Wednesday, July 17, 2013

We Must Overcome Racism

The Zimmerman/Martin trial sure has stirred things up! Can I find a news channel that's not devoting all their time to it? I've never seen so many commentators in action in all my life! And I don't think the coverage is going to end too soon. 

For me, I actually thought Zimmerman was going to get at least a manslaughter charge, regardless if Martin was white or black. However, I was once on a jury, and I know that they have heard a lot more of the story than I have. It seems like the jury wanted to charge Zimmerman with something, but couldn't do it because the verdict had to be within the context of the existing law as it applies to self defense. 

I don't know all the facts. Did Zimmerman really fear for his life - maybe thinking that Martin was going to grab his own gun and shoot him with it? Or did Zimmerman pull his gun in anger simply to win the fight? Only George Zimmerman knows! So this brings up all kinds of issues: gun control, racial profiling, and Florida's self-defense laws.  

Regardless of what you think as far as the verdict, or if racism was a factor in this killing or not, one thing is for sure - the subject of racism has been brought to the forefront. No doubt about that. It's almost like the topic was ready to ignite, and this trial was the spark.

And it brings up the question - does racism still really exist in our country in 2013? The answer is yes! Unfortunately, racism has always existed, currently exists, and probably always will to one extent or the other. It's been going on and on for centuries and centuries. Racism is a prejudice-based view that one race is inherently superior to another. The classic example is the Nazis vs. the Jews. In Hitler's view, the Jews were an inferior race who needed to be eradicated. 

There are so many other examples of racism throughout the ages. In Bible days, it was the Jews vs. the Gentiles, or the Pharisees vs. the Sadducees. Remember the massacres in Rwanda, Africa in the 1990's? It was the Tutsis vs. the Hutus, and thousands were slaughtered. In our country, ever since slavery was abolished, we are still trying to get rid of discrimination and prejudice between black and white. 

So if racism still exists, and it does, how can we work to reduce it? By demonstrations? By arguments and debates? Does that bring everyone closer? Some say we need more education about it, and better laws that give equal rights and opportunities. That's all good, but maybe what we really need to look at is the root cause of racism. What is the underlying factor? What drives it? I believe the root cause of racism is the inherent sinful, selfish nature of mankind. By default, everyone leans toward being prejudice.

If racism is here to stay, can we at least reduce the extent of it? Can we work to overcome it ourselves and help others overcome it? The answer is YES! But we can't overcome racism strictly by forcing people to comply - in other words, strictly by laws regarding civil rights, desegregation, and the like. That's not the real way to overcome it.

The real way to overcome racism involves the heart. That's right - it has to be a personal matter - an individual matter - a matter of the heart. There has to be a transformation in the way you think and act regarding other people. Hate needs to be removed, especially hating others based on selfish motivations, or pride, or race, or for that matter, anything.

Through Christ, this transformation on how we think of others happens. When we become Christ followers, and become obedient to His teachings, we try to be more like Him, We want to think and act like He teaches us to. And you better believe it, Christ knows all about this hate deal - He experienced it Himself! 

If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’ (John 15:24-25)

An important truth to remember is that God shows no prejudice, no partiality, no favoritism to any race, or any person. All are equal in His eyes. He wants all to come to repentance, and to be one of His children. His love for all was demonstrated by the cross of Jesus.

Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right. (Acts 10:34-35)

Here's the key verse for me: "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer." (2 Corinthians 5:16)

Notice the phrase "worldly point of view". Racism, discrimination, hate, jealously, condemnation, etc, is how we look at others from a worldly point of view. But the opposite of a 'worldly' point of view is a 'Godly' point of view. We need to look at people as God looks at people. We are not better than any other person in God's eyes, regardless if we have more money, nicer clothes, a better job, or better health, or whatever we think elevates us above someone else.

So, no matter who tries to persuade you otherwise, as a Christian, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  (Romans 12:2) 

If transformational thinking, through Christ, can overcome racism, then we, as individual Christians, have an obligation to do our part in helping to transform others by sharing the Gospel message, and thereby offering a new life, a new way, a new mindset, a new heart to people, who will then see other races in a different light. As Christians, when we get the opportunity, let's voice our opinion on how people should look upon each other. We can start by setting the example in our own words and actions. 

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