Day 2: Humanity
The last century alone has witnessed the Holocaust in Europe, segregation in the USA, apartheid in South Africa, the Cambodian genocide, the genocide of the Tutsies in Rwanda, and many more. Committing atrocities against another human being requires dehumanizing them: seeing yourself as superior and the other as inferior, until you see them as less than human. These “crimes against humanity” often have racism at their source as the intrinsic value of life has been denied.
We might wonder how we would have acted had we been present during those times. We may believe that we would not have fallen for these racist ideologies but stood up for those oppressed, and resisted unjust government orders. Those of us who were not there cannot confidently say how we would have acted and speculating won’t change history.
Though we know that many Christians stood up for justice during these times, we must not forget that many others who called themselves Christians embraced racist ideologies, and even used religion and the Bible to legitimise their actions. These crimes against humanity were only the tip of the iceberg of the deep rooted sin of racism.
Looking at history should humble us and shatter all pride we might have about human goodness. It is a striking reminder of the sin within us all, the grace we so desperately need, and the call on our lives to watch out for any sin of racism that would want to entangle us. Just as “a little yeast leavens the whole dough” (Galatians 5:9), we cannot tolerate any grains of racism taking root in our hearts as it will corrupt our whole being.
Both as individuals and as the Church, we need to face the past and must not shy away from it in order to learn from it, to individually and collectively repent, to seek justice and reparations for the wrong done, and to choose to act justly going forward.
Matthew 7:3-5 encourages us to look at the issues in our lives before looking at the issues in others. “...First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” We must start by tackling racism within us before we can take action to change the systems around us. This is a struggle against principalities and powers, systems and structures but there is also a significant work that God desires to do in our human hearts and minds.
Ask God to reveal unnoticed racism in your heart and life. Consider how you might have taken advantage of a position of privilege, and how you might have been blinded to the discrimination and injustice affecting others.
Examine your heart to understand what leads you to think of other people groups negatively or to nurture seeds of racism. Are you driven by fear? Envy? Jealousy? Love of money? Selfishness?
Consider your next steps and how you can come alongside those oppressed and discriminated against to seek justice.