“Love is not affectionate feeling but a steady wish for the loved one’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” C.S. Lewis
Only a person without a conscience could watch the video and not feel horror, anger, and heartache.
Only a person with a hardened heart could witness the evil done to George Floyd and adamantly deny that racism still exists. Feeling sick to my stomach I asked myself, How often has racial injustice occurred without video proof? How blind have we been to the reality of prejudice and reckless disregard for life?”
George’s dying words, I can’t breathe, are impossible to unhear. They woke us up, and, like Saul on the Road to Damascus, whose heart converted as he heard Jesus’ voice and went from persecuting Christians to joining the disciples to preach the gospel and changed his name to Paul, they made the scales fall off a multitude of eyes.
The Holy Spirit has been at work, convicting hearts across America of the grave injustices that mark our history and the unjust realities that still exist. In massive numbers, we’ve felt sadness and regret that has galvanized our commitment to righting the wrongs from our past. As my wise friend Toni said, “Only God could give us the same feeling at once.” Only God could take this act of evil and unite us in a movement for change.
Yet when God shows up big time, the devil works overtime. He pulls out any stop to interrupt holy work and stir up division, mistrust, and hate. The Greek word for devil is diabolos, and it means “the one who divides.” In this world of spiritual warfare, we have an enemy who loves to corrupt God’s truth and undermine steps in the right direction.
Any move toward Christlike love – toward compassion, unity, humility, forgiveness, apologies, justice, confession, warm relationships, reconciliation, mercy, solidarity, holy sacrifice, righteous anger channeled correctly, and white hands joining black hands to become allies – is subject to attack.
Our country was already at war with itself, giving the enemy fertile ground to work on. People are angry, polarized, isolated, lonely, anxious, and on edge. We’ve lost faith in big media because it’s sensationalized and biased, so we seek our facts from 10,000 gurus. We cloud our minds with online opinions, and before long, it’s so crowded with voices that we struggle to hear God. We buy into narratives that humans create and believe stereotypes that assume the worst.
America’s condition has reminded my high school daughter of what she once learned in history class. A few ways that totalitarian leaders get people to do what they want are: 1) create a common enemy, 2) censor or control the information people take in so they can spoon-feed propaganda, 3) speak eloquently, and 4) play to people’s emotions.
People bond when given a common enemy. This is how Hitler gained power, by making the Germans hate the Jews, and though we think we’re above that, it’s this same kind of hate that fuels ugly debates over race relations, politics, and religion. It’s this hate that hardens our hearts and makes us tar and feather anyone who disagrees with us or makes a mistake.
My dad has always said that problems begin when people drift away from God. Problems begin when we prioritize anything before God. And when we make an idol of fighting, attacking, winning, proving we’re right, gaining power, protecting an image, or another hidden agenda, it causes a slow drift away from the source of real love, peace, and wisdom.
The opposite of love, according to Pope John Paul II, isn’t hate, but rather, use – treating people like things and things like people. Using people for personal gain separates us from God. Unless we realize this and turn back, we’ll slowly drift away and barely even notice until we wake up one day and struggle to see or hear the Lord.
At this point, it’s easy to hate and adopt the mindsets of this world.
Because God IS love and truth, we need Him in our hearts to show love, see truth, and understand these facts:
- Every human is made in God’s image.
- Every human has inherent worth and dignity. No culture or skin tone is “better” than another.
- Jesus died on the cross so we can hear our Father, know our Father, and spend eternity with Him in heaven.
- Even on our worst days, God loves us. His kindness leads to repentance. Repentance leads to grace. Grace makes us new creations through Christ. As Joanna Weaver says, “Jesus didn’t come to make bad people better. He came to transform us into something entirely new.”
- We love because God loved us first. Faith begins when we open our heart to receive His love – and let it transform us from the inside out.
- We’re called to live for our audience of One, not win popularity contests. Only God knows our heart, and since He’s the One we answer to at the end of our lives, we only have to please Him.
Racism is a sin, and so is hate. As we address the first issue, we must also confront the second. It’s easy to point fingers, to blame all our problems on political leaders or external factors, but the real problem is internal.
The real problem starts in our hearts, our homes, and our innermost circles. The real problem starts with the blind spots that even good-hearted people have.
We all have heart work to do, and until we stop attacking others and look at the man in the mirror – doing a fearless self-inventory as we ask God to search our hearts and reveal our sins so can confess them, grow, and move forward – we’ll be playthings of the enemy. We’ll be extra-susceptible to attacks, especially if we’re full of pride.
As C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, pride is what Christian teachers call the utmost evil. Pride leads to every other vice and is the complete anti-God state of mind. Sadly, there is no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. Lewis writes: “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
Lewis says the first step to humility is to realize one is proud, and if you think you’re not conceited, then you are very conceited indeed.
In arguments about race, pride hinders self-awareness. In keeps us from reflecting on the secret thoughts and events that go unchecked and unnoticed. Everyone knows that overt prejudice is wrong, yet it’s subtle prejudice that gets ignored. The degrading statements laughed about in friend groups, the assumptions we make based on appearances, the stereotypes passed down and taught through generations, the generalizations applied unfairly to groups (all black men are a threat, all blacks are ignorant, all police officers are evil, all whites are bad people, etc).
Surprisingly, according to author Robin Diangelo of White Fragility, the people who cause the most damage to people of color are white progressives. Why? Because they think they have “arrived.” They pour all their energy into making sure others see them as having “arrived” as anti-racists rather than engaging in a lifelong journey of self-awareness, education, relationship building, and anti-racial practice.
It’s hard to admit our personal wrongs without feeling guilt and regret, and that is why we first need security in God’s love. Otherwise, we may self-hate, self-loathe, deny, or defend. We may stay stuck in bad patterns that keep us from experiencing His life-changing grace.
We are all sinners surrounded by sinners, yet we find hope and forgiveness through Jesus. He reconciles us with the Father and each other. He tells us to love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Today in America, people get villainized and written off, but God’s ways and thoughts are higher. He sees who we can become and meets us where we are. He offers heroes of faith to prove that He works miracles.
Saint Paul, for instance, made tragic mistakes, yet God made him a profound evangelist. After his eyes were opened, Paul was unstoppable, carrying out his mission like a completely forgiven man and writing almost half of the New Testament that is helping save souls almost 2,000 years later.
Hate comes from the enemy, and it’s wrong to hate or feel superior to anyone: blacks, whites, atheists, Christians, Jews, Democrats, Republicans, people who wear masks, people who don’t wear masks, etc. When hate and agitation penetrate our hearts, we have to work through it and pray through it because left unchecked, they will blind us, enrage us, and lead us into the enemy’s hand.
Satan is sneaky, mixing real truths with half-truths, and that’s why we need discernment. “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong,” Charles Spurgeon said. “It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.” God will win this spiritual war of good versus evil, and in the meantime we must decide: Are we seeking truth – or just determined to win? Are we letting the Holy Spirit convict us – or going with public opinion? Are we ready to listen, educate ourselves, and learn from other cultures – or defend the systems and tribes that allow us to use others to achieve material success?
The senseless murder of George Floyd put evil on display. It showed how darkness can manifest in broad daylight. Yet as my friend Toni also said, “The devil overplayed his hand this time. God is going to use this like He’s never used anything before. He’s going to give people a heart for people who they previously have not had a heart for.”
I believe Toni is right, and I believe the Holy Spirit will continue to give us the same feelings at once. God is trying to heal our country, and if we genuinely pray for those we hate, we’ll find it harder to hate them. We’ll feel our hearts soften and awaken to a new kind of love, a love that feels good, shines light, defeats Satan, gains momentum, and puts us on common ground as children of One sovereign heavenly Father.
On Aug. 18, my new book Love Her Well: 10 Ways to Find Joy and Connection with Your Teenage Daughter releases. It’s gaining fantastic early buzz, and by pre-ordering now, you’ll receive amazing incentives like downloadable prints and prayers. Simply redeem your receipt here. Pre-order through Amazon, and you’re guaranteed the lowest price between now and Aug. 18.
I’ve also written books for teen girls, 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know and Liked, used widely across the U.S. for small group studies. To keep up with future posts, subscribe to this blog or join me on Facebook, Instagram, and the Girl Mom podcast
Posted by Kari on June 21, 2020