So this is the third in a blog series I’ve titled #lovethesinnerexperiment. (To see more about this experiment, read the blog titled “An Experiment: Call All Sinners…yes, that means you! posted on April 27, 2016. Then Read “Liar, Liar Pants on Fire” posted on 05/04/16 and The Big “D” on 5/18/16. These blogs are really meant to be read as series.)
I've been working on this blog entry for a few weeks but in light of the recent #Orlando mass shooting, I actually thought of jumping ahead to my thoughts on the LBGT community. However, I think prejudice, bigotry, racism and to a greater extent, hate played a huge role in the Orlando shooting. So I'm going to marinate on these ideas today and then I’m going to tackle some more ‘hot topic’ issues in these next few blogs…go big or go home right? My heart weeps for the victims, families, and friends of the Orlando shooting. And my heart weeps for our world. Irregardless of the reason behind this shooting, whether it be ISIS-related or a hate crime against the gay community or just a hate crime against humanity, sin is at the root of it.
There isn’t all that much in the Bible on the word “racism”. And I think that’s a strong point in itself. Race is relatively irrelevant or at least it probably should be. We are all part of the human race and this proclamation started with creation:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky over the livestock and all the wild animals and over the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them: male and female he created them.
If there were going to be more than the male/female division among us, this might have been a good place to address and it was not addressed so therefore in my eyes, it was probably irrelevant. Interestingly though, God did address a difference between Greeks and Jews (Greeks also known as Gentiles or non-Jews) so rather a difference of religion than race which is actually much more relevant to our current times than you might think.
For there is no difference between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.
And then He further solidifies that there is no partiality among those who believe in Him regarding race, ethnicity, background, or nation:
After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
For the sake of this concept, let's assume prejudice, racism, bigotry and the like are essentially the same. I actually "googled" the difference and it's interesting that most people basically describe these terms as levels whereas bigotry is stronger than prejudice and racism is stronger than bigotry. I don't necessarily agree but Google said so. However, since God doesn't really classify sin according to level, I'm going to go ahead and imply these terms as one in the same. I would imagine (and hope) that most people would admit prejudice, racism, bigotry, etc are wrong. And maybe you might go as far to openly deny the fact you are prejudice. However, if you dug deep enough in your own heart, I wonder how often we might find a resemblance of prejudice or discrimination lingering in our hearts. Here’s a list of hypotheticals for a quick heart check:
You might be laughing because I definitely deviated from “race” just a bit in my hypotheticals. However, all of these could be considered a prejudice of one sort of another. Since God didn’t really spell out race and he chose to address the feeling of superiority or favoritism in general, I thought I would follow His lead. Coca-cola took a similar approach to labels in an awesome experiment. Check it out:
Making a prejudice, judgement, showing favoritism or partiality to others is a sin. (I don’t make the rules. It is spelled out in the bible. If you don’t believe the bible, that’s an entirely different conversation. There’s quite a bit of evidence proving its contents true.)
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism (or partiality), you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
Okay now here is the really tough part if you have been a victim of prejudice, racism, etc:
Loving your neighbor is tough when they are very, very, very different from you but it’s even tougher when your neighbor has displayed discrimination against you. But these verses don’t just apply to the racists or the guilty, they also apply to those persecuted. The victim of racism is to love the racist equally as the racist should love the victim. And I know this is tough. If a member of the KKK walked into a predominantly black church, I understand where it might be very hard to follow this commandment. But we are all sinners. And if you think about it, Jesus set an example for us. Jesus washed the feet of His disciplines…including Judas who betrayed him (to the point of contributing to the death of Jesus) and Peter who denied him.
Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Peter who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
Jesus had to set aside the fact Peter would deny Him, in order to save him. We have to set aside of our judgement of others in order to share the love of Christ with others. And others includes people “from every nation, tribe, people and language”.
Jesus didn’t abandon his disciples based on their background or their behavior. That’s the beauty (and mystery!) of our salvation. No matter where you are. No matter your struggle. No matter if you are a liar, a divorcee or a racist, we are all on equal playing field. And we are all invited to trust and love Jesus. Exactly how we are. And He washes each of our feet if we let Him.
You don’t have to clean up your life (or feet) to be accepted by Jesus. He cleans your heart for you. His loves transforms you.
I condemn racism, hatred, partiality, prejudice, etc. But I know I have to love the racist. I am commanded to love the racist, the divorcee, and the liar. I have to love because we are commanded to love each other, sin and all. Just as Jesus has done for us.
Mark 12: 29-31
Jesus replied, “The most important is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the only and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other command is greater than these.”
I think one of the saddest things I've watched over the last couple of days is the hate crime that was the Orlando shooting actually igniting more hate and more prejudices in our society. This sin is rooted deep my friends.
Racists, sinners and a Savior,
Just a few reflections about everything God is teaching me in this life...a journey deeper into His purpose for my life.