By David Dombrowski
Our nation is in the midst of civil unrest as we have not known for many decades. Still in the throes of the coronavirus, rioting, upheaval, and violence seem to have eclipsed it with frequent reports and video footage of communities being trashed, burnt, and pillaged all in the name of freedom and equality. Many of those who have expressed disagreement with these means are labeled as bigoted and racist; thus, the hatred and violence that instigators are incurring on our nation is camouflaged.
Meanwhile, low-income black communities, ironically, will end up suffering the most with the present discussions of defunding or minimizing police forces across America, leaving these communities unsafe and unprotected.
George Floyd’s death was tragic and brutal, but what can be gained when the so-called solution is brutalizing and terrorizing American citizens (of all colors)? While many who are demonstrating are trying to do it peacefully and with intentions to bring recognition and action to needed police reform, what about the not-so-peaceful and often downright violent demonstrations? What about those who go about leaving a wake of destruction behind them? And what about the radical socialist-motivated groups who have instigated (and are heartily financed by democracy-despising sources) the violent reactions—groups whose agendas reach far beyond the scope of racial equality? Are all these, in some crazy way, ultimately helping? If we look at it from the point of view of these groups, the problem and solution are exceedingly complex.
However, complex as it may seem, the problem and the solution may not be so very complex after all. Perhaps Americans, including many Christians, are looking in the wrong places for answers. Scripture has a way of providing simple solutions to seemingly difficult problems—if only people would turn to the Lord and His Word for the answers.
Remember, it is Jesus who said that mankind’s sin problem proceeds from the heart. After being confronted by the religious leaders who said that His disciples had defiled themselves by eating bread with unwashed hands, Jesus later explained to His disciples:
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man. (Matthew 15:18-20)
It seems that Jesus must have also been seeing into our generation at this very time when He said these words because the Critical Race Theory (CRT) mandating confessions of “institutional/systemic racism” now being promoted in secular institutions and some of our churches and seminaries is really all about confessing the lie that all whites are racist by virtue of being white (which is actually a racist statement against whites). They maintain that racism is currently at the very heart of America because of slavery and because some of the “fathers” and pioneers of America were slave owners. Bob Woodson, a black civil rights veteran and the founder of the Woodson Center, disagrees. He says that while slavery is a birth defect of America, it does not define who America is. (source*)
Webster’s definition of racism states: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”(**see note below). The Oxford Dictionary says racism is “the belief that certain races are better than others; discrimination against or hostility towards those of other races.” No matter what color your skin is, if your beliefs fall within these definitions, then you are a racist. Granted, God has given everyone a moral conscience to know right from wrong (just watch a toddler sneak a cookie and know she has done something wrong); with that in mind, it is inaccurate to say that all whites are racist. All whites sin just as all blacks sin, but we cannot say that every member of any one particular people group practices the same sins.
The fact is, there are racists within all races of people, and the reason is found within the words of Jesus—man’s heart and the sin which lies within it. We are all descendants of Adam and have inherited the sin nature. Society can educate people (which certainly can, at times, be helpful) and can force people to confess to the transgression of racism, but if someone is a racist, he will remain that until God deals with his heart because racism, like all sin, will remain until the sin problem is dealt with. This is the only real remedy for sin; and to truly be free from the bondage of sin, be it racism, envy, jealousy, hate, murder, sexual sin, deceit, greed, and so forth is to receive Jesus Christ as Savior (who takes our hearts of stone and gives us tender hearts where love and compassion reign).
Some may say: well, if that were true, why is it, over the course of history, that so many who claimed to be Christian did horrible things including participation in slavery.
First, not all who say they are Christian are that. Being a Christian involves truth, faith, and relationship; when a person acknowledges his own sinfulness, confesses (believes) that Jesus Christ died and resurrected to save him from his sins, and puts his faith in Christ, a change takes place, and he is born from above (born again). Now as a child of God, he is able to have a relationship with Him. Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Once we have that living relationship with Christ, He begins to change our hearts. Look at John Newton, the slave trader who became convicted of his sins, gave his life to the Lord (and became an abolitionist), and wrote one of the most beautiful and meaningful hymns, Amazing Grace.
Second, becoming a Christian does not mean that one is perfect. Christians do sin. In the Bible, it says “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8). But as Christians, the Holy Spirit convicts our heart when we sin, and He can cleanse our hearts when we do sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
But the sure cure for racism is to receive the salvation that Jesus offers, which allows Him to do the work of transforming us from the inside out. Until then, we will be striving but never attaining. Society can force people with laws to live uprightly and to treat others justly and rightly, and so should such laws be in place. But laws cannot change hearts, and that is what is truly needed to fight racism and the other horrible sins that so badly hurt people.
In a recent interview,* civil rights veteran Bob Woodson, whom I quoted earlier, describes how he has worked with low-income black communities for the last 38 years in helping them achieve their hopes for a better future. This man has peacefully fought for civil rights over the years and, at the same time, has acquired tremendous wisdom and insight as to why many inner-city black communities are still struggling. When asked how he feels about whites apologizing for past racist acts committed by others and for the condition of such black communities (which is what Critical Race Theory and intentional racism are insisting on), he responded that he is deeply offended by this practice and finds it very insulting to black people. He explained that, what intelligent blacks are really hearing is that blacks are incapable of rising above their condition until and unless whites clear the way for them. Consequently, he finds the practice, now instituted in many colleges under Critical Race Theory, to be patronizing at best. Even many evangelical groups, like the Southern Baptist Convention, have adopted CRT.
We have heard other reports from black people who feel very uncomfortable when a white person approaches them and apologizes for things others have done in the past. Perhaps, this helps the white person rid himself of an acquired guilt complex, but it really does nothing to promote a sense of true equality between races. Again, we must remember that God created all people as equal, in that we all have a common origin in the singular parents, Adam and Eve. DNA tests prove that we all have this common origin, thus proving the biblical record. Evolution may suggest “spontaneous generation” and “inferior and superior species,” but the Bible has proven itself to be consistent with the facts. In knowing this, it should not be difficult for us to see that God loves everyone (Christ gave His life with the shedding of His blood for all). The Bible also says that God does not respect one person above another (Acts 10:34). So, if Jesus is residing in our hearts, we also should love everyone in the same fashion; what is really needed is to have the love He has for all to be placed into our hearts through faith in Him.
It doesn’t take much to see that between the coronavirus and George Floyd’s death that God is disclosing what’s in the heart of man. For some, it is racism and brutality; for others, it is hatred, violence, and anger; for others, greed and covetousness; and others fear and even cowardness. It is my prayer that during this time, when the sin and weakness of men’s and women’s hearts are being revealed, that many will turn to Him in contriteness and humility and that God will purify the church and help us to be a light to a lost and desperately needy world. I leave you with a verse from the Old Testament. It was written by the prophet Ezekiel to the people of Israel, but it reveals what God will do to the heart who turns to Him:
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)
*(One word of caution: The Epoch Times edited into the interview a three-minute video clip of a woman who was vehemently rebuking the rioters for destroying areas of the city that were low income and challenged. While her message was absolutely valid, she was very distraught (understandably) and used a lot of profanities. You can skip over this section (30.10-33.04 minute mark) as the interview itself explains what her message was.
**As we were going to press with this article, we learned that the editors of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary have just made the decision to add systemic aspects of racism (e.g., CRT) to their age-old definition of racism. (source)
(photo of heart from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)