Since the Zimmerman verdict was announced a few weeks ago, there has been a lot of talk about race that has taken place. Many people, black and white alike, are up in arms about the results of the trial because they feel like race played a major role throughout this case starting with Trayvon’s unfortunate death. Yet for other people, this is all that Trayvon’s death was – unfortunate. It was not the result of racism or any other form of systemic oppression, but something that could have easily happened to any person wearing a hoodie and walking slowly on a rainy night.
For others, Trayvon’s death is evidence that we live in a sinful, evil society. Such persons argue that sin is the root of the problem and not race to which I wholeheartedly agree. Ever since Adam and Eve chased after their own lusts instead of staying committed to God, sin has destroyed us and is the root cause of every societal problem that we face. It is the reason why we steal and kill. It is the reason why we cower in fear over those who do not look like us or share our worldview. It is the reason why a jury would allow a man who took the life of another to walk away completely free. As much as we try to deny it, sin is our master and controls every move we make (Romans 6).
That being said, while sin is the culprit of this whole thing, race is a symptom of the sin. Though it is not the cause, we would be naïve to say that it doesn’t exist and that it doesn’t wreak havoc in our communities. We have to remember that race was created as a means to keep Native Americans and African Americans in their place during the days of slavery in the United States, and used as a means to justify their mistreatment. Those who made up this ridiculous construct proposed that people of certain races were less than human, and because they were not fully human, it was ok to enslave them, colonize them, rape them and even kill them.
Although race was created hundreds of years ago, these ideals continue to be deeply embedded in our society. Our homes, schools, hospitals, neighborhoods, governments, and yes even churches function in response to this demonic construct that was put in place years ago. All we have to do is look around the U.S. and we will see it alive and at work.
But that is not to say that it cannot be overcome. Indeed, it can be. All sin, because of the blood that Christ shed on the cross, can and will be dealt with. Although a lot of damage has been done, we can have victory in this area because of the victory that Christ accomplished in His reconciling us back to God first and foremost, and subsequently to one another. Out of our relationship with Him, we are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation, which means that we as believers have a responsibility to bring people together across racial, gender, sexual, socioeconomic, and political lines (2 Corinthians 5.17 – 20). But it will take prayer – a whole lot of prayer – and a fair amount of intentionality to overturn these concepts and feelings in people’s hearts and throughout society. We have to have open conversations, repent, offer forgiveness and go the extra mile to get to the bottom of this evil.
Race won’t go away simply because we deny it or say that it does not exist. Though I wish it were that easy, we cannot be ignorant of the enemy’s devices. Race, like every other sin, cannot be ignored; it must be dealt with head-on! Until we take intentional steps to confront it, it will continue to divide and conquer our communities.