The Lives that Matter
Change does not come easy and change only seems to come in two forms – good and bad. Whether you are standing at the crossroads looking for clear directions or just entering another season of pain and sorrow, to actually make the change requires a hint of courage, a lot of conviction, and a future hope. So it is with the racial tensions we face in our nation.
Looking back, I remember the mid-to-late 1970s as a black man in America. The Vietnam War was winding down and racial tensions were high, very similar to what we are experiencing today. As waves of minorities returned from the war, they soon discovered that acceptance and survival on the many fields of battle, did not equate to acceptance or any additional rights at home. Minorities who had fought side-by-side in previous world wars had echoed a similar welcome, yet, they had kept “hope alive” and eventually some change had come.
The journey to overcome this mountain called “inequality” has not been easy because we still have not reached the peak. Today, somewhere in between the chants of “black lives matter” and “all lives matter” lies an understanding that all lives do matter, AND the inequality of experience among black lives deserves our undivided attention. However, there’s more to the story – there is a deeper truth that must be understood if we ever hope to reach that peak.
I am reminded of a shipboard chaplain who would always open his prayers with these words, “O Lord, you created us for life together, but we have not followed your ways…” And that remains our “Achilles” heal today – we have not followed His ways.
In the very simplest of terms, every journey requires a starting point and a destination. Every climber must have a base camp in order to begin a climb to the summit; and every believer must come to the realization that it is not about them, rather, it is all about Him.
I remain confident about who I am when I reflect on four truths revealed in three scriptures.
Truth: We are all made in the image of God
Verse: Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” – Gen. 1:26 (NKJV)
Truth: We all originate from the same source
Verse: 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, – Acts 17:26 (NASB)
God loves all the lives in the world!
His Son died for all who place their trust in Him
Verse: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16 (NKJV)
We all have the same starting point. In God’s eyes, we are all made in His image, and He desires a relationship with us through His Son. In fact, the Bible tells us that He took the initiative – “But God demonstrates his own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom. 5:8/NKJV.
Therefore, I can say “I have value, first and foremost, not because of the color of my skin, but because God says I am valuable to Him!!
As I look to the future, I reflect on Paul’s reminder to us that the journey to our destination will not be easy. In fact, God’s plans for us are fraught with scenarios that would make you want to just stay home and maintain the status quo.
“We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed,” – 2 Cor. 4:8, 9 (NET)
Although they were doing God’s work, they experienced trouble. Trouble that brought them to their breaking point physically, yet, never left them alone spiritually. They endured, as Paul said – “Because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” – 2 Cor. 4:18/NET
I would like to think that Paul reflected often on God’s words to Joshua as he faced each trial. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9/NKJV).
The Great Commission was never meant to be a walk through the park. We are all just instructed to “Go…” with the settled confidence that God’s grace will be sufficient for each and every scenario we will face along the way as we strive to love one another well.
God intends for us to see as He sees and recognize that if all of us matter to Him, then everyone should matter to us. And where inequality abounds, loving one another as He loves us should abound all the more. He alone knows our hearts in this matter.
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