Day 1: Emotions
The topic of racism is awash with emotion: from anger to sorrow and shock to distress; but some of the most prevalent feelings both expressed and discussed are fear, shame and guilt. For some, these emotions paralyse them, stunting their ability to speak or act for fear of saying the wrong thing. For others, it can fuel self-righteousness and performative acts distracting them from the fight for biblical justice that flows from the heart of God.
As we reflect on personal experiences of racism and prejudice in different areas of our lives, we might question ourselves to understand our thoughts and motives, the part we have actively or passively played, or the benefits we have gained from this insidious sin. In doing so, the Holy Spirit might bring conviction highlighting ignorance, attitudes or behaviours. On our journey of sanctification, there are two responses to the revelation of sin. Paul touches on this in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 saying “For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
Conviction is godly. It is the voice of the Holy Spirit calling us to a higher standard. The worldly grief that Paul speaks of is the voice of condemnation usually attached to the feelings of guilt, shame and fear. We must be on guard against condemnation.
Racism is a sin as it dishonours the intrinsic worth that God bestows on us. Our very skin is a canvas expressing God's creativity. Each of us is an integral part of God's masterpiece and without you, without me, and without our neighbour, we would not be the beautifully interwoven piece of art that we are. He made no mistake in creating us with different attributes—this is one of the most beautiful traits of the body of Christ.
Biblical justice elevates truth and scripture tells us that the wrong of racism is not greater than the work of Christ. Though racism is evil, it is not unforgivable. For every area of sin, the all-encompassing work of Christ removes our shame, blots out our guilt, and delivers us from fear as “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The Holy Spirit that brings conviction is also the One that leads us to repentance restoring our relationships with God and each other.
As Christians, it is critical that we are not only taking part in conversations about racism, but leading these conversations—amplifying the truth found in God's word and not carried by the weight of our emotions. We must allow God to renew our minds as He washes it with His word. As you start this devotional, take some time today to prepare your heart for what God wants to speak to you.
How does the topic of racism make you feel when you think about it? Take those emotions to God in prayer.
Pray for conviction and against condemnation; pray for an open heart.
Pray against shame, fear, and guilt and their paralysing effects in this issue.