BY LEAD PASTOR KURT TRUCKSESS
CROSSWINDS CHURCH OF SPIRIT LAKE
As a country, we have witnessed astounding acts of injustice. We saw the cruelty of police officers who misused their authority to take the life of George Floyd. In response, we watched the looting, rioting, and burning of our cities. Over 700 police officers were injured, some killed. Huge numbers of police were defunded in order to weaken their ability to provide law, order, and protection.
What is the way forward in this turmoil? What will bring people of different races together?
The problem before us is called racism. For the moment, I ask we set aside that term and look at the root of the issue, which is pride. Pride is thinking of ourselves as better than others. It is using our position of authority to hurt or demean others. Isn't this what happened to George Floyd? Prideful police used their authority not to serve and protect, but to oppress and kill. The police officers that killed George Floyd were not humble servants. They were prideful abusers.
Pride isn’t limited to the police. Isn't pride also the root of the rioting in our cities? Rioters realized that if they gathered in large enough numbers, they gained power and couldn't be stopped. Using the power of numbers, they exuded pride. They considered themselves better than others. They became abusive toward others. They burned businesses that took years of hard work to build. They stole property. They wounded and killed police. This violence did not come from humble people but from prideful people who used their power to ruin life, not give life.
In response to the violence, our country has seen many initiatives for racial equality. I fear, they will be short-lived. Most of them are not driven out of genuine compassion for the poor and racially oppressed. They are driven out of fear and cultural pressure.
I say this is because pride at its root motives people out of fear. It always tears people apart. When changes are made from fear and cultural pressure, they are only external and short-lived. It is only when changes take place as a result of humility that they last.
Think of this in your own life. Do you enjoy spending time around a prideful person who thinks they are better than others? If a prideful person misuses their position of power, and they bully you, you may go along with their wishes but that is only external conformity designed to placate their request and avoid conflict. It isn’t a lasting change in the heart. Placating people out of fear actually leaves people further apart at the end of the day, not drawn together in love for one another.
We are only drawn to humble people. We are drawn to people who genuinely care about us and our interests. We are drawn to people who consider us more significant than themselves. When we are around humble people, our behavior toward them changes from the inside out. We admire them. We respect them. We love them. That change is not just external, but it is change from the heart. It is change that lasts.
If the root of the problem on both sides of the issue is pride, and the only solution is humility, how do we move forward? How can we replace the pride in our hearts with humility? The answer is Jesus. Pride is sin. When sin is the problem, Jesus is always the answer.
It is the good news of Jesus that changes our hearts. Jesus convicts us of pride and makes us humble. It is the good news that God loves us. God sent his own Son to die for our sin. When we ask Jesus to forgive our sin, and ask Jesus' death on the cross to pay for our sin, the Bible says we are born again. Being born again is not just something that changes our eternity. The Bible tells us that faith in Jesus changes our life and our heart now! God makes us into a new person from the inside out when we trust in Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17). As a new person, He changes our character to be more like Jesus. Jesus was the humblest person to walk the earth. As we become more like Jesus, we become humbler people who genuinely care about others, not just ourselves.
Philippians 2 tells us what the humility of Christ looks like in everyday life. It is considering other people more significant than ourselves and looking out for their interests, not just our own. Humility is what brings racial divisions together, not pride and violence.
In the ancient world, there were racial divisions much deeper than the racial divide we see today. One of the deepest divisions was between the Jews and the Gentiles. Jews and Gentiles despised one another. If a Gentile dared to enter the temple courtyard, it was standard practice for them to be killed by a Jewish mob.
The book of Acts is the story of God spreading the church to the ends of the world. In Acts, we learn Jesus is not just the savior of Jewish people, but of all people. As the savior of all people, Jesus breaks down the racial divide that keeps people apart.
This is why Galatians 3:28 tells us that in the church there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free. We are all united as one through Jesus Christ. This is why Revelation 7 pictures heaven as a place where people from every nation, tribe, language, and people will gather around the throne of God worshipping Jesus. Jesus is the one who unites people of all races together. The Jesus who brings us is together is bigger than the racial differences that tear us apart. Jesus also replaces the pride in our heart, that leads us to think of ourselves as better than others, with humility from His heart ,that leads us to think of others as more significant than ourselves.
What is the way forward? It is not pride, violence, bullying, and fear. The changes that come through fear and violence are only temporary. The only way forward is for the pride in our hearts to be replaced with humility, so we consider others better than ourselves. Humility is what draws people together. There is only one place truly humble hearts are found. That is through a relationship with Jesus.
The only way to a lasting change in our world is not politics, violence, and fear. It is replacing prideful hearts with humble loving hearts that can only come through Jesus.