Racism and the Gospel

          After watching and reading what occurred in Charlottesville, VA on August 12th, it reminded me of the fallen nature of man and the importance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was disgusting and evil. Period. The men carrying Tiki torches at night were drawing on the historical images of the KKK solely to instill fear. If their motive was not fear then why at night with torches? Heritage? What southern heritage carries torches at night? If the protest about the removal of a statue was to be peaceful then why bring the shields, gloves, helmets, and sticks? The obvious answer is that this group came prepared for conflict. And why the show of force with open carry arms? I am a supporter of our Second Amendment and have a concealed carry license, but there is a difference in being discreet so to not alarm others and trying to make a point through intimidation. Yes, intimidation. There were men with primary and secondary systems carried in the ready, as a show of force against your fellow Americans, wearing tactical helmets and kit with magazines positioned for economy-of-motion tactical reloads. What were you expecting? What were you trying to prove? Do you view fellow Americans as enemy combatants? As a responsible gun owner and combat Veteran I was repulsed by your arrogance and provocative posture.
          Then there was the plethora of Nazi flags, white supremacist logos, and KKK members in full regalia…nothing but disgusting and evil. And yes, I understand that our First Amendment protects free speech and the right to assemble peaceably, but you came looking for a fight and not discourse. You came to Charlottesville packing helmets, shields, gloves, sticks, and weapons. Which your ideologies are the same as the other hate groups. Sadly, our nation is becoming so divisive that civil discourse with those we disagree with is becoming rare. It is as if our school systems replaced debate classes with octagons, screaming matches, and classes on intimidation tactics, techniques, and procedures. But let us not blame the schools or start pointing fingers at others in an attempt to displace or confuse the true root cause of the problem that occurred in Charlottesville this month. Becuase it was a choice to show up at night and take up Tiki torches with racially charged chanting. It was a choice to show up with helmets, shields, gloves, sticks, Nazi flags, KKK outfits, and weapons. What was really on display in Charlottesville was not a protest over the removal of a statute, although many will use the situation as a catalyst for their agenda, but what was really on display was the fallen condition of man’s heart.
          Biblically, we seen this principle being taught in Matthew 15 when the followers of Jesus Christ were challenged by a group of Pharisees and Scribes on why they did not follow along with the traditions established by their forefathers (Mt 15:1-2). To the Pharisees and Scribes, the followers of Jesus, whom they saw as a trouble maker anyway, were breaking religious requirements established during the second temple period. Besides control, there was also fear of experiencing another judgment if the people once again abandoned God. So the followers of Jesus were seen as being rebellious while the Lord saw the religious leaders as the ones breaking the commandments of God (Mt 15:3). The Lord’s teaching at this moment is important because the implications here not only touch on the topic of food and ceremonial laws, but express the condition of man’s heart and his response to God. Which the Lord responded that it was not what one puts in their mouth that defiles them, but what comes out of one’s mouth that defiles them (Mt 15:10-11). For what comes out of one’s mouth comes from their heart that exposes who they are in their core nature…who they really are (Mt 15:18). The Lord continued teaching that what comes out of one’s mouth is what truly defiles a person (Mt 15:18). Which the word defile comes from the Greek word κοινόω (koinoo) that has a sense of making something unacceptable to God. Thus the English word defile carries a perfect meaning and used in this pericope by the KJV, ESV, NASB, and NIV translation committees. It is what comes out of one’s mouth that exposes a man’s heart (Mt 15:18) that is unacceptable before God.
          But the Lord did not leave his teaching without an explanation. The Lord provided several unquestionable actions that defile a person. And those actions includes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, and slander (Mt 15:19). Read them again…evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, and slander. And while it is not within the scope of this article to further discuss each action, which can be traced throughout Scripture depicting how depraved man’s heart can be. Yet, ask yourself how many of those actions were present in Charlottesville? Evil thoughts, murder, false witness, and slander are the obvious ones. The evil of racism we saw in Charlottesville was not because of some statue, but what was already present in their hearts. The removal of the statue provided an opportunity to express what was already smoldering beneath the surface (Jas 1:14-15).
          And then to see a KKK member displaying a cross on the top of his hood was absolutely disgusting as it presents a heretical view of the Gospel. Many have already written on this and why I won’t go into further details here, but every follower of Jesus Christ should speak out about this. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News for every person of every tribe, of every language, and of every nation (Rv 5:9-10). Racism denies this teaching. The police can put up all the barricades they want, but when someone’s heart is bent this far to hate another based on skin color or nationality there is no solution. History teaches us that. While many live peacefully with their neighbors, the only true remedy is the Gospel.
          But before you go sliding Bible verses in your Gospel six-shooter for the next racist just remember that many remain in the snare of the Devil to do his will (2 Tm 2:24-26). Which all of us are sinners who deserve the wrath of God for all of eternity. But praise the Lord for His amazing grace by which we are saved (Eph 2:1-9). We should be amazed that God would even want to rescue a single person because we are all unacceptable….worthless before God (Rom 3:9-18). And through the subsitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ can we be reconciled back to God (2 Cor 5:19-21). How amazing! Through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ our lives are transformed from being a child of wrath to a child of God. From evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, and slander are now forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ. One no longer stands condemned before God, but embraced as an adopted child covered in an imputed rightousness (2 Cor 5:21). As the Apostle Paul wrote, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11-12, ESV). The gift of eternal life as one now born-again (Jn 3:3) with the Holy Spirit of God now abiding in us (Jn 14:17). Not because of anything good in us, but because of how good our God is! It is through this knowledge of the Gospel and the mighty work of God in salvation that the followers of Jesus Christ strive to put off the ways of the old nature and live as a child of God and at peace with each other (Eph 4:17-5:21; Col 3:1-17; 1 Thes 4:3-8). Christians are no longer identified by the ways of the world, but by Jesus Christ (Col 2:6-7).
          The only way to defeat the evil of racism is through the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. For only the LORD God can remove that old heart and create a new heart in a person (Ez 36:26-27). A new heart that loves God and all that He gave to man…His Only Son Jesus Christ, His Spirit, His word, creation, marriage, family, and society. Racism is antithetical to the Gospel because racism seeks to oppress others and destroy society that Jesus Christ died for in order to restore in this age. Therefore racism should have no place among the followers of Jesus Christ in this age as racism will have no place in the age to come.