I was absolutely horrified standing in my local coffee shop early Sunday morning to see the images coming over the newscast from Charlottesville, VA. My heart hurt and those I was standing with all vocalized the horror of such actions by hated-filled individuals. I got my coffee and I had a but of a drive ahead of me, which allowed me to think for a few moments on the events. It led me to thinking of some my travels as a college girl. There have been two places in the world I have stood, where my feet were rooted to the ground and my heart was pierced, knowing to my core that racism in any form was wrong. One of those places was abroad and one here on U.S. soil.
The first spot I speak of was in Germany, where on a freezing German winter morning as a young college student, I toured Dachau concentration camp with my travel mates. Everything about that place is somber and makes you contemplative. You can almost hear the screams and you certainly can feel the heaviness of such a place. I remember walking around bundled up in my sweater, coat and warm boots thinking, "how could anyone survive this weather in a thin cotton dress or shirt," as many who were taken there did. As we toured through different areas just taking in the place and knowing what kind of atrocities happened there, I felt it in my soul that racism was wrong. All those who suffered there at the hands of the Nazis had no crime other than simply being different.
The second place a couple years later that my heart felt the same murmurings was at the Civil Rights museum in Memphis, TN, which was previously the Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. The feelings and stories emerging from that place felt even closer to home. This was how American brothers treated one another. I found myself hurting for our history and wondering how we would continue as a country to move forward with better race relationships, but more than that I was asking myself, "would humans ever learn to treat each other better?"
Unfortunately as far back at history is recorded, there are stories of one people group being against another or viewing another group as superior. We cannot though, treat this type of behavior as acceptable. I read an article yesterday that better sums up this idea than I ever could so I will quote Dr. Mohler here. "But Christians must see much more than the lessons of history, though we dare not miss them. We must see claims of racial superiority–and mainly that means claims of white superiority–as heresy. That is not a word we use casually. Heresy leads to a denial of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the eclipse of the living God as revealed in the Bible. A claim of white superiority is not merely wrong, and not merely deadly. It is a denial of the glory of God in creating humanity—every single human being–in his own image. It is a rejection of God’s glory in creating a humanity of different skin pigmentation. It is a misconstrual of God’s judgment and glory in creating different ethnicities."
God created us ALL in HIS IMAGE and we do well not to forget that. I know this problem often feels so much bigger than any of us, so what can we do? We can literally love our neighbor. I am thankful to live in a very ethnically diverse neighborhood and have many relationships here. I can also continually teach my children that to treat someone differently based on them being different (race, gender, ability etc) is NOT ok. We can raise our children to be a different generation and we can all pray to root out any kind of deep-seeded misconceptions or prejudices in our own hearts. As these prejudices surface in your mind, confess them and ask God to take them from you. We have to all be committed to doing the work to make it better. May you find a little spot of joy this Monday in loving or serving someone different than you!