I confess. Black History Month is bittersweet for me since I started the new year doing a self-assessment of my relationship with Christ. This year, I chose to focus more on February as love month.
Recalling the brutality, and seeing the senseless and inhumane treatment of people who deserved to be treated equally as created by their Creator is gut-wrenching. The hatred, ignorance and depraved mindset of the perpetrators pierces my heart and triggers initial thoughts that are not Christlike. I have to immediately bring them into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Yes! I confess!
What’s really sad is that many of those who participated in the horrible acts of violence and brutality, even against children, professed to be Christians and felt justified in their actions. To say they were merely ignorant is not an excuse. It goes deeper! Whether then or now, heinous crimes and violence against another human being of any nationality, religion, or culture points to the core of character—the condition of the heart.
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” (Jeremiah 17:9).
I certainly recognize Black History Month and most definitely appreciate and value the major contributions made by those who sacrificed their lives in the fight for civil rights. I respect the great men and women who stood in the face opposition for years fighting for freedom and civil rights. They endured persecution, assaults and degradation. Love for their own lives did not make them afraid to die. They were courageous in their pursuit of dignity and freedom. They had unwavering faith . They had to have seen beyond their present situation, as horrible as it was, and dreamed of a better future for generations to come. We are that generation!
Still, when I look at the black and white photos of the past, it triggers something within me that causes me to question where I am in my relationship with Christ, specifically His command to love—love your enemies.
"You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." -Matthew 5:43-45
Now, I understand that agape love is fundamental to a transformed life through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus made it clear:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
If there is a lack of love for God and others, that is produced by the Holy Spirit, the heart is filled with fear and dread. This results in ungodly behavior and evil acts against others. When individuals are driven by their fears it is easy to become agents of evil. If there is fear in one’s heart, they are deceived into thinking and believing they are doing what is right, but the reasons are self-centeredness and self-gratification. This is because the heart is not filled with the perfect (complete) love of the Father that causes one to love God and others. Fear has torment and when there is torment, it is the sinful (wicked) condition of the heart that causes others to devalue life. Basically, one’s fear of God’s punishment causes them to judge and punish their fellow man unfairly, especially if they are threatened or intimidated by them, which is also a form of fear.
“No fear exists where His love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear, because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love.” (1 John 4:18 GW).
So, again during Black History Month, as I look at the reminders of the painful and dark past in America, I am challenged to evaluate my relationship with God, confess my faults, ask for forgiveness, count on His forgiveness and allow the Holy Spirit to produce “perfect” love in me as I witness the reappearance of racism and injustice.
©2019 Queen E. Phillips. All rights reserved.