For most of us, this Forth of July/Independence Day brings a weekend of fun. It’s a time of vacations and family gatherings; cookout and campfires; parades and possibly a cemetery visit. We head to the beaches and pools; zoos and state parks; plus, once it turns dark, we get out our lawn chairs and watch the red, white and blue fireworks. Life in America is grand – for most of us. But we must also remember the congregation in Charleston, South Carolina, at the Mother Emanuel Church where a white racist murdered nine black worshippers.
Our news media is biased. There is no doubt about it. The media loves to stir up controversy because controversy sells. Charleston, however, is different. A white 21-year-old supremacist walked into a black congregation and killed nine black people. That is the hard fact. People died in a merciless act of violence.
If the authors of our Declaration of Independence could see this, they would certainly not only be outraged but also shed tears over such senseless murders. Many of our country’s founders died for “Liberty and justice for all. ”Abraham Lincoln and all the men who died in the civil war would hold their heads in disbelief. Hadn’t they freed the black people? And after 150 years, wouldn’t America’s attitude toward race have changed? We went through two world wars where black men and white men fought side-by-side. Blacks as well as whites fought and died for the freedoms that we enjoy today.
All of us know that the Charleston act of violence is not the thinking or belief of most Americans, but it happened. It happened to nine innocent people. But how often does racism still happen each day? Not with the result as in the Charleston case but with racial slurs and in acts of prejudices that block equality in all colors of people and in both genders. We are not talking about today’s perversion of someone choosing to be different, but we are talking prejudices against people whom God created.
The Apostle Paul writes,
26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV)
Another of Paul’s writings,
19 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NIV)
Paul tried to become all things to all people. He could not become a different color, but he related to people where they were; to become like them as much as possible.
While we may say that we would never be racist, how many people still remember Archie Bunker from All in the Family? White America laughed at the show, but Archie Bunker did not represent God’s Word. Archie Bunker was a racist. Let’s not have any thread of racism in us.
Love is the key that Christ teaches. Love does not contain racism. Christ died for all of us; for all colors of people. Let’s be careful with our thoughts and with our actions. Let’s pray for the victims and families of Charleston. Let’s pray for forgiveness of our country. And may each of us represent Christ to others in our country, the land of the free.