I need to confess two things.
First, I’m hesitant to write anything. I’m hesitant because I’m fearful of how I’ll be perceived. But that’s a “fear of man” issue that I need to work out with the Lord. Fear of people and their opinions about the good news about Jesus Christ is wrong. Rather I ought to pray for gentle courage to speak gospel truth in genuine love.
Second, I don’t feel like I have much to say because I’m white. While for some that might be true, the reality is that the good news concerning Jesus Christ is the news that is needed most during this time. It’s not “white people” good news. It’s good news for all people.
Now I want to say a few things…
I’m grieving. My wife asked me yesterday how it is we can respond to all the racial injustice we have been witnessing in our country as of late. I couldn’t respond with anything but anger and sadness.
I get that not all cops are bad or anything like that! I have family members in law enforcement who are upstanding citizens and genuinely care about people. I have friends who are in or going into law enforcement because they see the issues and want to be a part of the solution from the inside. I have people in the church where I pastor who love the Lord dearly and who faithfully serve our local community to keep citizens safe.
But I also have friends who have different color skin than me who have voiced their fears about encountering anyone with authority because of their own past experiences. I have family members who have publicly voiced the prayers they have said for their kids (who are not white) as they go on runs in the city where they live. I have also grown up in a culture that has belittled, hijacked, and politically used (on both sides of the isle) the stories of people of color for their own gain.
I’m grieved. I’m angry and sad that the shared Image of God in everyone is not equally dignified.
“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.””
The more that I think about these words and the more that I think about the racial injustice that I see in our country, the more my spirit cries out.
“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…”
God (the Triune God of the bible, who eternally exists in three persons who share in one substance, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who is eternal, all powerful, all loving, worthy of all our praise and honor) made human beings to reflect aspects of who he is.
There is unity in the Trinity – God is one. There are not three separate gods.
But there is also diversity in the Trinity – God has three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who share the same Divinity and substance, co-eternal, co-all-powerful, co-all-loving, co-all-knowing, etc. and worthy of all honor, glory and praise.
God created us in his likeness.
We are united together as human beings. We all share God’s image. He blessed all human beings in sharing his reflection.
Yet we also have diversity. Some are male, some are female. We all differ in the color of our skin. Yet we are still equally image bearers.
But, in Genesis 3, not long after God created everything perfectly and declared it as very good, the first created human beings (Adam and Eve) broke God’s good commandment for them. He gave them everything and restricted them from one thing. But they saw that as God holding out on them, so they intentionally disobeyed God and thus plunged all of creation under the power of sin and death. So now sin infects every aspect of our beings like a terminal cancer spreads throughout a human body. Not one cell, not one faculty, not one thought or intention or motive of our hearts is untouched and uninfluenced by sin.
It’s not like you have to go very far today to witness the depravity of humanity.
Racial injustice is just another consequence of sin.
So a black man goes for a run and gets shot by pedestrians who are then not arrested for two months.
A black man is subdued by police and held down with a knee over his neck while he says he can’t breath. All while pedestrians who the police hold back plead for his life.
Application: So what does that mean for us? What do we do about it?
The truth that the bible reveals to us is that so long as we all remain under the power of sin, all of our actions to seek for justice, while they might bring some semblance of justice for a time, will inevitably bring about abuse and injustice in a new form.
What we first need is someone to save us from sin, to save us from the power and enslavement that sin has upon us.
Colossians 1:13-14 says this: “For he (the Father) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness (that is the power and enslavement of sin) and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (that is Jesus Christ), in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
The only thing that has any hope of creating true and lasting justice is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived the perfect life that you and I could never live. He sacrificed himself, taking the punishment of our sin upon himself as he voluntarily went to the cross. Not only does he take away God’s justice against us due to sin, but God credits to us the righteousness of Christ! He substitutes himself for us and exchanges his life for our death. And then he rose from the dead, conquering sin, Satan and death.
The only hope we have is that Jesus transforms our hearts by forgiving us of our sin and then giving us the Holy Spirit to continually shape us more and more into his very image.
So what does that mean for me? What does that mean for you?
It means that the only way we are going to pursue true justice is when we have first been transformed by Jesus Christ. Without his saving power, we are dead in the water morally speaking. We cannot do anything that is pleasing to God. We need God to resurrect our dead spirits and give us this new life found in Jesus.
And then we must ruthlessly kill the parts of our hearts that feel indifferent to the injustice we see. Indifference is just another form of hating one’s neighbor.
Then we must speak out that injustice cannot stand. But the only thing that can take down injustice is the gospel of Jesus Christ and the love he showed to his enemies while we were still rebelling against him and hating him.
Beyond that, I’m not sure what has to happen. I feel embarrassed to say that I’m new to the conversation, but it’s true and I’ve repented of that. But I pray that God would do a mighty work in our towns, cities, counties, nation, and world to bring about true justice against sin and that through the gospel of his Son, we might see forward movement against racial injustice.