Three Ways to Respond to Racism Following Charlottesville

If you’re reading this, you’ve most likely heard about what occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week. There’s no sense in me rehashing the actions or views of white supremacists, at least not for the purposes of this post. History has shown us what they’re about and what they’re trying to accomplish, and it’s shameful. My heart hurts that this is still an issue in 2017.

I’ve been glad to see those with a significant public platform weighing in on and decrying white supremacy. We must condemn evil and injustice without hesitation. Emphasizing one’s own position on such a topic is important, but I also think it’s largely incomplete. I’m convinced that we need to do more than just loudly state our position.

How can we respond in meaningful ways that will help extinguish the spread of such evil ideologies? What can we actually do in the face of this kind of evil?

This is hardly a complete list, but here are three actionable things we can all do in response to the sin of racism.

1. Pray

It’s been helpful for me to look at the situation in reverse — not as it is, but as it one day will be. Here’s what I mean. One day, racism and all of its ugliness will cease to exist. Revelation 7:9–10 gives us a picture: “After this I looked, and behold a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb … crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

Questions like, “Will this hatred ever end?” need to be met with a resounding YES. When Jesus taught us to pray, He included the words, “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Racial division is not the Father’s will. It’s clear in this passage from Revelation that we’ll retain our ethnic diversities in heaven, but we’ll be united as one in worship. Pray that it becomes so, on earth as it is in heaven.

2. Repent

When we’re confronted with abhorrent behavior, we have a proclivity to compare that person’s evil with our own goodness. That’s where phrases like, “I would never…” and “How can they…” and “I can’t believe they…” come from. In other words, we’re shocked at the sin of others and mostly indifferent to our own. The message of the Gospel is that there are none who are righteous — no, not one. So maybe the better comparison isn’t “how am I unlike them,” but instead “how am I like them?”

As sick as it makes me, and even though some of the people I care about the most are different races than me, there have been moments that I’ve failed this test. I’ve devalued the illegal immigrant. I’ve cast judgement in police-related shootings without all the facts. I’ve wondered if the man walking towards me in the city might try to mug me, for no other reason than his skin color. This is sin, and it calls for daily examination and repentance.

3. Teach

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

In Christian circles, we like to say “If you don’t talk to your kids about this, someone else will.” There’s wisdom there, but we’re selective with what we apply it to. Yes, if you don’t talk to your kids about sex, someone else will. And yes, if you don’t talk to your kids about drugs, someone else will. But what about racism? Is it possible that they’ll witness racism on the bus, on the playground, on the sports field or, God forbid, in a church building long before they witness sex or drugs? You’d be a fool to believe they won’t. You don’t need to wait until a child comes “of age” to have this conversation. Talk about it openly, call it what it is and discuss why it’s sinful. If you don’t, someone else will.

Like every other sin, I don’t expect racism to be fully eradicated this side of the return of Christ. Events like Charlottesville are open reminders that the sin of racism is clear and present and must be met with a response. Would you join me in praying for unity, repenting from sin, and teaching our children?

Authored by NCC Assistant Pastor Jonathan Valletta | | Facebook

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