|The Sin of Racism…
It has happened again. Our nation mourned another senseless tragedy of racism as hundreds of people gathered for an emotional memorial service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. A 21 year old gunman, Dylann Roof, confessed shooting 8 church members and the pastor as they participated in a Bible study at the church. Our hearts break as we seek to respond to such pain, destruction, and evil in our world. Certainly our response is beyond human understanding and calls for a Biblical response of redemption and reconciliation. This tragic situation reminds us once again that the sin of racism, which goes back to the sin of enslavement and hatred, is still well and alive in America.
In her post in preparation for the 2015 Leadership Summit on the topic, “The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation”, Trillia Newbell says, “Now is the time to ask the hard questions about racism.” She goes on to share the hard truth about racism:
“Racism is a painful word. Nobody wants to be labeled as such. Many actually believe that because we are 50 years past the Civil Rights era, we are somehow magically past racism. Racism is painful because, by definition, it’s another human being who hates another human being based on the God-given color of their skin.
Yet, in God’s economy, we are all created equal. In the beginning, God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:26). So why would fellow image bearers hate one another based on something like skin? Because after creation, sin entered the world and distorted our view of humanity (Genesis 3).
Racism is the result of sin. In order to fight it we have to find the root—we have to do some heart surgery and look for the real problem. For many, I believe racism is rooted in pride. We can often believe that we are greater than others and think they are not worthy of existence. We can be partial and sinfully prefer those like us over those who are unlike ourselves (James 2: 1-13). And at times, the display of racism is not blatant—it doesn’t manifest itself through racial slurs. It can be hidden away in the heart.
The hard truth is that racism and the way it strips man of his dignity will be with us until the consummation of Christ’s kingdom. This is why the Church must be a safe place for difficult discussions about race. We must not only be unafraid to discuss it, but acknowledging that it still exists in many places in our country and can often be hidden away in our own hearts. We cannot be passive. Just like all temptations, pride and arrogance toward others must be confronted and fought with the truth of God’s Word. Don’t make the assumption that it is something you or your friends or your congregations can ignore.”
The tragedies like what we’ve seen Charleston and other places remind us that the sin of racism and injustice calls us to a deeper sense of repentance as Christ followers and as a nation. The Bible says in I John 1: 9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (ESV) Newbell encourages us by saying, “…the good news is that our struggle with sin is not a fight we have to fight on our own. Like with all struggles, God provided a way of escape and a rescue from that sin. He provided His Son, Jesus, who gave his life for the racist. God’s love is great for His children, and He does not withhold good things, including continued, transformational forgiveness. This is the good news for you and for all of us—God provides a way of escape through His Son. A beautiful aspect of the gospel is that it doesn’t stop giving with salvation. God continues to work in our hearts until we are glorified and with Christ.”
The church must join hands with fellow brothers and sister in Christ to pursue racial reconciliation which can only be achieved through the cross of Christ. The church must lead the way to listen, to speak out, to pray and then to take action. Can we do the opposite of what the gunman wanted? Can we affirm God’s love for all people and pursue healing and reconciliation?
Rick Warren challenged Christians to respond in this way:
“The gunman’s intention was to divide people,
so we must unite in our grief.
His intention was to show hatred,
so we must show love.
His intention was to kill,
so we must protect life – all of it. Every life matters.
His intention was to do evil,
so we must respond by doing good.
His intention was to start a race war,
We must be peacemakers.
His intention was to further segregation,
so we must model integration in our churches,
His intention was to do an injustice,
so we must stand for justice.
And his intention was to do harm,
so we must be agents of healing.”
How will I respond? How will you respond? We can ask the Lord to forgive those who have sinned against us through racism. We can pursue one another in love, and fight against racism. We can seek the transformational work of the Holy Spirit to bring forgiveness and healing. We can work toward racial reconciliation. We must do all these things for we are the Body of Christ.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21 (ESV)
– Wayne Van Regenmorter
June 29-30: Vacation Days
1: Vacation Day
2: Synod Executive Team Meeting/Camp Manitoqua/Frankfort, IL
3: Independence Day Holiday
5: Sunday Worship
7: Conference Call/Coaching
8: Ridder Church Renewal Conference Call
9: Travel to Florida for meetings
10: Consistory Meeting/Reformed Community Church/Venice, FL
11: Meeting/Well of Hope/Orlando, FL
12: Congregational Meeting/Reformed Community Church/Venice, FL
13: Travel to St John, IN
14: Meeting/Beecher, IL
15: KEZ Meeting
16: Meeting/Faith Church, Dyer, IN
19: Sunday Worship
Wayne’s contact information:
10088 Prairie Knoll Ct.
St. John, IN 46373
Mobile: (941) 302-1281