John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”
- Luke 3:7-9
“As you enter into another day of praying for those around you, ask God to fill your heart with his love for the people he has placed around you.”
- Dave Clayton, Jesus Next Door
I read Dave Peever’s blog, I Studied Ballet, yesterday morning. It pushed me over an edge. I avoid talking about the subject that is at hand with protests and riots on-going throughout the world.
I was pushed to tears for my friend who writes the Beauty Beyond Bones blog. That got me near the edge when she wrote about an opportunist, at best, but definitely someone with evil intent, making people kneel.
And I take Rev. David Robertson’s liberal leanings with a thought that he may not understand the goal of liberalism in America, since he does not live here, or may not understand the sinful intent of any government that wants to become a single party rule, but this post is among his many writings on the recent protests and riots. He has also written about how someone who does not have a home, but in burning down someone’s home to make them equal, that is not justice.
I could list posts from Julie of Cookie Crumbs to Live By or Kathy of A Time to Share or so many others.
Then I read something forwarded by one of my many sisters-in-law about how this man on social media was arguing that the recent riots are established by well-planned anarchists, stockpiling pallets of bricks and Molotov cocktails at key points in the protest route. His contention that this anarchy was orchestrated for power, not racial equality. Of course, many have written that the protests and riots are two separate things done by two separate groups. The rioters are being opportunists, fomenting a crowd of people who are already angry.
The quoted Bible study by Dave Clayton of Ethos Church in Nashville, Tennessee seemed to solidify what I needed to write.
But Rev. Peever’s words feature the concept of intent. The author of Beauty Beyond Bones echoes the same feelings when she was forced to kneel to “prove” that she was not a racist. She was being subjected to abuse. What choice did she have at that moment, and to find out that the man was posting his video online so that he could tell the world of the power he had over others, and he could laugh. Maybe the unknown social media essay was right. It is all about power.
Rev. Peever stayed on the subject of language. I am of the generation who was taught to call a black person a “negro” in order to show respect, avoiding the derogatory “N” word. If I had not been taught that “negro” was not the right word, I might make a mistake in calling someone by that word. I would mean it as a word of respect, but it would not be taken as such. Rev. Peever goes on to suggest a word other than ‘white privilege’ as that is used in a derogatory manner, when the white person never asked for the privilege nor did they ask to be born white.
The author of Beauty Beyond Bones was told if she did not kneel immediately, without hesitation, she was a racist. I listened to a discussion between Ravi Zacharias and R. C. Sproul who discussed the issue that liberals place unrealistic demands attached to statements that may or may not be truthful. They then place a derogatory label upon you because their ridiculous demands are not met in a timely manner – thus, a totally irrational argument leaves you branded.
How can this be? Do they really do this? Yes, they do.
My great-great-grandfather owned slaves. He was a poor farmer. He and his children worked in the fields with his slaves. The slaves of the rich man on the other side of the creek called my great-grandfather and his father “poor white trash,” because he was not rich enough to sit on the front porch and watch his slaves do the work. My great-grandfather was “poor white trash” in the definition for that term of that day – changing definitions a few times since. My great-grandfather, in his memoires, tells of spending the rest of his life after the War of the early 1860s in the USA trying to find his “brother,” the black slave who had run from Yankee raiders, never to be seen again. Did you catch that? The slave, born within a year of when he was born, was his “brother,” devoting his free time to affect a reunion that never happened.
But some would call me a racist, because I have ‘slave owner blood’ coursing through my veins. This is utterly ridiculous. If it were so, then never sing Amazing Grace again because the composer once captained a slave ship.
I could use the irrational, mean-spirited argument of some people out there and say that in watching that video without breaking down in tears, you are a racist or you are going to Hell. No, we each have the things in life that cause us to be touched by God’s Spirit. This video, and especially this hymn, are among mine.
The Scripture above is a small capsule of the message delivered by John the Baptist, but it is a warning for each and every one of us. We need to repent. If we do not repent, God can create children of Abraham from the very rocks beneath our feet. John was hinting that the Jews would not have exclusivity with Jesus, but the Gentile, those rocks, would be allowed to worship God and be called children of God. Yes, most of us believers, of any color, are “rocks.” And we are rocks saved by the blood of the Lamb, nothing more regardless of color. Hallelujah!!
Folks, some would call me a racist, just because I am white. I was born white, and I had no say-so about it. I have never felt privileged. I have been told years ago that I would advance in the company if I were a black woman with a Spanish surname, otherwise, forget a promotion, and sometimes even pay increases. Now that is privilege due to an accident of birth, if you will.
Some would call me a racist because I was born in Mississippi, lived there until a month before my 22nd birthday, and graduated from a university that, at the time, waved rebel battle flags at every ballgame. None of those things make me a racist. I am proud of my heritage, but then again, it is the only heritage that I know.
One of my best friends at the church that I presently attend, if you can call watching it on the computer “attending” … Okay, one of my best friends is a black woman from Mississippi. She probably had a harder upbringing than I did. She might have had to kick and scratch for what came easier for me, but she became well-educated. She has well-educated children. And she is a respected member of the community and our church.
But the two of us know each other, because we both came from Mississippi. We can relate in a way that others in our church cannot relate to either of us. We both have relatives who still live in Mississippi, and we love those relatives with all the fiber in our bodies. We can bring up the ills of our place of birth, because we both earned it, but she would agree with me that we’d fight any of the yahoos who talk of such things that are not from there (or maybe simply turn our back on them). They haven’t earned it.
As proof of our “kinship,” we were both on the Mississippi Gulf Coast working on Katrina Relief, back almost 15 years ago. Each group of workers took turns providing a cook and serving food to everyone else. We were there from the Pittsburgh area and oddly another group was there from Philadelphia. When the Philadelphia crew served the meal, a woman asked if I wanted some bacon that she was serving. I said, “Yes, Ma’am.” The woman was offended, and let me know that she was not a “Ma’am!” I feared, in a church-led disaster relief campground, that I was about to get hot, sizzling bacon thrown in my face. My friend was behind me in line. She leaned across the serving line and told the woman, “He and I grew up down here in this state. My friend here has just shown you the respect that he was taught to give. Now, when you go out to help folks down here, understand that they might have been taught a little different than you were.” (An example of what Rev. Peever said in his post.)
And if my friend is reading this, when they lift the restrictions of social distancing, I have missed our hugs.
Are we not all made in God’s image, regardless of color, national origin, or political leanings?
Let’s do as John the Baptist said in the Scripture above. Let us repent. Turn to Jesus. Let all other arguments cease, because God loves us, and He sent His Son into the world to die for us so that we might live. And Jesus proved that victory over death by rising from the dead on Easter Sunday.
It’s either that or get chopped off at the ankles and thrown into the fire.
I choose to love my neighbor.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.