All of it makes me want to scream — or weep.
“What is going on?!? What’s happening to us?!?” serious-minded, clear-thinking Americans are asking in response to all that’s been transpiring since the horrific events in Charlottesville, Va., the weekend of Aug. 11-13. And, it would seem there is no singular, clear answer to such questions.
Truly, there are multiple issues in all of this. And, of course, different “experts” have different opinions and different solutions to the problems. However, from a Scriptural, reasonable standpoint it seems fairly easy to boil all of this down to its simple essence.
First, regardless of what we think or believe, history is history. Some of it is good, while some of it is downright disgraceful. But, such is the nature of life here in a fallen, sinful world. And, no amount of bemoaning or decrying it is going to change any of it: it is what it is—the good, the bad and the ugly.
Thus, the current outcry against Confederate flags and statues of Confederate soldiers is really an attempt to either erase history or, in a strange sort of way, revive it. In reality, those are visible, tangible reminders of our past—as sordid as they may be — and are basically “neutral,” inanimate objects UNLESS we choose to impose our views (good or bad) upon them.
Simply put, it could be Gen. Robert E. Lee’s statue, erected some 93 years ago in Charlottesville, was a way of honoring a Virginia native who couldn’t bear the thought of fighting against his home state. In reality, history shows that was his real motive in leaving the Union Army and joining the Confederacy, not his love of slavery.
Thus, to go on a rabid rampage of destroying or relocating historical monuments is, in reality, no different than ISIS’ destruction of thousands of years old archaeological structures in the Middle East. And, instead of promoting unity and harmony, it only incites/invites further intolerance, violence and hatred.
None of us living today were around during the Civil War. None of us were guilty of owning slaves; yet, it would seem that there’s a reviving and reliving of those painful parts of our past today by KKK/white supremacist marches and counter protests like “Black Lives Matter.”
As I’ve said before, it’s not a black-or-white issue; it’s a sinful heart issue.
When hatred is allowed to flourish and bloom in the hotbed of the heart, it’ll always manifest itself in violence and man’s inhumanity to man (e.g., of van attack in Barcelona). Truly, anyone who feels he/she is superior to anyone else for any reason—and treats others with contempt or violence—is guilty of sinful pride and the negation of true Love.
That’s why the Apostle John said “Anyone who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness and knows not where he’s going because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (I Jn. 2:11). He also added “Whosoever hates his brother is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (I Jn. 3:15). And, for good measure, he then said “If a man says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar” (I Jn. 4:20).
Thus, it’s clear Love—true, God-type Love—is that which accepts a person as he/she is and doesn’t harbor unforgiveness in his/her heart. That’s why those who incite unrest and resort to violence or bloodshed are spiritually blind and dead and “the Truth is not in them” (I Jn. 1:8; 2:4).
Therefore, as a fellow American, I am grieved by all of this. During the Civil War, some 600,000 lives were lost. Why? Because the abolitionists were right and no one should own a fellow human being? Or, was much of it because of money, unfair taxation and a fear of losing one’s livelihood?
The answer is “All of the above.”
However, after 150 years it would seem we’ve learned nothing from history and the sinful heart of hatred is still alive-and-well. And, no amount of tearing down or relocating statues…burning or banning flags…education or economic reforms can change that.
Only the Lord God Almighty can do that. Help us, O Lord (II Chronicles 7:14).
NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org).