The Gospel Is Still the Answer
The video of the murder of George Floyd is horrifying. Any human being with an innate sense of justice should feel outrage at the senseless execution of a man in broad daylight. And the worst part is knowing that, over 150 years after the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution and over 50 years after the Civil Rights Act was passed, there are still Americans who hold prejudices against those with different skin colors. There are still prejudiced police officers, attorneys, and judges. There are still prejudiced loan officers. There are still prejudiced employers. And the sum total of prejudice against African Americans creates the feeling of systematic oppression at the hands of the established systems of power.
On the other hand, the videos of the looting and burning of American cities by angry rioters are also horrifying. With rampant violence against innocent police officers and the destruction of struggling businesses, these riots have cost the lives and livelihoods of countless Americans from all ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses. Anarchy rules the streets as devastation reaches the doorstep of numerous innocent bystanders.
What do racism, police brutality, rioting, and looting, all have in common? They all stem from the sinfulness of the human heart. While I do not want to downplay the helpfulness of policy decisions that should be made to correct the current situation, laws do not change hearts; laws merely suppress human sinfulness at the threat of punishment. But the gospel—the good news—of salvation found in Jesus Christ is capable of washing away sin, healing brokenness, ending racism, stopping violence, and changing hearts.
Those who hold deep-seated prejudices against others need their hearts changed. Racism and prejudice are rooted in the pride and arrogance of determining oneself to be superior to another based solely on the color of one’s skin—despite the clear, objective reality that each one of us is an imperfect, sinful human being who deserves the total wrath of God. Where in our own brokenness can we find enough characteristics worth praising to say we are fundamentally better than anybody else, much less an entire group of people? Any person who can watch a video of the senseless killing of another human being and immediately seek to explain away the tragedy because the victim has a particular skin color needs a heart change. Any police officer who has within him or her the capacity to do likewise needs a heart change. Any employer who judges a person by the color of their skin rather than their ability to accomplish the task at hand needs a heart change. Praise God that He is in the business of changing hearts.
Those who smash windows, loot stores, and burn down buildings need a heart change. While it is important for all Americans to understand the reasons for the rioting, the expression of frustration through senseless violence is rooted in the violent tendencies of a sinful heart. Using a protest as an excuse to steal, harm, and destroy does more to expose the content of one’s own heart than the plight of one’s circumstances. Any person who smashes windows and burns police cars needs a heart change. Any rioter who loots a Target needs a heart change. Any protestor who throws bricks at police officers needs a heart change. Praise God that He is in the business of changing hearts.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will
remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel
These verses and numerous others speak to God’s ability to change sinful hearts. Nothing else on earth can replace our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh. Nothing else on earth can replace our prejudices with unconditional love for others. Nothing else on earth can replace our violent tendencies with overwhelming peace.
The gospel always has been and always will be the answer to the problems in this world. That does not mean we shouldn’t seek political solutions to oppression and violence; as governments exist to promote justice, we should seek to remedy oppression with political solutions. However, we shouldn’t rely on those solutions to solve problems that emanate from the human heart. Only God the Father, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can resurrect dead hearts and dead societies. Until the message of the gospel shines forth in the darkness, hearts across the world will continue to find ways to express their sinfulness. The gospel is the answer today. The gospel will be the answer tomorrow. And believers across the globe, heralds of this glorious good news, must do their job to proclaim this message of heart change to the world.