Let’s start on common ground, there is one undeniable fact – racism is evil.
Here are a few sensitive questions for you to consider – where do you stand amidst on going discussions about racial injustice? Have you ever held racist views? Have you experienced racism and the deep dehumanising grief that can accompany it?
This plan does not claim to have the answers, but together we can come before God, who does, after all as the psalmist said it is He that made us, not we ourselves. (Psalm 100:3) Whatever your internal battle looks like at the moment regarding racism, it is paramount that you bring it before the Judge of all mankind.
If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? Proverbs 24:12
Today, take your own questions, frustrations, accusations, complaints and grief to God. Don’t wait to have it “figured out”. This fight against racial injustice has gone on for centuries, regardless of how well meaning our endeavours may be, there is no quick fix.
there is no quick fix
King David, is a great example of a flawed man just like you and I, who sought after God. When he sinned, he spoke to God. When he had victory, he spoke to God. When he was running for his life from Saul, he spoke to God. As a shepherd boy, he spoke to God. As a king, he spoke to God.
In Psalm 73 the psalmist was frustrated, by what appeared to him as injustice – why do the wicked prosper he wondered. As he began to voice his internal grief, he came before God. In verse 17 he says, Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
If like me, you don’t even know where to start with the issue of racism – you’re not sure what to post, tweet, fight for or against – start a conversation with God today. Like the psalmist, simply come into His presence and start talking, and as with any conversation – listen too.
**This is a four-part series so please read posts in chronological order, and share your thoughts. Full series on homepage**
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts. Proverbs 21:2
Most of us will be familiar with Psalm 139. It’s the Psalm that talks about us being “fearfully and wonderfully made”. In this poetic Psalm, we read the psalmist’s reflections on God’s divine providence, as creator of every living thing. What is interesting is that after all is said and done the psalmist concludes with a petition for God to search his heart.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
how is your heart?
At this time of uproar against racial injustice – how is your heart? When God wanted to choose the next king of Israel, He sent his faithful servant, the prophet Samuel to anoint him. Samuel expected the decision to be based on birthright or experience or stature, but as God corrected Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:6-7, He revealed to us that He judges the heart.
6 And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him. 7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.
God searches the heart of man because, from the heart flows all the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). When the video of the murder of George Floyd started circulating on social media, there was so much noise – outrage, pain, grief, confusion – it was overwhelming. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t process my emotions, I felt so grieved – heart broken that one human being could do this to another, because of the colour of his skin and it wasn’t the first time.
I asked God, why are some people so evil – how could this happen in broad daylight, in front if witnesses who could film it? Then the Holy Spirit said to me, it’s a heart issue.
it’s a heart issue.
At the core of racism and other injustices constantly playing out all over the world even at this very moment, is the consequence of sin – evil. Man has the ability to conceive evil in his heart, even when unprovoked and unjustified.
One thing is certain, justice must prevail and just laws must be implemented, all citizens should at the very least feel safe and secure in the state which governs them, irrespective of their race. But if racism is a heart issue at its core, then I ask – what stops us from holding these extremely discriminatory views? For many it is convieniently hidden beneath the surface, until it gradually begins to slip through the cracks – our preconceptions, conversations, judgements, biases – in our homes, at school, at work.
Today, simply go before God and pray and reflect on the prayer of Psalm 139:24. Lord, “see if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting”.
**This is a four-part series so please read posts in chronological order, and share your thoughts**
Have you ever done something that completely shocked you?
Kind David, the most celebrated king in the old testament sent a man to his death, equivalent to murdering him (without getting his hands dirty), because he – David impregnated his wife! Uriah was a faithful soldier and David rewarded him with grave injustices. Read the account in 2 Samuel 11:2-15
David’s plan worked perfectly and his heart was so consumed by evil that he took Uriah’s wife as his own, despite already having several wives! But as with every evil and injustice, God saw what David did and He wasn’t happy with him and passed judgement against him 2 Samuel 12:9-12.
Where did it all start? It started in David’s heart. Matthew 5:27-28 says: 27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
David lusted after Bathsheba from afar, and out of his desire was birthed adultery, murder and the judgement of God upon his household. It would be naive of us to believe our own heart is without sin. It’s one thing to acknowledge our flaws, it is another thing to repent.
Today, the invitation is open, to ask God for forgiveness, for the sins we have committed openly and in our hearts. When God confronted David about his evil actions – God said “thou hast despised Me”. When we sin, even where we are told the end justifies the means – the first transgression is against God before any man, because He established the standard of righteousness. In the world two wrongs make a right but in God’s kingdom this is not the case.
Where we have witnessed injustice, racism and we have looked away because of ignorance, apathy or selfish ambition. Where we have justified our wrong doing, in the name of revenge and retaliation. Where we have discriminated, condemned and walked in partiality. Let us pray, as David prayed in Psalm 51 when repenting for his actions:
1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
**This is a four-part series so please read posts in chronological order, and share your thoughts**
It’s ironic that the recent outcry against racial injustice was preceded by a global pandemic.
Racism is also a global pandemic. It is a widespread disease that gradually destroys from the inside out. It is passed on silently from generation to generation, subtly from institution to institution. The recent Covid-19 outbreak saw health practitioners desperately treating symptoms in an attempt to suppress the virus, because they didn’t fully understand the disease or the root cause. It is one thing to be outraged by the consequences of racism, but if we are not mindful of the root, the origin of this pandemic, then how will we ever tackle it effectively?
The origin of racism, it’s core is evil. Evil – sin is an ever-prevalent pandemic. After the fall of man in Eden, sin entered creation and we see it manifested in many evils of this age . Until Jesus returns and this world passes away, sin will continue to be in the world, and evil likewise. So what should we do if hearts are unwilling to change and repent from the sin and evil of racism?
The children of Israel were enslaved by Egyptians for 400 years, their system was the ultimate example of institutional racism. Being born an Israelite in those days made you a slave by default and subject to the oppression of Egypt irrespective of your ambitions or desires in life (Exodus 1:13-14).
13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.
Egypt wasn’t willing to have a change of heart, even after the land experienced outbreaks of plagues. The tug-o-war that ensued between Pharaoh and Israel for their freedom, was due to the condition of Pharaoh’s heart. Throughout the struggle, Pharaoh’s heart hardened repeatedly (Exodus 9:34-35). In the end God intervened and humbled Egypt with His mighty hand.
34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the Lord had spoken by Moses.
The children of Israel were greater in number than the Egyptians (see Exodus 1:8-10 ), but it wasn’t a coup or revolt that led to their freedom. Instead God heard their cry, arose for them, and He fiercely judged Pharaoh and Egypt for Israel’s freedom.
And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; Exodus 3:7
Even when Pharoah wanted to make their freedom conditional – God made it clear to all of Egypt that this was not an option and Israel gained total freedom.
So how should we as Christians address this pandemic, how should we fight racial injustice? Start with intercessory prayer. To use a modern term – don’t sleep on the power of prayer. Only God has the power to break the cycle of centuries of injustice – to heal those who for generations have been oppressed because of the colour of their skin – to deliver those who may have begun to believe the lies projected upon them. Only God has the power to convict perpetrators who for generations have reinforced these terrible prejudices.
We’ve been sold a lie that prayer is the cowardly response to challenges, even racism. We’ve been fooled into believing prayer equates to inactivity and apathy. We’ve been misled into believing that events in the natural precede those in the supernatural. Actually the opposite is true. Just as Jesus explained in Matthew 12:29 how can you take the possessions of a strong man without first binding him? We cannot overcome the devil in the physical, without first disarming him in the spiritual. Like with all matters of warfare, the battle must be won in the spiritual before it can be won in the physical. So that our physical efforts will not be in vain, let’s begin the fight in our prayers.
God loves us, all of us. His desire for us is always deliverance, always liberty, always freedom, always healing. Today I challenge you to pray. I know it’s not the popular, trendy approach, but it takes the case before the one who really has the power to bring lasting change, the judge of all mankind – God.
Let’s pray for humanity – millions of people experiencing racial injustices daily all over the world. There are millions more reeling from what they had to endure in past generations. Let’s pray for God to deliver the oppressed and to heal the broken hearted – as He promised in Luke 4:18.
Pray for lawmakers, influencers, governments and local leaders – they may be a modern day Pharoah or a Moses – they may be part of the problem or the solution. Pray for God to burden their hearts with an overwhelming desire to eradicate racism. That the existence of racial injustice would trouble their hearts and result in an historic shift in socio-political attitudes – like the parting of the red sea, to bring an end to institutional racism in this generation and beyond.
Let’s pray for wisdom, for God to reveal what needs to be done practically in our local communities, governments, institutions, even our homes. Where is change needed, and what does true justice look like? Our world is broken in so many ways and full of darkness, our hearts break as we are confronted by the reality of this. But I dare to believe, against the grain which says power lies with man – that God, even our God is able to save us.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. Daniel 3:17
**This is a four-part series so please read in chronological order, and share your thoughts**
This year, more than any in recent history, we’ve been confronted by the mortality of man on a global scale. It has been emotionally exhausting at times getting daily updates of how many lives were lost the day before; and yet it has forced many of us to reflect on death and eternity. A few weeks ago the much-loved and respected apologist Ravi Zacharias passed away.
During the months leading to Ravi’s passing, a social media campaign #ThankyouRavi gained momentum, as people shared their appreciation for Ravi’s ministry, dedication to defending the Gospel and discipiling others to do the same. I could understand the sentiment, but I felt like people were already saying goodbye to Ravi (he was still with us) and it made me feel uncomfortable.
Death makes all of us feel uncomfortable. The last few months of the Covid-19 outbreak have confirmed the tragedy associated with death. There were times during these past weeks where it felt unending, but as lock down restrictions are beginning to lift, here we are coming out on the other side in Jesus name.
Whenever I read through the book of Acts and the Gospels, my heart sinks everytime I read about disciples being martyred. No matter how many times I read through the Gospels, there is always a minute part of me desperate for Pilate to reject the Jews unlawful and unjust sentencing of Jesus to death. Within myself I murmur Pilate stand your ground don’t let them do this, their making a mistake, He is the King of the Jews. But the reality is regardless of how “nice” or “noble” my internal petitions may sound, it would mean no crucifixion, no resurrection and that would mean no salvation for us today. Jesus Christ had to die.
In Sarah Davis’ tribute to her father Ravi Zacharias on the RZIM website Sarah said something that really made me stop and think.
“My father is more alive than ever before”
I had to ponder on this statement for a while. Then suddenly I started to grasp what the Apostle Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Sarah’s loving tribute to her father reminded me of the ultimate hope of every follower of Christ. As Paul rightly points out in 1 Corinthians 15:19 the Christian’s hope is not to live forever on this earth. We are not pursuing immortality in a finite world. But instead our hope is to fulfil God’s call for our lives here on earth, and ultimately inherit eternal life with Him in heaven.
Sometimes I wrestle with difficult questions when someone dies, whether they’re high-profile or not. “Why God, why did You allow this person to die? What about those left behind? Couldn’t You have spared their life?” I’ve never received a direct response to these questions. But when my grief becomes to heavy to bear , and drives me to the presence Of God – then I see Jesus and I’m comforted. I’m reminded that death is not the end, nor is it tragic for the believer. Because what awaits us is incomparable to what we see now. 1 Corinthian 13:12
I’m not trying to trivialise death. It is devastating. Death is horrible, especially if preceded by suffering, sickness or injustice. Even now there are many mourning loved ones lost during the outbreak, and they deserve to be comforted and supported through their grief. But let’s also remember that death is not the end, and for every believer in Jesus Christ – life, abundant – indescribable in comparison to the standards of this world, is only just beginning.
So here is a challenging thought, perhaps this taboo topic of death, may be a path way into a discussion about life, eternity, salvation and God’s redeeming love. This also is Good News.
Lord we bring before you every person heart broken and grieved by the loss of a loved one. We bring before you Lord every person who feels the loss is unbearable. We pray that You minister Your peace to every heart, we ask You to carry them in their weariness, and envelop them with your presence, to comfort and renew them in Jesus name amen.