Anger is in style. For so long the urge to rigorously emote an often justifiable yet violent sense of injustice has been suppressed in human souls. We are seeing the eruption and the ash falling on all of us.
Perhaps it was that the hurting never felt like they were sincerely heard and understood. At the same time maybe the gates of hell have opened allowing demons to sniff out these wounds like rats sniff out garbage.
The violence and chaos that that has presented itself ever since 2001 seems new, but it’s not. It’s been here all the time. It was muzzled but the muzzles have been chewed off. Forgiveness and mercy is passé.
I believe the problem was one of suppression. Social etiquette taught us to smile but hide behind our manners. The hurt and anger was always there, popping up in jokes and funny jabs, caricatures and stereotypes. Comedians gave us permission to laugh when we wanted to cry or yell. No one is laughing now. Hate has come out of hiding.
Some whites sincerely didn’t like the end of slavery, go figure. They really believe that they are being taken over by other ethnic groups. I don’t get it, but it’s true. They’ve suppressed their anger and fear until now. Likewise some black and other minorities are tired of not only systematic and institutional racism, but also of individual encounters with these white people. Some of these white and black Americans, have stayed segregated and have no one of another race to call friend. Some don’t want that blessing. They just want to unleash their suppressed anger.
1 John 2:11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
If we truly believe that humanity is a band of brothers of every tribe and tongue, then there is a disconnect between our belief and reality. While there are those in our present day who would say that some humans are genetically inferior than others, most of us shake our heads and ignore their utter stupidity and warped need for self-adulation.
The problem is that most of us, as a band of human brothers have forgotten what it means to acknowledge the harsh truth of sin and the valid yet difficult answer of forgiveness. We’ve also forgotten that in our hearts all of us have hated at one time or another and that in truth, we are no better than our filial enemies.
Sin is also passé but there is no other reason that a darkened heart will stomp into a city, full of hate and vengeance, bringing fear and disarray to the residents. There is no other reason for people to loot and destroy their own communities or kill another person because they look or believe differently. Sin. Sin is evil.
Evil is really evil and surely, around us all lurch invisible creatures ready and willing to take advantage of our imperfect sense of humanity.
My mother answered a post that my husband wrote with these words: “Mostly what we see is “PREJUDICE” — something we all as humans have. We PRE-JUDGE PEOPLE. We connote things about people that we don’t know, from a distance. Prejudice in its highest levels dovetails into Racism. But for most of us, prejudging is part of life and is eradicated when we get to know people individually and see each person’s own uniqueness. Prejudice is in our DNA in order to maintain our safety until we know who the person is. It is Stranger Anxiety based on outside appearances. It is understandable. Prejudice can be defeated by conversation and community — by putting on someone else’s skin and walking around in it. (Harper Lee – To Kill a Mockingbird.) Prejudice is solvable in communities, in families, and in the individual. Because Love never fails.”
So much truth exists in these statements. This past Sunday, I sat in a row with my husband, son and daughter, as well as two of my dearest friends. One is white the other is Latino. I am black. We get along great. I’m sure we get looks when we are in public. Three races. Three sisters in Christ. Love never fails. In the sermon, my pastor reminded us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. This is a great truth to dwell on. The fact that He chose to put on human skin and live as a human should bring us all a sense of wonder and realization that God truly desires to understand and know us. He created us in his image. He made us breathing souls that need each other to prosper. When we see a stranger, we must struggle to remind ourselves, despite the normal sense of self-protection and subconscious pre-judging, to acknowledge that this stranger is also made in the image of God and therefore deserves respect and dignity.
The challenge comes when we are wronged. When I was young, my mother used to say, “The pot can’t call the kettle black”. If you are not familiar with this statement, let me explain: both the pot and the kettle are black; made from the same materials. When someone hates us and boosts in their hatred, should we feel the pain of the intentional wound. Yes! However, in our pain, we must find the courage to acknowledge our own past or present sinful attitudes and realize that these haters are trapped in the cell of sin. That’s all it is. It’s painful but it’s the treachery of living in the dark. They can’t see. They are blinded by their sin. We’ve all been blinded by sin before.
Forgiveness won’t put these brutal dogs back in their cages but it will certainly keep us from being caught in their traps. In our nation, people have the right to speak whatever they want. I honor that right. It allows me to write a public post and mention the Christian term “sin.” However, when violence ensues, then justice must happen. When a hater becomes a shooter or when a protester becomes a looter, they’ve crossed the line and punishment is their just reward. But you and I, can stay free from their jail cell by not suppressing… but acknowledging our own pain and anger, and then forgiving them for their evil intents. Forgiveness is not forgetting. The Bible says that we can be angry and not sin. There is an anger that is not sinful. I believe it’s undergirded by forgiveness. Forgiveness unleashes us from the demonic traps of the haters. Forgiveness is accepting the reality of their blindness. Forgiveness cures. Forgiveness reminds us that we too, have needed to be forgiven.
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