How then shall we act?
June 17, 2020
BY PASTOR BOB
How then shall we act?
By Pastor Bob
On May 25, 2020 George Floyd, an African-American died by the senseless act of a police officer, a man who had sworn to serve and protect all the citizens under his jurisdiction. Instead he, along with three other officers failed in their duty and watched him die without heeding his cries for help. Indeed, this one act (or lack of action), resulted in untold anguish for his family and worldwide cries for retaliation against the police officers involved and the entire judicial system in America. And it appears that this isn’t an isolated case of an African-American dying recently.
Ahmaud Arbery, another African-American was gunned down by two white men in Georgia in what appears to be a racially motivated killing. Arbery was jogging through a neighborhood when he was stopped by two men who then attacked him. During the struggle he was shot three times. Another man, who was following recorded the event on his cellphone. This man also blocked Arbery with his car to keep him from getting away, and at one point hit him with his car hard enough to dent his fender. As he lay dying, he was called a racial slur, seemingly proving that this killing was racially motivated. It took almost three months for the three men to be arrested and charged with murder.
These are certainly not the only incidents where African-Americans were persecuted because they were a different color. Indeed oppression started as far back in America as 1619 when slaves were brought in to help the colonists to clear land and plant crops. In the 18th century alone 6 to 7 million were brought to the New World where they were exploited for their cheap labor. In total, it has been estimated that between 15 to 20 million slaves were transported across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa and purchased from slave traders throughout Europe and the European colonies.
Slavery was still a problem when in 1862 the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by Abraham Lincoln which freed the slaves. The South rebelled against the Proclamation , which set the stage for the Civil War in which 750,000 people were killed. After the war, and the slaves were officially “free”, they could not enjoy their freedom. Even though they were “free”, they still suffered persecution because of the “Jim Crow” laws which denied the African-Americans the right to jobs, the right to vote, and the right to live where they wanted. These laws were in effect until 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act which legally ended the segregation of African-Americans.
There are many, many other instances where African-Americans have been discriminated against, that are too numerous to count and they have legitimate reasons to protest this treatment. After all, they are humans too. But, we need to ask, why this discrimination, why this “looking down upon”, this particular people group? Why do we as humans look down on any people group, indeed any person at all? What causes us to discriminate? What causes anyone to think they are better than someone else?
These are tough questions, but I believe there is a place to look for answers to these questions, namely the Bible. From the very beginning of mankind there has been strife between people and people groups. But where did this strife come from? What would cause one man to look down on another man? Indeed, the very first murder mentioned in the Bible was committed when the older brother killed his younger brother. Why? Because of jealousy. But where did this emotion of jealousy even come from? The Bible states that every person was born with sin already in them. Well, what is sin? The definition put forth in 1 John chapter 3 states that sin is lawlessness. Lawlessness against whom? The answer is of course God. But where did this sin come from? It came through disobedience, from disobeying God. Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Because of this, every person born since then has sin already in them.
So, you see from birth we are already at a disadvantage. Because of the sin that is already in us, we automatically take the low road, we automatically sin. We sin by instinct, it’s part of who we are and it’s what causes us to think we are better than others, to look down on people or people groups.
But what can we do about it, what can we do to stop this automatic sin, this instinctive sin, this sin of the flesh? This sin of the flesh, or following our baser instincts, is an automatic response. But how can we stop this, how can we get rid of it? How do we get from point a to point b, point b being following the Spirit instead of following the flesh, which is what we want to do because of our lusts? The Bible states there is only one way: we must be forgiven. But by whom? By God through His son Jesus. When we are forgiven the Spirit gradually changes what we deem important, what our flesh wants. The sin of our flesh is what causes us to look down on other people, to oppress them. But if we ask forgiveness from the only One who can forgive, the only One who can cleanse us, then and only then can we move past what our flesh desires to what the Spirit desires.
What the Spirit desires is the exact opposite of what our flesh desires. Our flesh wants only what makes us feel better about ourselves, whereas what the Spirit desires is to change us so that we put the other person first. If this was every person’s desire, then the oppression of others would not happen. There would be no more George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery deaths, or the repercussions from this, ever!
We who are followers of Jesus the Messiah have a responsibility to show how to right these wrongs committed daily, the wrongs that satisfy the flesh. We are to tell them who follow the flesh there is another way, not the way of death but the way of life. The only way to true satisfaction is the way of life, and that is only possible through Jesus Christ, the Saviour.
We serve a different Master now. We don’t serve the ruler of our flesh, but the Ruler of the Universe. He said to go and make disciples, those who would follow Him only, and by doing so, make the world a better place for everyone!
Well then, what are we waiting for? What’s holding us back? Let’s go!