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So, which one are you, reactive or reflective? You are one or the other, even if you’re not a racist. It does not matter the color of your skin or who is the target of your lashing out. There are times when you have said unkind things to those with whom you struggle. Perhaps, it was not a racial slur. Everyone is not racist. But you have reacted sinfully toward people; we all have. The question for you to examine is whether you have hatred in your heart toward anyone. According to the “reactive and reflective construct,” you have one or the other.
Because we are fallen humans—we’re not perfect and never will be on this side of heaven—there will be moments of anger that you will unleash on someone. These are episodes or reactive moments, but they are not how someone would characterize you. It’s not a pattern. It’s not your habit. On occasion, you “let someone have it.” One of the most common places where you will see this kind of sinful anger is on social media. Folks tend to have less of a social filter on these platforms.
It’s called the dis-inhibition effect. Folks are not as inhibited when they see something that bothers them on those platforms, so they lash out with a “quick-trigger” comment. If you do this regularly, it’s not reflective but reactive: you’re an angry person. You must find help if you’re consistently venting on social media or in your real world.
There is another kind of person who hates all the time. It could be whites hating blacks, blacks hating whites, whites and blacks hating Jews, and so forth. This kind of hate can be spontaneous, of course, but the root of it is reflective. It’s the person who brews over the people they hate and may react to them spontaneously (reactive) or plot against them (reflective).
They could be like my daddy who was ignorant and without God. Somehow he believed that blacks were inferior, so he adopted the attitude of a bigot. Many black people have come from a similar kind of upbringing. They accept what others tell them and carry the burden of hate and racism in their souls.
Reflective racism does not discriminate. Anyone can be this way. It’s not as though one people group represents all the racists in the world. To hate someone is innate with all humans. You want to examine where you are on the “hate-to-love spectrum.” You are either growing in more hate or more love.
This discussion is vital because there is a racism revival in our country; you cannot escape from all the noise. I’m not saying that racism is worse now; it’s not. America has come farther than any other country in abolishing racism. We are the number one destination for black people around the world. They want to live here. They are not dumb people: they know this is a place for freedom.
They don’t desire to be here because we’re a racist country. These folks know that we’re a better place to live than any other. But all of our progress in stamping out racism does not mean it has vanished. It won’t go away until Jesus returns to give us a makeover, but we can continue to address the problem with racism. You can do that by answering a few questions about where you are on the “hate-to-love spectrum.”
I cannot tell you where you are on the “hate-to-love spectrum.” Nobody should label you. It’s your responsibility to identify yourself, and if you need to change something, do it. There is a lot of gaslighting happening in our country, and you must not bow to that kind of manipulation and pressure. If you’re a racist, admit it. If you’re not sure, ask someone who knows you well. Don’t accept the accusations of those who don’t know you but are yelling at you, telling you what you are.
Each person needs to address this issue on a personal and close community level, not in the mainstream media. You can have a civil discussion about your attitude toward others with those who know you. Will you do that? Here are the five questions to ponder:
Racial problems are complicated, and they won’t change anytime soon. Though there will never be perfect harmony in a sin-cursed world, we can get back to making progress. My appeal to you is to think less globally about the problem and more personally focused. It’s easy to be swept away with the issues you see in the media. It’s wiser to step away from that noise and focus on what you can change. —Rick Thomas, from this article.
I have paraphrased these questions from our community to flatten them.
Abusive Church Member
I have read your article on spiritual abuse. Thank you. What would you say to the person who is the pastor, and it’s the church member abusing him? We have spent a lot of time working with this person to find out how we have offended them. This person has been gossiping about the pastor and trying to divide the church. The leaders have approached this person several times. The primary issue is that this person, and the recruits, do not like our pastor’s theology and preaching style. Several folks are aware of the accusations, and none agree with this person’s assessment of the pastor.
Leaving Sovereign Grace
We are thankful for your article, “An Appeal from a Former Sovereign Grace Ministry Pastor.” You marry mercy and justice so well. We have recently left our SGC church after many years; God has opened our eyes. This article spoke to the issues so well, and you honored the Lord in how you wrote it. We hope to have closure soon.
Not Sure If
I have read your article on forgiveness. I wanted to say thank you. This article will help me down the path of confession. My problem is that I’m afraid of going forward. Though I want to do right, I’m not sure my heart is in it. What would you say to me?
Dating Before Divorce
I’m in the process of divorce, but it’s not happening for a while. I do have someone I’m dating and wonder what you would say to that, and what I could learn from this ordeal.
If you have a question that you’d like me to answer on this podcast, you can send it through the contact link in the footer of our site. Please keep your question brief. Perhaps it would be something that could benefit you and serve our listeners.
Rick launched this training network in 2008 to provide life-changing resources that equip Christians to help others. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology, and in 1991 he received a BS in Education. In 1993 he was ordained into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).