Black Lives Matter. George Floyd. Protest. Change. Systemic Racism. Riot. Looting. Police Brutality. Derek Chauvin. I Can’t Breath. White Privilege. Fear. Hate.
These are just a few of the words and phrases that have been filling the news, the News Feed on Facebook, the Timeline on Twitter, the Feed on Instagram, personal conversations, etc… over the past week and a half. Our nation is once again, reeling over the wrongful death of a black man at the hands of those who are sworn to protect and serve. I’m not going to get into all of the debate and conversation about criminal/innocent, good cop/bad cop, use of force, systemic racism, and all of that today, though those are important conversations to have. The officers involved in this death have all been charged with either “aiding and abetting second-degree murder; and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter” or with “second-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter.” The video that I saw of the incident was shocking and disturbing, and I’ll leave it at that.
I’m going to dovetail off of this though, to talk about, what I see as the underlying root of the problem. The truth is that our society does have an issue with with racism, with violence, with discrimination, etc… The truth is that we always have. The truth is that every society in the world does and always has. The truth is that these things are symptoms of an underlying disease that infects the heart of all humanity. The truth is that no policy or law or training will fix this disease. They can address symptoms, but the disease is a heart issue and needs to be addressed at the source.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” — Jeremiah 17:9
This is the curse of sin in our lives. This is why God sent a flood to wipe out most of humanity “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” — Genesis 6:5 It is why Jesus had to come and die to offer a remedy, a healing, salvation. Our hearts, in their natural form, apart from God, who is love, are full of hate, and from this hate comes all sorts of evil: murder, bullying, racism, sexism, discrimination, abuse, and so much more.
However, as Christians, we are called to something different, something greater. “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” — 1 John 2:9 We are called to love, because God is love, and as Christians we are the likeness of Him. This is no easy calling, not a simple statement. It goes against our human nature, but as Christians, as true followers of Christ, we are transformed into something different, and an identifying quality of that transformation is love.
Now there is much to be angry about in our country today. Maybe you are angry at police. Maybe you are angry at a specific race. Maybe you are angry at a system. Maybe you are angry at rioters. Maybe you are angry at protestors. Maybe you are angry at something that has nothing to do with any of this, but affects you greatly. I would challenge you to a couple of things.
- Examine your life and your anger. Is it justifiable. Anger is often justifiable. We are cautioned not to sin in our anger, but anger, especially over evil, is ok. But, examine your anger, what are you angry about? Is it a person or group, or is it the evil. Make sure that your anger is against evil, and that you are using it to bring yourself and others closer to God, not to act out in sin.
- Put yourself in the shoes of another. Try to understand their anger. We live in a very polarized world in which we often fail to even listen to the “other” side, much less understand them, but if we would take a minute to put ourselves in their shoes, try to empathize with their anger, fear, etc… it would go a long way toward helping bridge divides and show God’s love.
- Examine your heart to see if there is hatred that needs to be cut out. Hatred rarely starts as something vile and monstrous. It can start as a small seed of annoyance, frustration, bias, etc… and slowly grows to become the beast that kills and divides. Look for it in your life in any form and allow God to replace it with love. The only thing that we should hate is evil, and evil is what God defines as evil in the Bible.
Finally, I’ll leave with a verse and a quote from a Ted Dekker book. Let your life and actions and words be characterized by love. Hate the evil, the disease that infects us all, work to destroy it in every form in your own life and the life of those around you with the love that Christ is and gives.
“The Horde lurks in all of us, the disease that cripples. The rot, if you like. Why not go after the disease.” — Red: Ted Dekker
“Hatred stirs up conflicts, but love covers all offenses.” — Proverbs 10:12