While we were at Alive last week, there was yet another open reminder of the wound of racism in our nation. A young man attended a Bible study in a black church, and after a short time of demonizing black people, he opened fire and killed 9 people. It is nothing short of tragic, plain and simple. Sadly, we've been having too many of these tragedies lately. Anyone who thinks we don't have a race problem in our country at this point is just ignoring the facts. We have a serious conversation ahead of us.
But what shocks me is that our country has taken the same approach to dealing with race problems that I often take with cleaning out my car: find a distraction that will keep you from the task at hand as long as humanly possible. Cleaning out my car can be a project that frequently involves fixing roof racks, organizing gear in the garage, or even last week filling up the fish pond in our front yard. As long as I can somehow trace it back to "I was cleaning my car, but then I started doing this, so it's sort of related..." I can feel fine about myself. Friends, the truth is that this is exactly what we're doing, because all we can talk about right now is this:
Now please, don't misunderstand me: I think the flag has to go. It is for so many Americans a symbol of hatred and violence that it really has no place flying in any kind of official government capacity. I've been on board with taking the flag down for years. But that's not the conversation we should be having right now.
We should be having a conversation about forgiveness and repentance. We should be having a conversation about why so many African Americans still live in poverty, and what role those of us who are white play in that cycle whether we realize it or not. We should be having a conversation about how violent we are towards each other, and what we can do through our legal system to limit these violent outbursts. We should be having a conversation about Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, and how there is absolutely no way that anyone who claims to be a follower of The Way could participate in this kind of hate. We should be having those conversations. But the flag is the low hanging fruit. It's so easy that we think that once the flag is taken down from that pole that the race problem will be solved. We've taken our eye off the ball, and we as a nation need to do better.
I could see things starting to get better soon. At some point we will reach a breaking point, forcing us to deal with our issues rather than putting them off until tomorrow. Eventually the car gets so full of junk that we can't drive it any more. But take it from me. It would be substantially easier to deal with it now rather than let it pile up.
Come, Lord Jesus.