In the past month, our country has undergone an enormous amount of upheaval. From ongoing displays of murderous racism jeopardizing the safety of African Americans even in houses of worship to relentless court battles over marriage equality for those who are seeking to have their love legitimized once and for all, our individual presuppositions and our world views have come under attack. How are we to navigate through the quagmire of injustice, discrimination and inequality? How are we to conduct ourselves in the valley of the shadow of death? How are we, as God’s image bearers, to sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
Ezekiel 33:10 (NIV) – “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying, “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”
We find ourselves bombarded with images of protests, riots and demonstrations. Billboards and cardboard signs reflect the growing numbers of disenfranchised people groups fighting for basic human needs: the right to love; to live and to matter. Only 152 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, we are still singing ‘freedom’ songs. We are still marching for civil rights; we are still enduring voting rights discrepancies. While technically, we are free from the bondages of institutionalized slavery and we have won the right to vote and to love who and how we want, there are still vestiges of captivity which impinge upon human rights.
The days of Jim Crow, by way of the modern-day confederate flag, have experienced a new resurgence of glory. White men and women are fighting for their right to protect ‘the symbol of the old South’ and all of its dehumanizing practices which resulted in the lynching, torture, bombing and shooting of its African American citizens.
The offenses and the sins of historical and present-day racism and discrimination are weighing us down and we, as a nation, are wasting away because of this. How then can we live?
It is only through the Spirit of God that we can rid ourselves of the ‘bitter chastening rod’ of anger and despair when we see our nation succumbing to the lure of hate crimes and domestic terrorism with increasing fervor. But God has given his reply to the question of devalued life in Ezekiel 33:11, where He says: “Say to the House of Israel (to my beloved people): ‘As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his evil way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O House of Israel?’”
Our hearts’ cry should mirror that of God’s when he begs His people to turn from evil and wickedness; turn from the murderous spirit of generational racism; turn from stone-throwing and name-calling; turn from political polarization which leads to a divided nation; turn from gender and sexual orientation discrimination; turn from bitterness and hatred; turn from embracing lies about yourselves and others; turn from only giving God lip-service but not heartfelt worship; turn, turn from your evil ways. For why should we as Christ-followers die as a result of our sins, when Jesus was the atonement for the evils of mankind? How shall we then live? Through the power of Jesus Christ, we live. And it is only by Him and through Him that we can truly demonstrate complete love for all.
Wanda G. Anderson