Sunday, January 25, 2009

Racism in Reverse - Rick Warren's Prayer

On my previous blog entry I discussed Rick Warren's inauguration prayer for Barack Obama and in particular his mention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Some readers may argue that this blog is taking on a political bent. On the contrary I want to wrap this up today and, hopefully, show that the issues at stake here are far more theological than political.

When we reflect back on the life of Dr. King and the war he fought against racism in the USA there are several valuable things we can learn as they pertain to the Great Commission. This concerns the scope of government legislation in what it can achieve, and the battles that can only be fought in the realm of the human heart. The success that Dr. King achieved, at the cost of his own life, was achieved within the realm of government. Black Americans received the right to vote, to sit where they chose on a bus, and to study at the finest universities to name but a few. In short, African Americans gained legal access to participate in every sphere of American life with the exact same opportunities that all other Americans had - and this was undoubtedly a great achievement. But, as I mentioned in my last post, Dr. King had a "dream" and that dream went far beyond the changes that were made to American law. I belive his dream is best summised in this statement:

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character".

That is interesting in the light of what Rick Warren said during his inauguration prayer for Barack Obama:

"We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where a son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven."

I believe that Warren was certainly implying that the election of Barack Obama as President was the realisation (at least in part) of Dr. Martin Luther King's dream. It is quite clear from the context of Rick Warren's statement that his assumption about this is based upon the color of Obama's skin and not on the content of his character. In reality, Warren's comment flies in the face of what Dr. King fought for. Though much has changed in American law, little has really changed at the coalface of American attitude (or human attitude) for that matter.

We just had an election where a wide variety of political aspirants brought brought a wide variety of political agendas before the American people. But polling and research reveals that when voting day came many black people voted for the black candidate because he was black with little or no knowledge of his political agenda or moral fibre. There were women who voted for the female candidate because she was a woman. People with a strong fear of a roundhouse kick to the head voted for Huckabee because Chuck Norris said so (I am definitely among that demographic).

So what are we to make of all this, Christian brother and sister? What am I driving at pointing this sad reality out? For one thing, the role of Gospel preaching in transforming society at the grassroots level. Why are we surprised that we cannot stamp out racism when we cannot stamp out sin? As I have often said the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. The Lord Jesus spoke of what flows out of this unregenerate human heart:

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander (Matthew 15:19).

With this in mind why are we surprised that people carry racist attitudes? I am contending here that the strongest weapon against racism is the strongest weapon against sin and that weapon is the Gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16), a power so radical that it can change a wicked human heart to love God and obey His commandments:

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

So utterly transforming that we can experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and become a new creature in Christ Jesus (II Corinthians 5:17). In short, no amount of legislation or social work can ever measure up to an encounter with the Living God! Something I believe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had just prior to his tragic assasination . . .



Time is short - may your labor be in work that will ring through eternity.

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. (I Corinthians 1:21).

Go Back To Read My Previous Post On Rick Warren's Inauguration Prayer