Looking at our world today it seems as if a war between ethnic groups has begun and, sadly, they are largely correct. However, this is not just a worldly problem between unbelievers. This point of contention has infiltrated the walls and hearts of the church. Men and women who claim both to know and love God are aggressively seeking to bring down an entire ethnic group under the guise of “social justice” (1 John 4:20). What they miss is that their actions are not a form of justice, but revenge. It is not a matter of reconciliation, but one of retaliation.
Why are they doing this? The simple answer is because they have allowed the heinous crimes of the past to feed in them a spirit of bitterness and contempt towards those who had nothing to do with what they are fighting against. Yet that is often how it goes in our lives. We tend to take out our frustrations upon others who were not even involved. This is something we must actively guard against.
The wrongs done in the past were terrible, but they must remain in the past because, as we continue to allow these awful thoughts to fester in our minds, we are giving ourselves over to their control. When we continue to live as if these atrocities are happening to us today, we are enslaving ourselves to a victim mentality. Lives are being dragged off in bondage and captivity and we do not even realize that we are slaves to our own hurts.
Philippians 4:4-9 tells us that we should be setting our minds on good, wholesome and freeing things. Why? Because the Apostle Paul recognized that the human life is governed and maintained through six intakes: seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, thinking and speaking. The things that we set our minds and hearts on will eventually come out of our mouths (Matt. 15:18) and, whether we realize it or not, we are being formed by the words we say. The person we will become in the future is dependent upon our thoughts and actions now.
What if God held the sins of someone else against you? How would that make you feel? Well, that is what many Christians are doing today. They are holding the crimes of past generations upon the heads of the current generation and demanding restitution. Yet, they fail to realize that not only did the current generation have nothing to do with the past but also that their personal lust for more money, more prestige, more benefits and more stuff will never be satisfied. Even if an entire ethnic group was completely wiped out, they would still find something to complain about and their sinful cravings would still demand more. No amount of money, free land, free housing, free food, free education or other handouts will ever “be enough” because what is the price for forgiveness? Is there a price to excuse the mistakes of the past? There shouldn’t be, but compensations like these would make us think otherwise. It is important to realize that the problem with our flesh is that it is never satisfied.
I would actually recommend that Christians of minority groups refuse to accept free handouts because of what these benefits are doing to our society. I know I am asking a lot but think about the greater good which is the advancement of the Gospel. It would be hard to give up free money, but that is the point because living a Gospel-centered life is meant to be hard. The reason I say this is because the benefits that certain groups receive simply because of their skin color both exalts some minority groups over others and continues to feed the victim mentality that so many people today are accustomed to have.
Learning from History
I am not saying that we should forget the past or attempt to rewrite it in any way. That would be absurd because we are meant to learn from history. However, I am saying that we are not to allow ourselves to be consumed and controlled by the things that happened so long ago. I think about all of the Western men and women who fought both for the freedom of slaves and the restitution to be made for the Native American Indians. I think about all of the godly men and women who are actively fighting against the extermination of the young and the old [current monstrosities such as abortion and medically forced suicide].
In the past, it has been Christians who have led the way and were the examples of offering forgiveness to the oppressors. Corrie Ten Boom and Kim Phuc Phan are two excellent examples. Corrie Ten Boom’s family was exterminated by the Nazis. Kim Phuc Phan suffered life-altering injuries from napalm as a child. The world, and regrettably some in the Church, would look at both women and tell them that they were entitled to be bitter, to receive compensation, and to champion the destruction of those who had done them wrong. But what do we know actually happened? Corrie Ten Boom traveled the world with the message of forgiveness and called on her countrymen to forgive the Germans. Kim Phuc Phan tells her story of forgiving the Vietnam government and other specific individuals and how she has come to see God’s grace and purpose in the midst of suffering.
The Proclamation of the Gospel
Yes, slavery was a terrible reality, and many Native American tribes suffered at great costs, but keep in mind what God’s Word says in Philippians 4:4-9. Men meant these things for evil, but God meant them for good (Gen. 50:20). The end result of Westerners crossing the sea in 1492 and then bringing millions of men, women and children from the countries of Africa was predetermined in God’s mind so that billions of people would receive the glorious Gospel of God’s grace. The Native American Indians, as well as the Native Africans, did not know anything about Jesus Christ and what He did for them until the Word of God was brought to them. Yes, it came through the hands of sinful men, but ultimately God’s grace was displayed to even more people because of His Awesome Sovereignty over the nations (Acts 17:26).
Who will be the next great example of forgiveness that future generations will hold in high esteem? From the outside it looks like the war of the racial groups has begun, but the real battle has nothing to do with race. As Christians, we do not wrestle against the pigment of one’s skin or even their genealogical identity. The real conflict being waged is between the Church and the spiritual forces of evil (Eph. 6:12). That being said, we should not leave our brothers and sisters to live out their lives in victimized bondage when Christ has called them to so much more!