On Anger, Racism, and Other Foolishness

And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.
(Genesis 4:10)

A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.
(Proverbs 18:6-7)

This rainy morning finds me somewhat melancholy. For one, I blew my top at my eldestFight004 yesterday. Although he did not deserve to shoulder the brunt of my wrath, he was the unfortunate person in my path when I reached a tipping point. I took my eyes off the Lord and focused on my problems instead, and I am heartbroken at my own foolish response to my child.

 

I am, however, proud to say that he handled the whole thing with maturity that put me to shame. But today, another problem also grieves my heart: the ridiculous and entirely insane fact of racism. I have never understood this issue. I never will.

In high school, I had the misfortune to be admired by a boy who belonged to a group of Neo-Nazi skinheads; a racist group that existed in my town in the 1990s.  I recall one of his friends handing me some printed material – some preposterous drivel about sending the black people back to Africa and taking back “our” country.

Far from gaining my respect, this nonsense raised a cold fury in my heart. One of my closest – and indeed, one of my only – friends at the time was black. Of all the people in my grade, she was also quite possibly the one I respected the most.

Refusing to be defined by any clique, Miss C was funny, gregarious, and cheerful even when life was hard. When depression eclipsed my heart and I became sullenly withdrawn, often behaving like a complete freak, she still always treated me with a dignity I knew I didn’t deserve. Thus, for some combat boot-wearing child to tell me that she needed to be shipped back to Africa aroused only my contempt.

Needless to say, that little boy never earned my affection, but he has since earned my pity.  How sad a life to believe oneself superior to another by a mere accident of birth! How wretched to be so lacking in logic as to think white skin gives one a “rightful” claim to a land mass that was originally wrested from a brown-skinned people. How horrible to live so full of hate and darkness.

My response to the Neo-Nazi race propaganda remains the same today as it was when I was a teen. Though we might share a skin color, we emphatically do not share an ideology. If anyone ought to be shipped back anywhere, it is us representatives of a lighter-skinned population – the descendants of land thieves, exploiters, and slave-owners.

Although I am ashamed that these things likely lurk in my ancestral closet, I am not my ancestors. Personally, I agree wholly with the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. that each of us ought to be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our epidermis.

Recently, the above-mentioned friend posted on Facebook about several instances of racism she has experienced in her life, some flung out by foolish peers and others perpetrated by authority figures. It grieves me to think of those incidents, and again I admire her that she has never given up hope in the human spirit despite such atrocities.

Then… then I heard about what happened in Virginia. May I state something for the record? As a white woman, I utterly reject any such notion as “white supremacy.”  The very idea of something as arbitrary as pigmentation offering any people group supremacy over another is not only abhorrent, it is entirely illogical.

As if my friend or any other person has any control over the very fact of being born! To hate someone for that is the very paramount of ridiculousness.

Oh, people! Have we still not learned? There is truly only one race among humanity; we are all of the human race. Despite differences in skin color, hair color, eye color, geography,  or intelligence quotient, we are all subject to the same curse of sin. It is sin that breeds such nonsense as racism. It is also sin that bears a grudge and refuses to forgive.

Today, I am sorry for all the atrocities of human nature, for every news headline that demonstrates the truth of words penned so many centuries before: “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

I weep for those damaged by racism and hatred; both those who are its victims as well as those whose souls are devoured by such cancerous hatred. I pray for my beautiful nieces whose skin is browner than mine, that they may see the goodness of God more completely because of the evil of mankind. I love that my own children have friends of many colors, shapes, sizes, and nationalities.

I also long for mankind to judge rightly, assessing one another by the content and expression of character rather than arbitrary cosmetic differences. More than that, I hope that we will learn to humbly apply the standard most rigorously to our own sorry selves.

Yet even as I write, I realize that I stand condemned by my own character as evidenced by my childish outburst mere hours ago. It seems that we will need something more than character. As a species, we are in need of grace.

As Ravi Zacharias wrote, “…no matter what part of the world we come from or what strata of society we represent, we must all admit our own shortcoming–that we only feel exonerated when we gauge our level of saintliness in comparison to someone else of lesser esteem.”

My friends and brothers of all colors, we are all of lesser esteem.

The solitary standard by which we may rightly measure our own character or that of another is the perfect standard of holiness – the standard of God Himself expressed in human flesh by the works and person of Yeshua Messiah (Jesus Christ).

If you are tempted to look down on another person, look up to Him first. He alone offers true grace, for He is the sole owner of holiness and worthy of reverence. The rest of us stand condemned daily by our own, innumerable childish outbursts.

One final plea – as you do look to Him, be certain that you are looking to Him alone. Humanity has perpetrated many evils in His name, all of which will be called to account someday. Beware of discarding the veracity of God because of the fumbling mishandling of sinful humanity.

No matter where you stand on the issue of racism, know that the sinful expression of anger is only foolishness. Even those of us who are victims must be careful of our responses. My rather loud outpouring of fury to my son last night was no less an expression of foolishness than that of the anger-fueled murder of other people in Virginia days ago.

I feel deep sorrow for my angry words, and I feel no less sorrow for the very fact of racism. Yet as I was reminded rather painfully last night, responding in anger only feeds a fire which already rages out of control, damaging all who are caught in its blaze without regard to complicity.

With full understanding that by giving vent to my anger I have played the part of a fool, I leave you with a Proverb as it is translated from the original Hebrew by David H. Stern, a Messianic Jewish scholar:

Don’t answer a fool in terms of his folly, or you will be descending to his level; but answer a fool as his folly deserves so that he won’t think he is wise.

Proverbs 26:3-4, CJSB

My friends, let us no longer act as fools and beasts ruled by our impulses, but let us instead submit in humility to God and allow Him to set us apart for holiness instead, agreeing with His definitions of goodness and truth, imitating His example of perfect love, and shunning evil – especially the evil that lies in our own hearts.

Hands002

(As a side note, all comments on this website are modereated. While America may still play at offering freedom of speech, I do not, nor do I tolerate disrespect. Any useful, respectful, gracious words will published; all hateful comments or angry retorts will be heartily ignored).

 

 

An Appeal to my Brethren of Any Color

And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
(Mat 24:10-12)

I am a white woman.

There is nothing I can do about this. I was born this way.

My sisters are white women. They did not choose their skin color, either, but were also born this way. All three of us have some things in common: our skin is  of that pinkish-tan hue that for some reason is called “white” and our hair and eyes are brown. We can make alterations with dyes, contacts, and other superficial and temporary aesthetic changes, but we can never be anything but white women.

Besides our coloring, we three share other characteristics. We all made similar mistakes before we came to know Jesus as King and Lord of our lives. Despite our love for Him, we all are imperfect and still struggle with sin. We all make mistakes, we are all learning to humble our hearts and repent when we do, and we encourage each other to this end.

Additionally, we are all married to husbands we love and have children we adore. As it happens, our husbands are also human beings, are imperfect, make mistakes, and are striving to be Godly men who love and support their families.

But there is one difference that, to us, is insignificant but to this irrational and fear-driven society in which we live, often becomes inflated beyond aesthetics: one of our husbands is black.

And to be truly honest, I don’t care.Hands004

I enjoy my brothers-in-law equally. I love the
m both the same. At times, I am even irritated by them both the same, not because of their skin color, but because of our mutual sin natures. What I mean is that sometimes my irritation may be justified while at other times it is not because I, too, struggle with sin and pride and fail to be humble. To me, my brothers are no more or less different than my two sisters. We are all in this family together, and Lord willing, we will all be together from now and forever on into eternity.

Why am I telling you all this? Frankly, this is nothing short of an outright plea to all fellow members of the human race to stop thinking in skin colors and remember who the real enemy is.

The real enemy is not marked by something as arbitrary as the amount of melanin in a person’s skin. The real enemy is not a person at all; he is a liar and the father of lies, and he has come to kill, steal and destroy. And in fact, that is just what I see him doing when the racial pot is stirred.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
(1Pe 5:8)

Please, brothers and sisters of all colors, please remember this. In God’s house, there is not black and white but we are all one in Christ, part of His body and paid for by His blood. Please do not be distracted by our enemy’s attempts to divide us up into little knots made up of labels we have imposed upon ourselves. We are not merely black and white — we are Christ’s and it is for Him that we should stand together.

I am not saying racism does not exist. It does; I have seen it too often to ignore. What I am saying, however, is that we who are one in Christ ought not let ourselves be divvied up so easily into racial categories. Instead, I propose we keep our eyes on the proverbial ball and keep in mind who our enemy really is. I propose that we remember that behind each killing lies one common factor: sin. The skin color of the murderer or the murdered does not matter in the least. Murder is murder. Sin is sin. This has not changed and will never change.

We cannot generalize. We cannot class a people’s behavior by a merely cosmetic difference.  I have friends and loved ones of many colors. Because we who are in Christ are God’s children, I even have brothers and sisters of many colors.

Imagine, for a moment, a world in which people with blue eyes were considered to be sinister in intention simply because of the stark blueness of their eyes. Ridiculous, but no less ridiculous than being divided over skin color. Please see this.

Even if you read these words and you do not know my Lord (who, by the way, was also not a white man but a Jew), I urge you to consider Him. I implore you to get to know Him through the Bible and through honest and sincere prayer that seeks to find the truth in a world teeming with lies. I encourage you to put into practice His words; such actions as loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you, dying to yourself and living for Christ, obeying God no matter the personal cost. But even if you will not listen to God, at least listen to one of His servants and my brother in Christ, Martin Luther King, Jr.:

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. . .

. . . I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I implore you all –brothers, sisters, or non-relatives; black, white, brown, or whatever you may be: Do not judge anyone by the color of their skin nor by their nationality  but solely by the content of their character.

In my youth, I was once protected from a white rapist by a black man who frequently acted as a sort of big brother to me.  Indeed, this man of different skin saved my skin more than once from white guys with unsavory motives. Their skin color did not matter, but their character did. Back then, I did not understand who my enemy was, but I knew enough to realize that it wasn’t a person with a differently colored epidermis.

Today, I enjoy sitting at the table of brotherhood with fellow humans who happen to have a variety of colors of skin, eyes, and hair; who are of different heights and weights; who have different backgrounds and different family upbringings; even who attend different denominations. We do not all always agree,  but we can still love each other. We can still find what we share in Christ, and that is His undeserved forgiveness and love.

I am begging you no matter what your skin color, if you are in Christ, remember that we are one body in Him and individually members of one another. Let’s rally around the cross, not divide up over incidents sparked by sin and lawlessness. Let’s not even look too hard upon the sins of others but remember to feel shock and grief over our own sins most of all.

Most of all, let’s remember who the enemy is and resolve to stand firm against his schemes together. Your brothers with various flesh tones are not your enemy. Our enemy is the prince of this world, the one called Accuser. Do not listen to his accusations against our brethren.

Now more than ever the world needs to see Christians coming together in Christ regardless of external differences. Now more than ever, the world needs to see the love and forgiveness of God acted out and spoken out in the real, day-to-day lives of His children. Now more than ever, the world needs to see us humbly addressing our own sin with repentance instead of angrily addressing the sins of others and assigning blame. Now more than ever, the world needs to see that God is real by genuine acts of love and forgiveness, of unity in Christ and in His purpose, and by the ways God’s children refuse to be distracted from the real struggle.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
(Eph 6:11-13, NASB)

Remember, brothers and sisters, remember who the enemy is. Don’t let your love grow cold. Stand together. Resist evil. Rejoice together; grieve together. Share each others’ burdens. And always, always remember that we are to forgive as we have been forgiven and love one another.

By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 

(1Jn 4:17-21)