The racial climate of our nation has dominated the headlines over the last few weeks.
I think about the hateful rhetoric, the skewed thinking, the low self-esteem, and the hopelessness I see on the news and on social media. I often find myself wondering, how did people get that way? How did they come to form their mentality and beliefs?
I don’t ask that in a judgmental manner, but more in a curious way, wanting to understand how values, opinions and philosophies vastly differ across different communities of people.
I was watching the movie 42 with my daughters, and it reminded me how racism is learned. There is a scene when the Dodgers are playing the Cincinnati Reds, and a father and son are happily chatting about one of the players.
Once Jackie Robinson runs onto the field, the father, along with the crowd, start yelling hateful, racist comments, including the N-word. At first the boy looks around in astonishment at the way the tone of the spectators has changed, and then with trepidation, he joins them in calling Jackie the derogatory term.
Even though it was a fictional character, I’m sure it’s still an accurate historical depiction of a child’s viewpoint, behavior, and thinking being developed by the influence of a racist parent. Sometimes unbeknownst to us, our children are watching, listening, and soaking in lessons from us.
What are we saying? What are they learning from us? When we make off the cuff remarks about people of other races, without fully thinking through our words, we may be planting seeds in our children that can bloom into prejudice, and possibly full-blown racism.
As parents, we have an important responsibility to develop and shape the minds of our children in such a way to embrace others that may look, act, or believe differently than we do. We don’t have to agree with everyone’s beliefs and lifestyles, but we should exhibit respect and love for others.
I know it’s old and cliché, but now is a great time for each of us to ask ourselves, “What would Jesus Do?” When Jesus instructed us to “Love our neighbors as ourselves”, there were no additional qualifiers given for this commandment. He didn’t say neighbors that looked a certain way, had the same political beliefs, or behaved in what we deem an acceptable manner.
When we truly love God, want to live a life to please Him, and desire to draw others to Him, then we must follow what He says about how to treat and relate to others. In my Bible study this week, I researched biblical guidance and instruction for treating my fellow man.
The following scriptures are a good start to measure if we are showing the love of Christ to our fellow neighbor, or if we’re behaving like Pharisees. As you read through, mentally check off if you have observed each directive in the last month:
- Do [and say] unto others as you would have them do [and say] to you. (Luke 6:31 NIV)
- Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ. (Ephesians 4:32 CEB)
- Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others (Philippians 2:4 CEB)
- Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18 NLT)
- Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see that you are honorable. (Romans 12:17 NLT)
- You will love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these. (Mark 12:31 CEB)
- This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other. (John 13:35 CEB)
- Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits. (1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV)
- God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9 NLT)
And lastly, the ultimate litmus test for those of us that say we love God:
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen…Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (I John 4:20-21)
And how exactly do we love our brother, sister, and neighbor?
Love is patient… kind… not envious… not boastful… not rude… does not dishonor others… not self-seeking… not easily angered… keeps no record of wrongs… does not delight in evil… rejoices in truth… protects… hopes… perseveres… love will never fail us. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV)
We all have a lot of work to do. But thankfully, we have a roadmap to follow. Change starts within us and then we must raise a new generation that lives out the love of God to their fellow man.
We don’t have to be a biological parent to impact future generations – as teachers, mentors, coaches, and relatives, we all have an important role in impacting our youth, and ultimately the world.
But it ultimately starts with us. Let’s get working so change will come.
This week let’s take the time for self-evaluation, to measure these directives against our words and behavior in front of our children, while with our family and friends, and to the world through our social media.
Whose mind are you shaping? What seeds did you plant this week?
Feel free to respond in the comments section… and share this story with someone in your life that could use the encouragement.
Follow Destined 4 the Dub for the Inspiration you need each week as you journey through the highs and lows of life!