It has been a while since the last Main Blast article. This one is a little lengthy; please forgive me. I think the topic warrants it.
As you know, a lot has happened in recent days. At present we are still very much in the grips of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. There is also much civil unrest and racial tension with violent and nonviolent protests occurring with the removing or defacing or destroying of public monuments, statues, and the confederate flag, all being said to be in response to perceived systemic and institutional racism.
Furthermore, in keeping with the unrest and racial tension, under the proposed banner of civil unity and the need for the public recognition of past and present racial injustices, there are also calls by certain politicians, actors/actresses, professional athletes, activists, and others to kneel in protest during the playing of our national anthem at public events, to change the existing national anthem itself, and to remove the faces of past American heroes from Mount Rushmore.
Additionally, there are demands for financial reparations to families whose ancestors were the recipients of past unjust treatment, for the changing of long–held names of public landmarks, for the unreserved apologies from those who have benefitted from so-called “white privilege,” and for the sole declaration with one voice that “black lives matter” with anything less or different in pronouncement being judged as provocative and adversarial by nature.
During this month, we celebrate July 4th and the freedoms we abundantly enjoy as American citizens and as followers of Jesus Christ. In light of all the above-mentioned circumstances we presently face, I have been disappointed in particular by the responses of most Christian leaders as to how Christians should themselves respond to the racial and civil crisis that is developing in our country. Many of those responses, in my humble opinion, have been unfortunately unclear, incomplete, weak, and for the most part found wanting to address sufficiently the issues and demands in question.
Therefore, as your pastor, being fully aware, acknowledging, and sympathetic to those who have experienced past racial and social mistreatment, inequities, and sinful hatred (1 John 2:9-11), I would like to share my opinion, in keeping with my first amendment rights as an American citizen, as to how we as Christians, completely committed Christ-followers, regardless of race or ethnicity, should biblically address and respond to the current milieu of civil and racial unrest in which we currently find ourselves. Without wishing to be antagonistic, political, or unduly controversial, these are my seven suggestions with accompanying Scripture:
- Profess openly that every life is precious to God, thus all lives matter because all lives are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). Human life is precious to God, even from the womb (Ps. 139:13-16), and God loves all people, demonstrating such by the second person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, taking human form forever to die and rise again for the sins of the whole world (John 3:16-18; 1 John 4:9-10). We never meet a person who is not special, being made uniquely in God’s image, for whom Jesus did not die and with whom he wishes to have a relationship. I, therefore, as His follower, must think and do likewise and profess openly that all lives matter. If people and their cause do not respect my right to say such and choose to redefine my speech as adversarial, then my life and accompanying opinions must not matter all that much to them in my assessment. Thus, in turn, their cause need not matter all that much to me!
- Demonstrate love for God by choosing to love your neighbor as yourself, regardless of race, ethnicity, or nationality (Matt. 22:37-39). We all have prejudices, whether racial, cultural, political, socioeconomic, physical (I am prejudice toward people with hair for obvious reasons – I am bald!), etc., if we will be honest enough with ourselves to admit such. We may not like certain things about people or agree with all elements of their culture, but to have prejudice toward someone because of skin color or ethnicity, i.e., expressing racism, is wrong. God requires that we think and behave differently in keeping with how Christians are to view humanity, especially those in Christ (Gal. 3:26-29). Racism disrespects God who created the rich diversity of people whom He loves and made in His image. While prejudice certainly exists in our society in various forms, as do many sins disallowed in Scripture, the accusation of some against America as possessing systemic and institutional racism, however, seems to lack credibility on its merits given the number of racial and ethnic minorities involved in and even leading out in many areas of public life including political offices, professional sports, businesses, Hollywood, etc.
- Refuse to bow one’s knee to any but Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:10). While people have the right in this country to express their protest by kneeling during the national anthem, and I defend their right to do so, we as Christians do not have to participate or agree with such. Furthermore, regardless of how one tries to defend such an action, this dishonors the American flag and the nation the flag represents in the minds of many and also dishonors the memory of those who have given their lives in the defense of both. Personally, I refuse to engage in such an act and will not endorse or support any person, professional sports team, or organization with my allegiance, time, or money who chooses to demonstrate or defend protests in this manner.
- Reject the notion that I am responsible for the sins of my forefathers (Deut. 24:16; Ezek. 18:20). While there are calls for public apologies and financial reparations for the sin of racial injustice by past ancestors, I am not responsible for the sins of my parents let alone ancestors long dead of whom I know little or nothing. I am responsible to God and others for my actions, sinful and otherwise, alone; therefore, I have nothing for which to apologize or give reparation. To do so would be illogical, impractical, and in keeping with the scriptures cited above in Deuteronomy and Ezekiel, actually unbiblical.Furthermore, as Christians, and as good advisement to all, we can learn from the past, but we are not to dwell there in any circumstance (Phil. 3:13-16). What is past is settled and done, rightly or wrongly. We cannot change it or make up for it, no matter how hard we may try. Therefore, gain valuable lessons from the past. Do not let the past cripple you, be a source of excuse for you, and by no means refuse to let it define you. Simply put, let it go and move on!
- Adopt the view that tolerance biblically defined is a good character trait (Rom. 2:4; Eph. 4:2 NASB), but it does not mean I have of necessity to adopt the views or actions of others with whom I disagree. To suggest that it is intolerant not to voice exclusively that “black lives matter,” or that it is intolerant not to accept the removing/defacing/destroying of public monuments and statues with accompanying violence, or that it is intolerant not to support the renaming of landmarks or the removing of the confederate flag or the faces of past American heroes from Mount Rushmore, havenothing to do with being intolerant (or with white privilege for that matter). In fact, just the opposite is true. These demands are attitudes of intolerance, because intolerance by definition means an unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one’s own. The Bible condemns violence (Ps. 73:6; Prov. 3:31; 4:15-16), particularly against the innocent (Prov. 6:17) and vandalism (a form of stealing – Exod. 20:15; Lev. 19:11; Mark 10:19). If landmarks need to be renamed, flags or faces on Mount Rushmore need to be removed, or statues need to be relocated, then this needs to be the vote of the will of the majority and not the result of mob violence or a decision of a committee or a few bureaucrats out for political gain.
- Accept as a reality of life that some people are more “privileged,” so to speak, than others by God’s mysterious sovereign design, but that all people are important in the economy of God (John 3:16; Rom. 9:20-21; Eph. 2:11-22). Throughout the course of history, some are born into wealth, others into poverty. Some are born completely healthy, others born with disabilities. Some are born free, others born into slavery. Some are born of one ethnicity, others born of another. It is an act of faith to trust that whatever station in life in which we come into this world and experience during our time here, that God has an overarching plan we may not understand as limited human beings, but He desires for us humbly to accept as the lot He has given us. We are thus not to compare and complain. We should strive to improve our social condition peacefully as God’s power, circumstances, and personal potential allow (1 Cor. 7:21-24; 2 Cor. 12:9-10). But most importantly, we as Christians should responsibly and obediently commit our lives tofollowing Jesus Christ wherever God places us and in whatever circumstances Hechooses for us, in accordance with His perfect purposes and for His excellent glory (1 Cor. 10:31-33; Rom. 15:17).
- Be prayerfully patriotic, loving your country and supporting your governing authorities, unless required by such to violate the dictates of God (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29; Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-2; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). While lawlessness to some degree is always with us (2 Thess. 2:7), Jesus said that before he returns the world would see increasing lawlessness and decreasing love (Matt. 24:12 NASB). Ultimately, this will lead to the man of sin, the Antichrist, the Beast, the lawless one appearing in the end time (2 Thess. 2:3-4, 8; 1 John 2:18; Rev. 11:7; 13:1-8). I see more lawlessness today in America than I have seen in my lifetime. While many are disrespecting, disobeying, and calling for the defunding and disbanding of governing authorities, particularly police departments who maintain law and order on the front lines, we as Christians are called upon in Scripture to obey and honor our governing authorities even when they are not honorable, because it is God who has ultimately placed them in authority over us (Rom. 13:1-4; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). We are also instructed in Scripture to pray for our governing authorities (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Civil disobedience to government is permitted in Scripture only when Christians are required by those authorities to disobey God (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29). But even then, we as Christians must be willing to suffer the consequences peaceably per the example of Jesus’ Apostles (Acts 5:18; 40-42).
- There are bad eggs in every carton or career of life, whether among police officers or in any other profession (even preachers!). But I believe, and by application Scripture teaches, that elected officials deserve our respect for the offices they hold, even when we are not on the same page with them politically. Furthermore, military personnel, police officers, firemen, and EMT workers deserve our respect and gratitude. They courageously put their lives on the line in service of us every day. They are heroes!
Finally, I believe that we are all “privileged” to live in the greatest nation in the history of the world, enjoying political and spiritual freedoms and opportunities that are the envy of the rest of the globe. As Christians, we should never take this for granted. I thank God I am an American, and so should you! There is much to be proud of.
For all those out there who wish to demean, disrespect, or disturb this great country, there are 194 other countries out there from which to choose. I respectfully recommend such folks go and find one that suits them. As they say when it comes to America, “If you don’t love it, leave it!”
I suspect after looking around . . . they will probably be back.
And when they return, they will find once again the land of the free, the home of the brave, and the most blessed people on the planet by God’s grace. Praise God!
I hope these suggestions help.
God bless America and God bless you!