Matter of the heart

Over the past week, there have been a lot of comments coming to my in-box about race, racism, the problem, how to fix it, or just that it is not a problem. Opening dialogue on this issue is a good thing. I stand with Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The context of this verse is that when we are baptized into Christ, we put on Christ, and in that there essentially is one race—the human race as one in Christ. I get that. Once we accept Christ, however, our lives change. In that change, we have a higher standard that applies to our lives. For me, Galatians 3:28 informs how we are to view and treat others.

In my emails, I have read explanations of the statistics of police brutality and fatalities caused by police action. I have read about what police experience in high crime areas. I have read remarks about black on black crime. I have read about many other issues pertaining to people of color. All of these are from those who are Christian. It seems to me that these topics are justifications that indicate bias. I’m not judging, don’t get me wrong. It is good to have open discussions without incrimination. But I will say that unless you have walked a mile in a man’s shoes, you do not know what he endures. Many white people just do not understand what is behind the black man’s plea. We get all wrapped up in the politics of the matter.

Throughout the black community there is great concern, it is a form of soft tyranny, really. One example of the concern, or anxiety, or worry is that when their child leaves the house, whether by foot, by car or with friends, that they don’t know if he/she will come back again. You may say, “Well, that’s just not reality, statistics don’t back that up.” Don’t be hard-hearted. This has happened enough times over the course of decades that it has left an indelible impression. And every time there is a George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, or Breonna Taylor, it tears the scabs off of old wounds and reinforces the anxiety. This is real. Most of us do not know what this is like because we don’t live it day to day. This is just one example. There are more.

When there is such a death, how do you think it looks when people try to explain it away? What happened to listening and hearing? What happened to empathy? There is a cry coming out from the wilderness from our hurting brothers and sisters. Do we have ears to hear? More importantly, do we have hearts to receive? Can we begin to listen with compassion? Can we at least try to understand? This is not the time to turn a deaf ear, or to look the other way. As Christians, we are to love one another, and love our neighbor. How else can the message of Christ lead to salvation and unity, if first we do not have love for one another? This is not about statistics or politics or painting all with the same brush; it is a matter of the heart.

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Bill Wilson