Reflection – 9th June 2020
Over this past weekend, Britain has seen numerous demonstrations and other protests organized by the pressure group, #Black Lives Matter, in response to the killing of a black civilian by a white police officer in Minneapolis, USA, which has caused immense grief, outrage and anger, as the killing has been perceived to be a particularly nasty piece of racism and is a part of the entire problem of racial tensions which has bedevilled the history of the USA.
Although Britain is a racially much more tolerant country, that is not to say that we are without our own underlying tensions and racism, in spite of great progress over the last forty years. There are still racist attitudes around in society and many people feel that they need to take a stand against them and protest, although whether criminal acts are thereby justified is another matter entirely.
As Christians, of course, we are entirely opposed to racism, which is a pernicious evil that ultimately denies the full humanity of our fellow human beings. We must always be opposed to such attitudes, precisely because God created all human beings, without exception, in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27) and because Christ died for all, black, white, brown, yellow or green with purple spots. All are equal and potential or actual adopted children of God, so there can be no possibility of racism as a Christian world-view.
Yet in all of this there is a fundamentally important element. Racism, sexism and all other means of denigrating others, for whatever reason, stem from our human fallenness, our sinfulness. It is our alienation from God and his plan for us, manifested in various ways, which is at the root of our problem. Unless we recognize this we will fail utterly to make any progress in improving the human lot. Sure, we may succeed in overcoming the evils of racism but we would just replace those with the equally great evil of hatred for those with whom we disagree. It is hatred for anyone, no matter what the excuse, that is actually the real manifestation of the rottenness of our being. Christ’s radical demand is that we love our enemies, pray for them and forgive them – and these are not some vague aspirations, but an absolute demand.
It is only in Christ that we can overcome our divisions, realize our true humanity and reach out for that destiny for which we are all created – true life in and with God, which is a very real lesson we can take from Sunday’s Feast. It is in the Being of God, to whom we are united through Christ that we overcome all the divisions and tensions of this world.