Racial Healing: Lord, Let it Begin With Me (Acts 17:26)
Updated: Jul 25, 2020
America is a divided nation and the dividing line is race. Racial tensions have existed since the founding of our country. They will remain just beneath the surface for a while, and then a tragedy like the killing of George Floyd causes them to erupt in a frenzy of demonstrations, riots, looting, arson, and other forms of destruction. This cycle has repeated itself many times over the course of my life. When the responses to pain, anger, and frustration appear to be getting out of control, politicians try to ease the tensions by applying band-aids instead of pointing all Americans of every race to the only solution there is to what divides us. That solution is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
When God created the earth, he created just one race—the human race. All members of that race are equal in his eyes. This is the message in Acts 17:26 where we read: “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth…” Further, in the Greatest Commandment He admonished all of his children—people of all races—to love Him, and to love each other. Herein lies the only lasting solution to America’s racial divide. We won’t be brought together by defunding the police, tearing down statues, or changing the National Anthem to “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers (although it’s a great song). This is because we don’t have a race problem in America; we have a heart problem. Too many Americans have locked Christ out of their hearts and God’s children of all races are all suffering as a result.
CHRISTIAN LOVE IS THE ONLY ANSWER TO WHAT AILS AMERICA
As has already been stated, when Christ said we should love our neighbors as ourselves, He made no exceptions for color of skin or any of the other factor that divide Americans. He said love your neighbor—period. Showing our neighbors the kind of love Christ spoke of in Matthew 22:39 may be the most difficult thing we, as Christians, are called on to do. After all, by “love” Christ meant putting the needs of others ahead of our own. For many of us, this is not something that comes naturally.
Christian love is not just an emotion; it requires action. It is the acting out in our daily lives of Christ’s admonition in the Second Greatest Commandment. When we display Christian love, we act in ways that show genuine obedience to Christ’s command to love our neighbor as our self. In showing Biblical love to our neighbors, we do not ask whether they can satisfy our needs or if they look, talk, dress, eat, or think like we do. People with Christ in their hearts do not kill defenseless people. Nor do they riot, burn, and loot when such a tragedy happens.
One of the hardest things to grasp as believers is this: we have not really given Christian love until we have given it to the unlovable; those who do not reciprocate in-kind. Biblical love requires that we love our neighbors because, regardless of their race or national origin, Christ commands us to love them. There is a vast difference between tolerating other people because it is the politically-correct thing to do and loving them because it is the Christ-like thing to do.
BIBILICAL CORRECTNESS IS BETTER THAN POLITICAL CORRECTNESS
Obeying Christ’s admonition to love our neighbors as ourselves can be a difficult challenge, even for the most committed Christians. It becomes even more difficult when the people we are called to love express their pent-up anger and frustration in destructive ways. However, loving the unlovable will help you make greater- inroads with diverse people than political correctness ever will. In Ephesians 4: 1-3 we are told to walk in a manner worthy of a follower of Christ and to treat others “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing one another in love…” Obeying the words of these verses will be more effective in promoting positive human relations than will the artificial, legalistic, ever-changing dictates of political correctness.
Even the angriest, most militant people of any race will appreciate Christians who are genuinely compassionate, kind, and caring. They will also appreciate those who set positive examples of sincere acceptance between and among diverse people because they are part of God’s creation. People whose human interactions are guided by sincere Christian love can make diversity an asset for our country rather than a liability. It will take time and it won’t be easy, but Christ’s Word is the truth, and the truth eventually finds its way through the fog of human emotions.
John 16:33 reminds us that we should take courage because Christ has overcome the world. Because of Christ’s victory, His love applied consistently can heal the racial divide that is splitting our country. Political correctness seeks to do this through artifice, pressure, and enforcement. Christian love, on the other hand, does this by changing hearts. Christians who exemplify the heart of Christ in their human relations will be better able to influence their neighbors of all races for good.
The stumbling blocks relating to race are bias, prejudice, stereotyping, labeling, and discrimination, and no race holds a monopoly on these things. Thankfully, Christian love can help people of all races maneuver over, around, or through, these stumbling blocks without tripping. Christ does not want us to limit our Christian love to those who look like us, think like us, and believe like us. Further, different does not mean bad or inferior. It is important to grasp this simple fact because people can be different in so many ways.
This is why it is so important for Christians to internalize the Scriptural imperative contained in 1 John 2:10 where we are told that if we love our brother we abide in the light and have no cause for stumbling. When you consider how diverse our country is and then factor in man’s sinful nature, there will be plenty of opportunities to stumble. The best preventive measure available to people of all races is the kind of Christian love spoken of in 1 John 2:10 and 1 Corinthians 13, not political correctness.
Showing your neighbors true Christian love will do more to pull down the walls of suspicion and hate that divide the races in America than politically-correctness ever will. If you want to help heal the racial divide that is splitting our country, pray this simple prayer: “Lord, please heal our divided nation and let the healing begin with me.”
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Veteran’s Lament: Is This the America We Fought For? and Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press.