Word for the Day: It takes a change of Heart
Like everyone I know, when I first saw the video of the death of George Floyd, I was appalled. Afterward, I kept thinking, “What was in that cop’s mind? What was he thinking or feeling? How do you just sit there and watch the life drain out of another human?” He seemed so impassive as the moments dragged by! The assumption is that this was the result of something called racism. According to Google, that means “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group….” We assume this violence was race driven. That is likely true, but I will leave that to the lawyers. So, what drives this kind of evil?
Racism has been the default setting of humanity since the tower of Babel. The division of mankind into tribal groups that could no longer talk with each other has led to all kinds of long-term complications. One that certainly still plagues us is the innate drive to stick with our tribe and view others with suspicion, fear, even hatred. If the other tribe happens to be of another pigmentation, that just makes “other” easier to identify.
As a teenager, I lived through the civil rights movement and the upheaval that went with it. The changes made in the law were the right thing to do, I think. It began a process of moving toward our national ideal of equal justice under the law. Unfortunately, law doesn’t deal with the root of the problem: the fallen nature of man. Thanks to Adam, we each come equipped with the inclination to selfishness, self-centeredness, self-gratification, and self-aggrandizement that drives us to all kinds of disgusting behavior. Jeremiah said it this way, ““The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT).”
The racial divisions of Babel were erased in the work of Jesus Christ. To judge another person based on external characteristics is just plain wrong. God started with one race, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth… (Acts 17:26 NKJV)” He has always considered the heart of man to be the issue, not his appearance: “For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV)” On the earth, He sees three kinds of people: Jew, Gentile, and Christian (1 Corinthians 10:31). No skin colors are mentioned, only covenant status.
Here’s the point. Without divine intervention, we’re all racist. We can pass laws to punish racist behavior, but as with murder, theft, adultery, etc. there will always be lawbreakers because hearts are wrong. Only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, His crucifixion and resurrection, can a person’s heart be transformed. In fact, you can follow all the human laws and wear the appropriate politically correct T-shirt, and still be a racist in your heart. God knows, and He is the final judge.
- If you’re a Christian: Racism is a sin. Period. In Christ there is no division. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 NKJV)” If you are evaluating people based on skin color, you are in the flesh. Paul said that we don’ see anyone after the flesh, but as either new creatures in Christ, or sinners for whom Christ died (2 Corinthians 5:14-21) The believer is your brother. The unbeliever is the reason you are still here on earth. Your assignment: beg others to be reconciled to God. In light of Christ’s work for you, any kind of malice toward other humans is unconscionable (Ephesians 4:31-32; John 13:34-35) Racism is unacceptable. I beg you, don’t accept it.
- If you’re not a Christian: Racism is foolish, but it’s really the least of your problems. The racial uproar, the world-wide plague, the political madness among the nations, all these are portents of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:3-8; 2 Timothy 3:1-5) Without faith in Him, you will face the Judge of all the earth on your own. He will judge your heart. Without Christ, you will be found wanting. You will face eternity separated from God: no love, no peace, no end. That is unacceptable. I beg you, don’t accept it.
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. (Romans 10:9-10 NLT)”
Word for the Day: It takes a change of Heart