Created in His Image
What more can be said than has been said? – The state of our country is devastating. When we look at the physical, financial, and emotional trauma of the coronavirus, it felt like a crippling blow. Yet without hardly a breath between, we then witnessed the murder of George Floyd, and a pent-up frustration exploded across the nation.
We should in no way condone looting and rioting, but the protests bring before us something long simmering on the backburner that we must confront in all its forms: racism.
I understand that there are many out there who are turned off by what they’ve been seeing, and there are many who read politics into the situation. I, for example, fundamentally disagree with defunding and villainizing the police, and I disagree with the idea that America is inherently racist through-and-through. However, that is a different discussion. The reality is that while we may not be sitting in the 60s or the era of slavery, racism is alive and well, and it is an evil that corrupts everything it touches.
To be sure, there are few things that stand so directly opposed to the gospel more than racism. When the Scriptures opened by detailing God as Creator over all, and then telling us that mankind was created in His image (Genesis 1:27), it definitively put to rest any idea that one human could in any way be lesser than another. What gives us worth and value is not skin color or wealth or social standing. Rather, what gives us inherent worth is being “fearfully and wonderfully made” in God’s image (Psalm 139:14).
Now, I doubt there is any believer who would disagree with those truths, but to simply not disagree is not enough. Consistently, the Church has been called to action. We are the sent ones. Look, for example, at the calling of Abraham at the beginning of Genesis 12. There, he was told that “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). The idea there is that Abraham was blessed in order to be a blessing, called through God’s unconditional grace to unconditionally spread the life and dignity and salvation found in God alone. Look also at the great commission given by Jesus at the end of Matthew 28, a command to go to all nations.
Or, when we look at Jesus, we see this command fulfilled and best exemplified when he donned our likeness and did not sit to dine with the wealthy and powerful, but when he spent his time with the social outcasts. To the lepers, to the woman with the discharge of blood and the Gentile demon-possessed outcast man in Mark 5, to even the unschooled disciples, Jesus constantly subverted the expected norms of culture to reach those on the outskirts. The reasons why are many, but one thing it unabashedly confirms to us is that even those we would consider lesser are those held in high esteem by the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of Heaven and Earth.
There is no racial injustice in the Kingdom of Heaven. There is no separation of classes, and no elevation given to the powerful or wise. Instead, as we read in the book of Revelation, all languages, tribes, tongues, and nations will be around the throne of God (Revelation 7:9). He comes with healing in His wings not for some but for all who call on Him, because His grace is unconditional and indiscriminate.
So when we see the anger and frustration spilling out in the form of fires and destruction, you can be disheartened, and you can think that perhaps the response has been overblown. But that’s not the issue. Rather, the heart of the matter is that there is no revising of the system and no political answer that will bring unity to people, because racial injustice is not a political matter but a moral matter.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”. The Declaration of Independence did not seek to invent rights from thin air; they based them on the supreme Word of God. Thus, a political solution was never meant to be the answer to equality, because equality was admittedly based on something great than America: the Bible.
So when we approach the outpouring of pain and hatred in this country, we must understand that despite having it embedded into our very DNA as a nation that all men are equal, we have seen that the hearts of mankind have embedded into their very DNA sin and iniquity. Therefore, the solution can never be to point to what could be. Rather, it is to point to what is.
In Christ Jesus, all men, women, and children, regardless of socio-economic status, regardless of skin color, regardless of intellect or anything else, are equal and valued as children of God, to be united forevermore. The only answer to the rot of racism is Jesus, for apart from him we will never be rid of injustice and inequity.
So what can we do? – We must begin by praying. Politically, you may be turned off by phrases like “Black lives matter”, but spiritually, the fact that the phrase exists should be gutting. It is true that violence has been done under that banner, but it is all the more true that there exist people in the greatest, freest, most prosperous country in this world that truly do not feel like their lives matter. There are those who are under direct threat of racism, and there are those who – even if they may not be directly affected by it – are scared simply because of the color of their skin. It proves definitively that no amount of material prosperity can bring inward unity.
As such, we must begin with prayer. Prayer for forgiveness against this unending evil, and prayer for a unity not based in the ideals of man but in the unchangeable Word of God. We only find true unity and true equality when joined together by the blood of Christ, who “has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14), so that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Second, we must listen and learn. While I have not personally lived in a culture of racism, that does not mean it does not exist. Likewise, the only way to speak the hope of Jesus and the unity found in him is to understand the wound that it will heal. Instead of passing an immediate judgment as people, we must listen as Christians. James 1:19 commands, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger”. Our initial response is usually to make a snap judgement, but the goal of God’s Kingdom is not to pick the right situation over the wrong but rather to bring the dead to life.
The Church is the picture of heaven that everyone craves. It’s the place of equality, the place of racial harmony. It is the ideal embedded into every hopefully heart. Therefore, the hope of the nation rests in Christ alone. We may weep and mourn at what we see, but we cannot move on. Instead, we must pray, listen, and speak to the world of the unifying Savior. Black, white, brown and others will only be unified when covered by red – the blood of Christ.
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My name is Bryan Lanting. I am a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary, and I am presently serving Mt View CRC as their pastor. I am married to a wonderful wife named Sydney, and both of us are loving life, loving Lynden, and loving the Lord!