September 2013: Featured Post
lifeseek.org is be re-featuring a thought-provoking essay that is designed to stimulate healthy dialogue and a collective resolve to seek the face of God for answers of some of the most pressing issues of our age. Your participation and feedback is very important to us and we encourage you to leave your comments, facebook or tweet this post after reading.
“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman)” (Numbers 12:1)
With the current climate surrounding issues of racism in America, the above scripture would probably be taken as being racist in nature. When you look at convergent definitions of racism, however, that particular description wouldn’t apply. Racism properly defined highlights the element of power. This power (institutional, physical force, political, etc.) is used intentionally, or unintentionally, to impose an unfair ideology that exploits or demeans people. This can be based on color, worldview, socio-economic status, etc. Expressed in the above account we see several things: national pride, prejudice, jealousy, discrimination, and envy, but not racism. Most people regard prejudice as synonymous with racism, but it is not. Prejudice is referent of personal choice or preference. Discrimination is referent of the capacity or ability to be selective based on various criteria…these are not racism. These things in and of themselves are not negative, but when they are used for coercive or exclusionary purposes, then they become problematic. When dissecting racial issues it is important to look at history, current facts surrounding racial climate, statistics, sociology, psychology, personal experience, and the experiences of others. From here, general principles of engaging racial issues can be produced, but it is usually not wise to make conclusive statements. Where does that leave us?
Well, if you are Christian, the above should be a point of reference for interaction. This and other scriptures show us that racism is
really not the issue, but sin most certainly is. The Lord judged Miriam and Aaron for the accusatory nature of their statements towards Moses, not for being prejudiced against Miriam. Their hearts had envious, jealous, self-righteous, and condemning thoughts toward other human beings- therein lies the heart of the issue of racism. Sin is the nature of man that is broken and refuses fellowship with God. Our hearts shake and angry fist at God and refuse to pledge allegiance to one who is greater; we refuse to be ruled by one who has our best interest in mind, and we choose to be our own ruler. As a result, we become separated from God, and consequently we cannot see the imprint of God on other human beings…his breath of life actually becomes a relational irritant. With no one to rule our hearts, we put faith in our own ability to rule; we who cannot rule our own selves justly, then decide that we should rule well over others, but sin makes a cruel master. Not only do we find ourselves enslaved to our own pseudo-virtuous philosophies, but as our own rulers now, we unjustly judge the philosophies, lifestyles, and the humanity of others.
Therein lies the heart of racism- we shun God and consequently shun his image in others. Ruling over ourselves and respectfully loving others is a result of having the heart of the ONE who rules in total love, in total justice, and in perfect judgment. If you are Christian, we should be angry at injustice in the world, but most of all, we should be angry at how marred our society is because of sin. Before we toe the picket line, make phone calls, blog our minds, and jump on the bandwagon…we should pray. We should ask God to give us his heart and mind for both victim and aggressor: to love each with his love, to hate violence and all associated attitudes, to have justice brought to each situation, to face our own prejudices with conviction and courage, that the light of God’s love would reach the darkest places, and for wisdom for law giving and law enforcing individuals.
Seminars, rallies, and courses are great to attend but these things in and of themselves do not change the human heart…only God can do that. And that is why with in all of the philanthropic, political, and social efforts that we push for, the main agenda….the main agenda…is that God be glorified.