I’ve seen so many social media posts about racism this week that my eyes hurt. I can’t find the latest episode of my grandkids’ online life for all the posturing and pontificating coming from all directions. I’m not the smartest kid on the block, so I’m a bit embarrassed that I have to be the one doing this, but if you’ll settle down and be quiet for a minute, I’ll tell you how we can cure our racist ills.
Telling people that they have no voice in the matter because their skin is a different color is – well, racist. Part of the definition of that word is to feel that one race is superior to another. When you declare that one group is not entitled to an opinion or allowed to participate because of the color of their skin, you are shoving that group beneath all the others, and, in the process, perpetuating the very thing you say you’re against.
Symposiums and equality congresses devolve into each group telling the others how they want you to treat them. Then they all go home declaring they have made progress in bringing people together.
No you haven’t. All you’ve done is found an outlet for your feelings and opinions. You feel good because you got to say your piece in front of an audience — not because you’ve moved people toward each other.
If you’re really interested in overcoming racism, grab your Bible and have a seat. In the gospel of Mark, chapter twelve, you’ll find a fellow who wants Jesus to tell him what the greatest of all the commandments is. Jesus tells him that the greatest of all commandments is to love God with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength — which isn’t that big of a problem because those are spiritual concepts for which there is no physical standard that we can stand beside and see if we pass or fail.
But then, Jesus messes it all up.
Jesus says the greatest of all commandments has two essential and indivisible parts. The first we’ve already discussed: loving God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. But to this, Jesus connected the requirement to “love thy neighbor as thyself.”
And just like that, we’ve moved from the nebulous love God command, to the precise and measurable love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself demand.
And God says these commandments are stuck together. Inseperatable. And the man who may have been Jesus’ closest friend while He was on Earth, wrote that anyone who said they loved God, but hated their neighbor was a liar (I John 4:20).
In this short command, God gave us the only antidote for racism that exists. No government initiative will stop it. No convention or parade will dissuade it. It can only be fixed by love.
See, racism is really not the issue. It is simply the outward expression of an internal problem. It is the physical symptom of a spiritual illness. Racism, as well as hatred and stealing and every other kind of action that harms your fellow man, is not only a sin, but is a direct attack against God himself.
God didn’t ask you to love your brother. He didn’t suggest that life would be better if you loved your neighbor. He didn’t say pray that Cupid’s arrow would strike your heart and you would develop generous feelings toward your neighbor.
None of that. God’s demand that we love our neighbor is a command. No way out of it. No way around it. No excuses. Love your neighbor as thyself.
We mess up because we think love is only a response to an uncontrollable emotion. The Bible teaches differently. Love is a spiritual commitment. It’s not something I do because it feels good. It’s not something I display because I’m emotionally attached to people. It’s what I do because God said to do it.
Loving my neighbor is as much a direct command to act as my dad’s demand that I carry out the garbage.
So, here’s your antidote. Act toward your neighbor as you act toward yourself. No emotional connection. No hope for reward. Just the hard and faithful work of building up your neighbor.
Now, I could go on and on here. I could point out how the Law of Moses required a man take care of his brother and his brother’s belongings. I could point out that most of the Ten Commandments talk about how we treat our neighbor. But that would wind up being a book that nobody would buy, so I’ll save that part for another time.
Until we start loving those that God places in our paths, regardless of their culture, color, or language, we’ll not move an inch closer to ridding ourselves of this reminder that we’re still struggling with sin and haven’t really mastered loving God. Until the hard work of love becomes the driving force of our daily lives, we’ll never fully experience the depth of love God desires for us to know.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.