violence, rioting, looting, defunding the police and the like are contrary to the teachings of the Bible in Romans 13, where we are told that all governmental authority is ordained by God. The government under which Paul, the author of those words, was living was a totalitarian absolute monarchy, led by one of the cruelest emperors of all time. His name was Nero. Living under his authority was no easy matter. Yet there was no encouragement to riot and loot and destroy. Peter and John were the first ones to declare that they must obey God rather than men, but even they did not resort toviolence or destruction in pursuit of their cause.
(3) Racism and Lawlessness are not the problem, only symptoms of the problem. The root problem is sin. The solution to the root problem is found ONLY in Jesus Christ. The good news of the Gospel message is that Jesus Christ came, lived, died, and rose again to save sinners and to defeat the whole problem of sin in us and in our world. If you try to solve the problems of racism and lawlessness apart from the gospel, it is like trying to cure cancer with a Band-Aid. The message the world needs is the purifying, healing, and reconciling message of Jesus Christ and His love for sinners.
So what? What does this mean for me and for you?
God has reconciled the world to himself through Christ, and, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are ministers, ambassadors of that reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
The story is told of Secretary of State George Shultz under President Ronald Reagan that he called every ambassador under his charge into his office in Washington, D.C. to meet them and interview them about their work.
During the interview with each one, Shultz pointed to a large globe in the center of his office and asked the ambassador to pinpoint for him the country that ambassador represented. On more than one occasion, the ambassador would turn the globe to the place and the country where he served, pointing to places like Chad and Argentina and Kazakhstan and Borneo.
In each of these instances, Schultz would correct the ambassador by moving his finger not to the country where he worked, but to the United States of America, the country they represent while living in the country where they worked!
Ambassadors carry the message of our Commander-in-Chief, and for the follower of Christ in the real world today, that Commander-in-Chief is Jesus Christ!
So the ultimate question is: What kind of an ambassador are you?
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.