Our racist past, murderous present, and eternal hope

Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Tomorrow is another anniversary. I post this in between intentionally.

I’ve been reminded in recent days about the sinfulness of sin when it comes to racism, particularly in this country. The 2011 film The Help has been playing on TNT in recent days, and it is one of the favorite films my wife and I can agree on. It’s just a wonderfully told story, a period piece of the South in the 1960s. It’s absolutely infuriating at times. That final scene where Abilene gets fired comes to mind. But more than that, it angers me that my parents’ and grandparents’ generations not only condoned such behavior, but took part in it.

That righteous anger was reinforced when my wife and I rented the recent film The Butler from Redbox the other night. It is the story of an African-American boy who sees his mother taken away to be raped and then his father killed before his eyes by a stereotypical white Southern plantation owner. He becomes a house servant and eventually leaves, circumstance taking him to the employ of the White House, where he serves from the Eisenhower administration into Reagan’s second term.

The film is engaging until it absolutely comes apart in the final twenty minutes, when it strips off all pretense and reveals itself to be little more than a propaganda piece. Even so, the depictions of racism are real, particularly in the scenes where the butler’s son is a participant in receiving ridicule, injury, and arrest because of the color of his skin. Righteous anger wells up.

I start to be thankful for how far it seems our country has come in such a short time on race. To be sure, America has seen its citizen push forward in several ways to realize the key ideal of Dr. King’s most famous speech, that men are judged not by the color of their skin but the content of their character.

I start to be thankful, but then I consider how many African-American children were slain yesterday, and will be today, before they ever take a breath. I remember that tomorrow is the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. I remember that the religion of abortion has a temple called Planned Parenthood, and its Solomon, Margaret Sanger, built it to eradicate the black race from Harlem. I remember, and I lament.

We still have so far to go.

And yet I have joy… and hope, for I remember what Paul said to the Athenians in Acts 17:24-27:

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;  nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;  and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.

To quote another Pauline phrase, creation groans. We groan within ourselves, but not without hope. Jesus has made us all. There really is only one race — the human race — and Jesus saves sinners in that race from the consequences of their sin every day. One day He will return and make all things well. Until then, we grope for Him, knowing that the days are evil, but salvation is here… and coming.

While we wait for that great day, let us contend to abhor the very idea of racism, and the very idea of abortion, for they are both broadsides in the spirit of Satan against the very image of the One we were created in (Gen 1:26-27).