What the World Needs Now – Reflections on Racism, Violence, and Hatred in AmericaOur Broken World
Acts 10:25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.” 27 As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.” … 34 Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, 35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.”
I am heartbroken over the horrible death of George Floyd this past week in Minneapolis. It crushes my spirit to see repeatedly the video of a policeman’s knee pushing on his neck as he died, while others stood by and watched. It disturbs me greatly that the policeman was white and that he showed no visible concern or emotion. Racism, brutality, and violence are evil, wicked, and sinful. I am sickened by the attitudes, words, and actions that led – directly or indirectly – to this awful incident and loss of life of a precious human being, created in the image of God.
I don’t want to stand by silently and watch! With this on my mind, I had planned in advance to express my (and our) grief and sorrow as part of the Sunday morning sermon on May 31. I was then going to offer prayer. However, the elder who opened the service was thinking the same way, and his remarks and prayer stated more or less exactly what I had in mind, in such a fine way. It seemed very appropriate to me, especially coming from one of our pastors.
Because of that, I felt that my remarks would have been repetitious, and I chose not to do as I had intended. Today, however, I wish I had gone ahead! Though the sermon did address many of the factors involved in our sick, violent, racist world, I regret that I did not make specific reference to this most recent and graphic example.
For example, we talked in the sermon about Col 3:1-17. We noted Col 3:8: “But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.” We could have gone on to read Col 3:11: “… a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.” Think of the healing that our fractured, tense, and frightening nation would experience as the result of people recognizing and practicing the truths just in these two verses from the Word of God!
Name every factor you can think of that’s related to this heart-wrenching moment. Everything that led to it, everything that was part of it, and everything that has come from it. Hatred. Anger. Prejudice. Racism. Violence. Looting. Burning. Screaming.
The cause of each evil element in all this is the same: the lack of the truth of God, the love of God, and the mercy of God in Jesus Christ.
The solution to each evil element is the same: the presence of the truth of God, the love of God, and the mercy of God in Jesus Christ.
And the essential players who must demonstrate the presence of God, the truth of God, the love of God, and the mercy of God are … Christ-like people.
The apostle Peter knew that he himself was just a man, deserving of no reverence of adoration just because he was a Jew or even an apostle. He learned – slowly, to be honest – that he must not call any man – even a Gentile! – unholy or unclean. Because God does not show partiality, neither could he, and neither must we.
Church, the time is now. We must speak up, stand up, and show up. We must reject and repent of our own attitudes, words, and deeds, to the extent that they have not reflected the heart of the Father. It’s time to listen, to empathize, to reconcile, and most of all, to show the world the love of Jesus Christ.
Think of how delightful the world would be if, starting with you and me, people took the following words to heart and put them into practice:
Jas 2:1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. Jas 2:9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. Jas 2:12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
Jas 3:8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
1 Co 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails …
Ga 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Tit 3:1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
As in the words of Jackie DeShannon’s hit song from years ago, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No, not just for some, but for everyone.”
More specifically, what the world needs now is love as defined and exhibited by Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, let’s show the world, and teach the world, the love of the Lord!
1 Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.