It seems the incessant noise about race relations in America is becoming more deafening with each passing day. The topic has become so ubiquitous it’s as if the very word ‘racism’ is the last one you hear before going to bed each night, and the first one you wake up to in the morning.
Imagine, if you will…
[Queue transition music]
“Ahhh, good morning, sweetheart! You’re looking lovely today! How’s the weather?”
“Hmm…it’s looking a bit racist out there today, dear. You might wanna take an umbrella.”
You may not have noticed but everything is racist now.
As far as I’m concerned, this whole obsession with racism is rooted in people not wanting to get their feelings hurt.
Think about it.
To even be told “no” is now perceived as a gross violation of one’s self-defined and self-proclaimed “rights.”
Violate my rights, as I define them of course, and you automatically get the raised clenched fist (the universal sign of resistance), followed by a coordinated social media blitz complete with a custom hashtag calling for a boycott of your place of employment, with the ultimate goal of costing you your job and livelihood so that you and your privileged family experience the pain of “my” 400-plus years of struggle (even though I may be only 24 years old).
Just look around and it becomes evident fairly quickly that if you just make enough noise, disrupt enough traffic, break enough windows, or set enough police cars ablaze–and do those things for a long enough period of time–you will inevitably get what you want (if not more).
Our culture is such that to be denied or refused anything at all is tantamount to being involved in “The Struggle”.
In case you’re unfamiliar, the struggle is a term commonly used to refer to the everyday socioeconomic challenges of black Americans, particularly as it concerns “inequities” that exist relative to housing, employment, and educational opportunities as compared to whites (because, as we all know, every white person in America owns their own home, earns a six-figure income, and sends their children to private school).
But, I digress…
I think Booker T. Washington was onto something in declaring that,
There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs–partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs. – My Larger Education, p. 118
Washington’s words point to an unfortunate reality that people today refuse to acknowledge: that there are those whose seemingly genuine protestations about racism are only a means to making a living under the pretense of making change.
For some, racism is as much an opportunity to be taken advantage of as a mentality to be altered. This can be a difficult thing to accept because in today’s politically correct society, speaking out against racism is considered a most virtuous endeavor.
And who doesn’t want to see racism end?
But, here’s the thing, I also want to see abortion end.
And….well, you get the point.
What we fail to understand is that the Gospel is far more confrontational than even the most massive protest or demonstration, because it challenges us to respond in a manner that is totally contrary to our nature.
There is an allure to racism that entices us in ways that feed our ego and endows us with a false sense of our own significance (Genesis 3:5). This is because we tend to view racism as an external problem needing a man-centered solution as opposed to a spiritual condition requiring a God-sent Savior.
We treat racism as if we were eating caviar in that we deal with it by breaking out the “good” plates and utensils.
We have our race summits and our ecumenical round tables and our nationally televised “conversations” about race, where the same old talking heads regurgitate the same old solutions, convinced that the remedy to racism is found in ourselves and our pithy social media hashtags and monikers.
Why we apply this special approach to racism, as if it were unique from all other human transgressions, I do not know. One would think that the aforementioned offenses are equally detrimental to our society as to warrant their own distinct “conversations”, right?
Then again, maybe not.
I’m convinced that the reason we choose to not talk about racism in theological terms, that is, as it being a matter of our own personal sin, is because incorporating the Gospel into the discussion isn’t as exciting or self-exalting as leading a protest march or being recognized by MSNBC as the leader of a new social justice “movement.”
What we fail to understand, however, is that the Gospel is far more confrontational than the most massive protests or demonstrations could ever be, because it challenges us to respond in a manner that is totally contrary to our nature.
What could possibly be more confrontational than to be presented with the truth about who we truly are?
The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. – Soren Kierkegaard
You see, anyone can throw a brick through a window, set a car on fire, or start a petition calling for someone to be fired, but not everyone is capable of living out the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:44: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
We don’t want racism to end.
We say that we do, but we don’t.
Because exemplifying the nature of Christ isn’t quite as rewarding as exemplifying who we really are (John 8:44).
Besides, why rely on the Gospel to change a person’s heart when I can do it by force?