I’m trying to find my place in this world of chaos and confusion. I have had frank conversations with dear friends whose lives and experiences have been entirely different from mine due to discrimination, and my eyes are opening to the travesty of racism in our land. My inclination has been to shrink back in shame because of the color of my skin; to feel like I am part of the problem, that no matter how hard I try to be kind or how carefully I choose my words, I will be seen as part of the problem race. And then I realized that that is probably how my fellow citizens have always felt- from the time they were brought to this country in chains until now. I have formulated all sorts of opinions and defenses for those of us who don’t see color in our friends and fellow Americans in an attempt to diffuse the situation, but my meager attempts for peace can do nothing to remove the scars of sin that have marred our country for centuries. Sin leads to death and is passed down generation after generation after generation.
The issues prompting today’s headlines are not going away anytime soon because there are no quick fixes or simple solutions for them. Racism is a sin that joins the bleak ranks of adultery, murder, theft, gossip, hatred, deception, abortion (of which Black babies have the highest death rate) and every other vile thought, word and deed that is conceived in the heart of man. Our country is reeling from the devastation of drug addiction, sex trafficking, child pornography, domestic violence, and broken homes. The recent protests and riots have opened our eyes to the deep wounds of sin that have compounded across generations. The problem is that we are broken people trying to fix broken people. It can’t be done.
Thankfully, I don’t need to have an opinion about all of this nor do I have to come up with solutions to this tidal wave of problems devastating our nation. I simply need to turn to Christ and His Word. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 gives a template for the Christian life: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands…so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” This doesn’t mean ignore injustice because it’s not happening to me. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 goes on to explain how we should engage with others: “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Collectively, I believe these verses mean to spend my time ensuring that I’m being a faithful steward of what God has entrusted to me, and in doing so I can influence others. He has given me this life for a reason. I don’t want to squander it or belittle it. How do I put feet to my faith in a time like this? Here are a few specific actions I am going to take as I make it my ambition to lead a quiet life and mind my own business:
- Use my voice to speak (and write) the words God puts on my heart.
- Raise my children to see the intricacy of God’s image reflected in the diversity of mankind.
- Respect the lives and experiences of those around me.
- Be willing to listen without already preparing a comeback response.
- Not feel ashamed for being the person God created me to be.
- Live gratefully and humbly.
- Read God’s Word.
- Memorize God’s Word.
- Obey God’s Word.
Psalm 130 declares: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
This passage is a prayer for my personal life and for my country. Each of us is a sinner, whether we have been accessories to racial tension or not. We are rebels against God and that is the source of the mortal wounds in our nation. We can advocate, educate and plead for change but those are simply bandaids. Repentance is what will bring the healing we crave. Let us repent of our sins against God and each other. And then let us move forward.
Imperfect human beings cannot create a perfect solution to the problems we are facing. The only thing we can do is bring God back into the equation.