The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Like many other cities, Louisville is reeling in the aftermath of the injustices of recent days. Our nation is rightly outraged about the killing of individuals at the hands of those whose job it was to protect them. Closest to home was Breonna Taylor, a young EMS worker, shot by police in her own Louisville apartment in March.
In recent days and nights the streets have been filled with mourners, grieving the senseless deaths, but more than that, grieving that our system that was supposed to uphold liberty and equality is still poisoned with such reckless and irrational acts.
Gatherings of concerned citizens started out as peaceful, constructive demonstrations. But each night the people just wanting their voices to be heard were joined by outsiders who escalated the tensions and hijacked the event, until the city saw rampant vandalism, arson, and looting that had nothing to do with the original purpose of the gathering. As I watched events unfolding on live news, it was clear that many of those present cared nothing about Breonna Taylor or her family. Images of the latecomers showed smiling, chatting, laughing faces moving through the streets like a parade of athletes who had just won the pennant and were ready to celebrate. Behind one reporter an individual covered completely in black, including his face, wielded a hammer, systematically smashing every window he could reach. Recycling bins and other objects were in flames, and we wondered how attempting to set fire to the Muhammed Ali Center was supposed to benefit African Americans, when racial justice was the original stated purpose of the event.
Over the course of several nights, buildings were destroyed and businesses robbed of everything, many of them businesses owned by minorities. Innocent people saw years of their hard work go up in smoke. They watched helplessly as their possessions were hauled away by those who clearly cared nothing for the lives of their brothers and sisters but only saw an opportunity to get free stuff. People who had gathered to make their voices heard left more wounded than ever. After the battle, it seemed the only winners were racism, greed, and violence.
But racism, greed and violence are symptoms of a bigger problem: sin. Ever since the first man and woman disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, every human being born has inherited the same sin nature that first rebelled against the Creator.
Sin wants to feel superior to others because of color, gender, race, or any other random, irrelevant difference. Sin gives nothing and will do anything to get more – robbery, human trafficking, and dealing in substances that destroy the lives of others. Sin is OK with the suffering of others, as long as its own welfare is secure.
Sin wants all the attention and recognition and credit for every accomplishment. Sin will lie to gain popularity. It wants everyone’s approval and gets angry with anyone who disagrees. Sin doesn’t want to listen to others. Sin can’t be happy about the good fortune of someone else and may even rejoice to see others “get what they deserve,” ignoring the fact that we all deserve judgment.
You don’t need me to tell you that our society is broken and sick and desperately in need of a cure. But in the end that cure is not going to come in the form of a new law, program, better facilities, or any amount of money.
We should certainly strive for changes that make life better for others – shame on us if we don’t! Ultimately, however, we will never be able to root out the sin in the hearts of others – or even ourselves. We were born sinful, and the only way society can be changed is for individuals to be changed, from the inside out.
We need to be born again.
I stated that every human being born has had the sin nature of Adam. But there is one exception, and that’s Jesus. Without a human father, Jesus had the divine nature of His Father – God. He was both fully human and fully divine. (I know that’s hard to grasp, but stay with me here …) Jesus is the One who bridges the gap between unholy Man and a holy God. Sin (and racist or not, we all have sin in our lives) needs to be atoned for, and since only a perfect sacrifice is acceptable to God, the only One who could offer that perfect sacrifice is the perfect Man, Jesus. When He gave His life on the cross, He was paying the debt we couldn’t pay, so we could be forgiven, cleansed, filled with His Spirit, and given a new nature – not as perfect people, but people who desire to serve God in any way we are called to. First and foremost, serving God is loving Him, and loving others.
We need to admit our sin and need for a Savior, surrender our lives to Jesus, and ask Him to fill us with His Spirit. We won’t be instantly perfect, but He will set our lives on a different path when we repent. The word “repent” means “to change one’s mind.” As our minds are changed, our lives will be changed, as well.
Recent events have shined a spotlight on the depraved condition of the human race. To see these events unfold, one might think there is no hope for us as a society. But other events have been unfolding that are shining a light in the darkness. Stay tuned …
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are so quick to point fingers and rail against the blatant injustices we see around us. Our world is broken. But in our anguish we have failed to acknowledge our own sin. We’ve tried to right wrongs without Your help and only made a bigger mess of things. Bring us back to You, our Creator, who made us in Your image. Fill us with Your divine nature, and help us to be a light in all this darkness. Have mercy on us, in Jesus’ name. Amen.