As I watch these race riots work themselves out all over the country, I wonder why people are so mad. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to know that something is askew. But what? How have so many Americans allowed themselves to become so embittered against one another.
I live in the South, and so I am well acquainted with the racial tensions of our part of the world. But I find it interesting that much of protest and unrest occur far away from the Mason-Dixon line. So the conflict of the races is not just a southern thing. It’s a people thing. We continue as a race (human race) to struggle to love one another. The greatest of the commandments is to love God, the second is to love others as we love ourselves. Our real problem is rooted in the application of these two commandments.
Disclaimer: I am a white male. Have been ever since I was born. Born in Dallas Texas the year before JFK was shot. Less than two years before the Civil Right Act of 1964 was signed. When all the civil rights activities were going on I was oblivious, just a kid. It was much later before I realized that our country was engaged a new fight for freedom and equality. As a Christian I don’t think the Scripture looks at us as different races but brothers and sister under the leadership of our Heavenly Father. Co-heirs together with Christ. Someday we will all stand before the throne of God and worship Him together. In the meantime we need to learn to love one another.
But this article is not about race relations. I will leave that to people much smarter than me. I am not in any way attempting to undercut the pain that minorities have suffered. Or the challenges that they currently face. Or to attempt to suggest a fix for the complex world of racism. That would certainly require much more than 800 words I am trying to limit this post to. But I do think there is a Biblical solution to this problem. FORGIVENESS.
I have been working through a parable that Jesus shared with Peter after he asked a question about forgiveness. Peter asks, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Bible scholars say that in those days the Jews were taught from the Rabbis that they should forgive the offender 3 times. So, Peter doubles the number and adds one for good measure before approaching Jesus. I am sure that he was shocked to hear Jesus response.
Disclaimer: In the process of reconciliation (I am talking just person to person reconciliation) there are two sides of the equation: 1) repentance and a good apology 2) a forgiving heart that desires to be reconciled. Both are necessary to bring about actual change in a relationship. I know this works on a person to person basis, but it is more complex when you try to have groups reconcile with one another.
Check out this passage that describes their exchange and ask yourself. What would happen if forgiveness ruled the day in America? Leave a comment below.
Matthew 18:21-35 (NASB)
21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves.
24 “When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him.
25 “But since he adid not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made.
26 “So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’
27 “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’
29 “So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’
30 “But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed.
31 “So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.
32 “Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.
33 ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’
34 “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.
35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”