Over the past couple months, protest, riots, and looting have plagued cities across the nation. Statues are being torn down and police forces are being restructured. This was triggered by the horrific death of George Floyd who had a police officer pinned him down by the neck despite desperate pleas for help. After the death of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, tensions hit an all time high. These events were the final straw!
George Floyd did not deserve to die in that way. Nobody does. If anything, the events over the past couple months have reminded us that something is not right. According to the Bible, that’s because we live in a fallen world and headlines continue to remind us of this reality. Whether or not Floyd’s death was solely motivated by racism, only God knows. What we do know is that racism does exist because the world is broken. I am sure that we would all agree that change needs to happen, but how? How do we guarantee that all people will be treated equally regardless of their ethnicity? How can we make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen again? Perhaps people act out of ignorance and need to be educated. Maybe it is through policy reforms, but are they sufficient?
Jesus said that, “it is from the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks” (Lk. 6:45). In other words, people speak what their hearts are full of. This isn’t limited to our speech, but is also true of our actions. We speak and act according to what is in our heart. This means that if a person’s heart is filled with hatred, it will eventually manifest itself in their speech and actions.
The Bible tells us that humanity has a heart issue, which is why we speak and act the way that we do. People discriminate against others because that is what is in their hearts. I don’t deny that education and policy reform might help, but the sin of impartiality is ultimately a problem of the heart that no amount of education or policy can change because what we need is a new heart (cf. Ezek. 36:26-27; Jer. 31:33). The fruit is reflective of the root, and if we want to change the fruit, we must change the root. If that is true, what is our hope? Certainly, we can bring awareness to these issues, but we can’t change people’s hearts.
The Bible makes it clear that treating another person impartially is a sin because every human being is created in the image of God (Lev. 19:33-37; Jam. 2:1-13). This is not a white on black issue as it is often portrayed by the media. Racism, discrimination, impartiality exists in many shapes and form because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). As a minority, not only have I experienced discrimination from other ethnic groups, I have witnessed those in my own community doing the exact same thing. The Gospel not only names our sin, it calls us to turn from our sin. And the good news, is that when we do confess our sin and turn to God, He is gracious to forgive us.
But not only that, through the living Word, He replaces our heart of stone with a heart of flesh. It is through the gospel that we are born again and transformed into a new creation. The gospel changes hearts, and as a result of a changed heart, good fruit will begin to take root in their lives. Not only that, one of the glories of the gospel is that it has the power to bring about the reconciliation of bitter enemies, once divided by familial and ethnic animosities (Eph 2:11-22). Through Christ, God is reconciling people from all nations, tribe, and tongue and has created a new family, the church.
So where do we go from here…
When we witness injustice, it is right to be angry. It is appropriate to lament over the sin in our nation and we should desire and pursue change. But if there is any hope of lasting change, it will come through the gospel of Jesus Christ alone. For the gospel confronts sin, is the means to our salvation, is what causes us to be born again. Only God can give us new hearts. He alone is the one who can uproot the sin in our hearts. The gospel is what can set us on the path of reconciliation.
Therefore, if you desire change, share the gospel boldly by calling people to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus. If you are guilty of the sin of impartiality, confess it to God and to those whom you have wronged and turn from your sinful ways. Know that Jesus death is sufficient to atone for the most egregious of sins including racism, so “go and sin no more.” If you know someone that is hurting, weep with those who weep, and mourn with those who mourn. Conversation needs to take place, but start with the people in your local church and who you know personally before jumping on social media. Pastors, faithfully preach and apply the word of God. Affirm the dignity of every person as an image bearer regardless of the color of their skin, gender, or social status. Don’t wait until there is a crisis before you do so. Shepherd the flock among you and teach them that there is no place for racism in the church.
As long as we are living on this side of eternity, the church must continue to preach the gospel and call people to repentance. I long for day when sin, racism, and death will be a distant memory, but until that day comes, we must continue to share the gospel. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom: 1:16).
Tou Ger Her (BS, Multnomah University) is a husband to Susie and a father to two wonderful boys. They have faithfully served in pastoral ministry for nearly 5 years and will graduate with an MDiv from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY in December 2020. Tou Ger and his family are passionate about seeing the truth of God proclaimed to the ends of the earth.