Very few people would ever admit, at least publicly, that they have racist thoughts or tendencies. Truth is, the majority of people—black, brown or white—are not racists. Yet we know racism exists in our society, in our justice system, and unfortunately even in our churches. By the way, racism is not something that just exists in white people. Black, brown, and people of all shades can be racist, too.
Martin Luther King Jr said: 11am on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in our country. The reason that is troubling is that it speaks to an issue that may not dwell on the surface but lives beneath it.
In other words, you might not be racist, but the ideas and thoughts, perpetuated in our society, by media and otherwise, can impact the way you feel about people of other races. That’s why if Jesus was here, the first thing he would want you to do is examine your heart.
This means...consider the conversations you have, not when everyone is watching, but in your private moments. Whether you are at the dinner table, in your living room, or in places you know you can speak freely and no one is watching or listening. Those moments will reveal everything that is in your heart.
Here is what Jesus said:
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. – Luke 6:45
So, how do you examine your heart? Take a moment to answer these five questions:
1. How do your conversations about race go when you are in a “safe space?”
2. What did you say when you heard another black man was killed by a police officer?
3. Did it change when you saw the video?
4. What did you say about the people who were marching to protest what happened to George Floyd?
5. What did you say about the small group of people who were seen rioting, looting, burning police cars, and destroying small businesses?
Again, don’t think about what you said publicly, what was in your heart? What did you say in those secret places?
By the way, these questions are not just aimed at white people. These questions are for every person of every race. I know these aren’t easy questions to answer (especially if we want to be completely honest) but if we are going to heal racism in our society these are the types of questions that need to be addressed.
The problem isn’t the conversations you have when you are out in the world. The problem is the conversations you have when you are in your home. What are you saying then?
A pastor I know from a very popular church (if I mentioned the name you'd immediately recognize him) said he's been invited to speak at various places. Often, prior to the service, they would gather in the green room and natural conversations would take place. He said he was shocked by the things he heard. There were disturbing discourses and off-color jokes about people of different races. He thought this was absolutely appalling to the point where he questioned if these men even knew Jesus.
Now, none of these men would stand in the pulpit and say these things publicly. But the fact that they did it “behind closed doors” revealed what’s in their heart. If we want our society to heal from racism we have to deal with the attitudes of the heart. We need to pray open and honest prayers like David did in the Psalms:
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. – Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
Let’s not assume these attitudes don’t exist within us. Let’s go before God and let him reveal to us if these attitudes actually exist within us. If he should point out anything, we need to repent—and ask for grace to begin to change them.
Healing racism in our country will not happen until there is a change of heart. This is the starting point.
Jesus knows that if he can change the heart, the man will follow. As Proverbs 23:7 reminds us as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. The question I have for you then is what is in your heart?
When we solve the problem of the heart we are well on our way to healing from racism.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/wildpixel