To say our nation is hurting right now is an understatement. Sometimes as average citizens we leave matters of national security, law, and civil unrest to politicians and law enforcement; and those who’ve taken an oath to protect and serve certainly play a role in keeping peace and resolving conflict in our nation. But police officers, politicians, and public officials can only do so much.
Part of my role in Safari Christian Business Alliance is to encourage and help Christian business owners and leaders, who have enormous influence in our nation, obey the teachings of Jesus and be salt and light in our world. That means we’re to use the influence God has given us to permeate our culture with the Good News that salvation can only be found by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
As followers of Jesus, and as people of influence who have been blessed, there are some actions we can take to be the salt and light that Jesus spoke of.
As Americans, and certainly as Christians, we share a responsibility to help unify our nation. Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Luke 12:48).
If you’re reading this you’ve probably been given much. You’ve been blessed. If God in His goodness has allowed you to be a person of influence, perhaps to own your own business or to occupy a position of influence in your community, He has entrusted you with a stewardship.
I know you’ve worked very hard to be where you are today. And if God has blessed you, you should be thankful and not feel a need to apologize for your success; but I want to encourage you to look at your current position and hear the words Mordecai said to his relative, Queen Esther, as he urged her to use her position to save her people, the Jews, from certain genocide:
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
In the wake of the tragedy that occurred in Dallas this past week and the ongoing examples of racial unrest, our nation seems to be stunned right now, sort of like a heavy weight fighter who’s received the blunt force of a roundhouse punch right in the jaw. We’re reeling.
Here are some ways to consider stepping into the racial tension that currently divides our nation, especially as a follower of Christ. This list is only a beginning, but I believe if we would start to practice some of these actions, we’d see some dramatic differences in the way people treat one another. They’re in no certain order. I just jotted them down as I thought of them.
How can I help our nation?
Acknowledge that we all have baggage.
I grew up in the suburbs of Louisville, Ky. My mom was a Christian but she’d grown up in the inner city during a time that big cities in our nation dealt with constant racial tension. It wasn’t unusual for my brothers and me to hear her or her parents (my grandparents) throw out racial slurs, especially toward African Americans.
Our family progressed as many did during the late 1960’s and 70’s, but as a boy and young teen I feared African Americans because of stereotypes and my own ignorance. Then state officials decided to begin forced bussing in Louisville schools. That decision led to renewed racial tension and violence in our city and suburbs.
Anyway, none of those things in my background justify racism or prejudice on my part, ever; but they are still there. I would be foolish not to acknowledge them. Admitting them is actually valuable ammunition in my arsenal against racist and prejudicial attitudes in my own life.
Recognize our differences.
God is a God of diversity and a God of creativity. He could have made us all the same but He didn’t.
Some people misquote and misunderstand Galatians 3:28. The apostle Paul actually wrote to Christians,
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Notice in the above verse the Paul did not say we are all the SAME. He said we are all ONE in Christ Jesus. He actually pointed out that we are different by mentioning the different categories of people, but in Christ we are all one. And that phrase “in Christ” is the real key.
We are very different, but in Christ we can be unified. If all the instruments in an orchestra were the same, concerts would be very boring. But when every instrument is allowed to do what it was created to do, the result is beautiful—a masterpiece.
When God chose David to be king of Israel, even though some of his brothers evidently were more physically impressive, the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Listen to people who are different than you.
Just listen to people talk about racial issues. You can tell they’re not listening to one another. They’re just waiting for the other person to stop talking so they can make their point. Let’s listen to one another. When I have hard discussions about matters of race and discrimination with my African American friends, they don’t expect me to understand what they go through or where they’re coming from. They just want me to love and respect them enough to listen.
Do we just want to make a point? Or do we want to make a difference?
Admit that my birth into my ethnic group was God’s choice, not mine.
I didn’t choose to be born to my parents. That was God’s sovereign choice. I did nothing of my own accord to be born a white male in the United States of America. God chose that. He could just as easily have placed me in Africa or China or Afghanistan, but he didn’t.
So why would I ever feel superior and inferior to anyone, no matter what the color of my skin? This was God’s choice. He doesn’t make mistakes. I don’t even have to always like my appearance, but it wasn’t up to me.
A proper attitude is to be thankful that God made me as He did. He has His own purposes, and I may never fully understand them.
Choose to invest in your community and local schools, especially if you’re located in the inner city.
Sometimes as Christians we talk more about what we’re against than what we are for. Let’s communicate to mayors and city councils and school boards that we may not always agree with the decisions they make, but we are FOR them as a people and as organizations. Like them, we want our community to become a place that’s safe. Let’s work with city and neighborhood leaders so businesses and people can prosper and grow their families and hopefully make the world a better place until Christ returns to make all things new.
Make every attempt to hire so that your staff or team reflects your community.
This is one area where we can set a great example. In the New Testament book of Acts as God began to save people, the churches started to look more and more like their communities. They were far from perfect. There was still prejudice. But they loved for and cared for one another. And when there were racial problems they dealt with them head on (see the controversy over the Jewish and non-Jewish widows in Acts 6).
Intentionally befriend people with a different skin color from you.
We need a national conversation; but it needs to be personal as well. The conversations we need to have shouldn’t only take place on Capital Hill. They should start in my front yard, and in the break room, and at the little league field. People who live together, really live together, usually aren’t trying to harm one another. If the conversations are done correctly, they would generate more light than heat.
Pray for our nation.
Work as if it all depends on you. Pray as if it all depends up God; because it does. It’s impossible to hate someone that you earnestly and consistently pray for. Not only does God hear our prayers, but your heart hears your prayers as well. Try it, and over time you’ll notice your heart will begin to soften.
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.
If God is our Father, then we are brothers and sisters.
Psalm 133 reads,
A Song of Ascents, of David.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing– life forever.
9. Recognize we live in a fallen world, and the only real solution is the Gospel.
We fight because of sin. Some wars are just and must be fought, but the racial battles in our nation are result of sin and pride. Even the earth itself groans because of sin (see Romans 8:18-19).
One day, God will make all things new, but we shouldn’t expect Paradise on earth.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,
And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
You may think that you don’t have a role to play in the peace of our nation. Or you may believe that your voice doesn’t matter. I would ask you to please keep in mind these final thoughts.
First, we are all made in the image of God. We are part of a whole. John Donne wrote:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
. . .
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
Lastly, if you believe your voice doesn’t matter, Queen Esther believed the same thing. I know I’m repeating myself, but to paraphrase Mordecai, “Who knows but that you’ve been raised to your position for such a time as this?”