Earlier this year, Covid-19 pushed everything out of international news until a sad and awful event occurred in Minneapolis. George Floyd died as a result of harsh treatment and the world reacted. Such events should cause anguish in every heart and soul. How are we to make sense of these things?
Racism is repugnant, ugly, evil and wrong. It causes immense harm to the inherent human dignity of all people everywhere. It is also an affront to God, who in great, gracious and loving wisdom created people of all nations. Racial and ethnic difference is an example of God’s creative goodness and brilliance.
It is abhorrent that a group of people should live in fear, be treated with unwarranted suspicion and experience unjust treatment because of their race or culture. We all should experience a sense of deep sadness and shame.
Culture change is desperately required. That may involve legislative and policy change and many are calling for political leaders to “solve” the situation. Legislation will never change the orientation of a heart.
Change begins in the hearts of people. Every household should be meeting around the family table and talking seriously about the inherent dignity and value of every person; raising a generation that values all people as made in the image of God. We need to be engaged, where we are able, in living mercifully in our local communities. We need to be practicing positive hospitality in our neighbourhoods and beyond.
In the USA, the people who suffer most may well be African Americans, however racism is not just a problem for the USA. Around the world racial tensions exist in every nation.
It led to the deaths of six million people in Nazi Germany; it led to the deaths of almost a million people, and the exile of two million more in Rwanda in 1994. Today in Myanmar over six hundred thousand ethnic Rohingya people have been abused, discriminated against and banished from their own nation. Racial divides continue in a systematised way in India and many Asian countries. There is not a country in the world where racism does not raise its ugly head. Racism is a global problem and to categorise it as simply a white versus black problem is far too simplistic.
Those who identify the problem as blackness or whiteness; black power or white supremacy are exacerbating ethnic and racial divisions. The problem is universal, where sinful humans, like us, fight for superiority and position. This sin, plays itself out in racism, in gender conflict, in locking people into right versus left politics. We divide people into victims and perpetrators. We develop more and more reasons for conflict between groups who are different; we see increasing anger, resentment, bitterness and violence.
Friedrich Nietzsche suggested that in accepting the absence of God there is no progress and no harmony only the exercise of power. Our sinful hearts lead us to compete in this power struggle.
The God of the Bible says that humility is the characteristic of God’s people. The God of the Bible says that Christ died to enable correct relationships to be restored.
We cannot underestimate the pain and sadness in communities of black people in the USA. George Floyd’s tragic death brings to the surface once again the aching hurt of injustice and unfairness.
Let us recognise the evil in our own hearts. Let us teach ourselves and our children in our families, schools and churches that human life is sacred; that only Christ brings an authentic view of humanness and dignity. Where we can influence entrenched cultural wrongs, let us challenge those with grace and humility. Let us pray, act, and advocate, for reconciliation, peace, dignity, equality, healing and hope.
We need a basis for understanding everything
“Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.”
“Journalists form public opinion. They hold terribly important positions. Nevertheless, a theologian should never be formed by the world around him.”
It is not the Christian School’s task to shield or shelter its students from events and situations in the world. There needs to be age and maturity appropriate examination and interpretation of all that is happening in the local community, the nation and the world. To leave events unexamined is to tacitly imply that God has no relevance to these issues. It can lead to an unintended spiritual/secular dichotomy.
We are not simply to seek relevance in trying to marry the Word of God with the word of contemporary journalists. We need to see God’s Word as authoritative and true; because that is the nature of the author. Every journalist, however, has a bias and a faulty lens through which they interpret news and events.
The Bible does not comment on every event and situation. However, we do know a number of certain truths. God is sovereign. God is love. God is just. God is purposeful. God is grace – and so on. We looked at some of these aspects last semester.
The foundational point is that we need to interpret events through what is true of God and not determine our view of God through circumstances.
If, for example, we believe that God exists for our comfort, when life becomes uncomfortable, we will tend to either distance ourselves from God, or reinterpret our view of Him.
It is essential that we assist young people to see that the foundational starting point for understanding all things is to understand the God of the Bible.
Over the next few weeks, we will attempt to look at a number of contemporary issues and how we might help young minds to interpret the world.
 Karl Barth as reported in Time Magazine Friday, May 31, 1963.