“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him” (Romans 10:12). “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9). “For God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:11).
It is hard to remember a time when more racially charged events in our nation have come in such a wave as they have over the last few months. After all these years of seeing the nation grow in its racial diversity, it is really saddening to see how racism is still such a major problem in our nation. On one hand, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 showed our nation that people of any race or skin color should be seen as equal in all respects. On the other hand, if we thought the Civil Rights Act fixed the issue, then we must be delusional.
This past week, Hillary Clinton rightly said that our nation’s struggle with racism is far from over. People from every race in this nation should be willing to agree with her statement.
Benjamin Watson, who is a tight end for the New Orleans Saints, made comments that were applauded by many while the events were raging in Ferguson, Missouri. He said, “Ultimately, the problem is not a skin problem, it is a sin problem.” I absolutely agree with Watson’s assessment. The fundamental issue that we have is sin. He went on to say, “Sin is the reason we rebel against authority. Sin is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. Sin is the reason we riot, loot and burn. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It is the Gospel.” It is so refreshing to hear celebrities make statements that are so in line with the truths of God’s Word!!
Hear me very clearly. I fully believe we need to point the finger at sin when it comes to the racial conflict that exists in this nation. But sometimes pointing the finger at sin in this sort of way ends up failing to actually name the specific sin that is an issue. Sometimes we need blind spots to be called out by name in order for us to recognize that they are blind spots that demand repentance.
As people from Wisconsin, we can talk about the events in Maryland, and Missouri, and now South Carolina and say that what the people need to hear is that there is a sin problem. When we label “their” issue as sin, we miss an important first step necessary to calling out someone else’s sin. In Wisconsin, we also have a racism problem. As much as we want to try to point the finger at others, we must be willing to point the finger back at ourselves and evaluate how racism is an issue in our own hearts. Milwaukee, a city in our own state, is repeatedly seen as one of the most segregated cities in the U.S.A. Wausau is a city that has the highest percentages of Hmong in all of the cities in the U.S.A. There is diversity in the City of Wausau, yet very little diversity in our own church. How are we going out of our way to show the Hmong, or the African American, or the Hispanic population that we want to show them love and respect? As long as we live comfortably in our segregated Caucasian communities, not seeking racial diversity in any way, how dare we point the finger at other parts of the nation saying that sin is their issue? Sin is not only their issue, it is ours as well.