Everyone in America has an opinion about George Floyd, his horrific death via police brutality, and systemic racism in America in the year 2020. Every Christian should be troubled by it all on a multitude of levels. It certainly goes against Christ Who said: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Many are focused on racism as the cause of it all. That’s true on one level. I would prefer to say: “Sin and inner evil are the cause.” This especially includes the agitators and mobs who have fomented violence by using the concerned, peaceful marchers exercising their Constitutional rights as citizens as a shield to their nastiness.
As Christians, it is our duty to speak out against ALL sin and to apply forgiveness when repentance is evident. It is also our duty to support all lawful penalties against lawbreakers—whether they wear a badge or throw rocks and break windows and loot. It is our duty to pray (remember it can move mountains!) for everyone and ask God’s guidance and help—especially for the poor souls who suffer injustice. And it is our duty as citizens to vote and get involved in rectifying the situation following the dictates of our conscience. All this rolls up under the outline St. Paul lays out for us in Romans chapter 13. We are citizens of Two Kingdoms: the Church or the Kingdom of Grace, and the State or the kingdom of earthly power and the social contract between individual people and government at large.
So, when was the last time you voted? When was the last time you included the oppressed and hurting in your daily prayers? When was the last time you spoke up against injustice—like killing unborn babies? Christ tells us to: “love our enemies and to pray for those who spitefully use you”. That is a gigantic order from God, but He’s a mighty big God, isn’t He? Moreover, He can fill our every order, can’t He?
Many of us lived through the race riots of the late ‘60’s along with the war riots at the same time. We navigated the maelstrom of conflicting emotions. As my old Pastor used to say: “The Lord makes things clear over time.” He did. He still does.…
Of course, there are also those zealous believers who want the church corporately to do more than merely preach against injustice and pray. But St. Paul never did that in Rome when he was under house arrest and later beheaded over following Christ. He trusted in the power of the Spirit to change people’s hearts one-at-a-time via that preaching. This is true in American history, too. The Civil War was fought to free the slaves. This principle was both Constitutional and backed by society at large because it recognized, people recognized, that it was Christian. Christians treat everyone equally because: “All are sinners in need of Godly forgiveness” and “Christ died for all.”
The Church dare not tread on individual consciences as to how to respond to systemic racism in our country. We tell them to follow their Godly principles and not violate any other commandments in the process. Some will be more reticent in how they do this, others will be more involved and vocal. But, we’re not a political body. We’re a spiritual one. We know from Christ that He always worked at changing hearts and souls one at a time. And when we do, people will generally do the right thing. If enough Christians act in this manner, then we know that “righteousness will exalt our nation.”
Right now, America is upset and so are all of you. Injustice hit us in the eyeball last week. Dr. Martin Luther King once said (and I remember watching his speech) “I look forward to a time when people judge others by the quality of their character instead of the color of their skin.” Amen to that!
The cartoon character of years gone by: “Pogo” once said: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” It was true then and it’s the same today. We are all sinners who cause and/or allow such evil to fester. So, since each week we preach sin and grace, we’re actually using God’s tools to make a lasting difference in society at large. Every society has undergone upheavals like today. Every society has passed laws to alleviate injustice. But it still rears its ugly head. That’s because people need to change their attitudes one person at a time. Only God can do that. He does it through His Church. It’s called repentance and faith. And it begins with each of you. That’s because society, like the Church, IS you.
Pastor Thomas H. Fox