She is holding the hand-drawn message, scrawled out on a large piece of cardboard, at a corner of my town’s main intersection, along with two dozen others who are protesting the latest racial injustice. As I drive toward her, I am surprised to read, “black is a crime!”
My mind is still processing this improbable sentiment when I pass her and see the part of her cardboard that has been unwittingly folded back. “Being black is not a crime!”
It strikes me how this is a picture of our human condition. We are so unaware of the messages we give, despite our intentions. Who can know how our own prejudices blind us?
Isaiah speaks of a future day when all this will be changed. A coming king will reign in righteousness. Under him, human leaders will all rule with justice. Within this structure, transformation will flourish:
Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed,
and the ears of those who hear will listen.
The mind of the rash will know and understand,
and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear. (Isaiah 32:3-4)
We would go a long way toward opening a dialogue in our current crisis if each of us were able to say, I am blind to your situation, deaf to your perspective, quick to make assumptions and inarticulate. But far too often, we are trapped by our own need to be right. No one wants to hold up a sign that reads, “I am part of the problem!”
The answer is the coming king. When Jesus’s cousin, John the Baptist, sent messengers to get confirmation from Jesus that he was “the one who is to come,” Jesus pointed to the effect of his ministry: “…the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” (Luke 7:22)
These were physical transformations. But each malady mentioned has a spiritual counterpart, a product of our sin-forged bent toward self. Only Jesus can heal that.
It is time for the church to live this out. We live under the rule of the righteous king. We have been redeemed from our slavery to self. We should be the first to listen. To observe. To think before speaking. And to work tirelessly for the benefit of others.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
That’s the message I have to wrap around my stubborn heart today.
Lord, help us, your people, to set the tone in our troubled world. You taught us to pray, “your kingdom come.” Help us, in humility, to bring that kingdom in even a small way this week. Give us eyes that see and ears to hear, minds that understand and lips that speak.
Reader: What insight has God given you in the past week?