I watched two videos today on the topic of racism and they could not have been more different. The first was a Q&A session with one of the most famous pastors in the United States, John MacArthur. Matt Emerson shared this clip on Twitter and gave his thoughts on the generational gap that seems to exist regarding race relations in our culture. In his comments MacArthur made the assertion that the tragic events in Charlottesville had nothing to do with race, but the wickedness of the human heart and its constant desire for violence. He went on to praise his own actions during the civil rights movement and criticized civil rights activists in Charlottesville. I live in Terre Haute, Indiana and every day I see confederate flags hanging in the windows of houses and flying from the backs of pickup trucks. I point this out because I disagree with Emerson about the gap he pointed out being a generational one. I see it as a geographic problem and not between North and South, because I live above the Mason Dixon Line, but between rural and urban. Many young people that I know who live in rural communities believe that most of the problems minorities faced during the civil rights era have been resolved. But young men and women from urban neighborhoods see the continued inequality up close and personal every day.
The second video I watched was from a good friend of mine named Ryan Harvey. He shared the video on his podcast here. He discussed the controversy that is still swirling around Colin Kaepernick, but even more importantly, in my opinion, he discusses the truth about why people who have different opinions about these issues can’t ever come to an agreement. I don’t know if it was his intention or not but his comments also shed light on why the church in the US is so divided and weak. Often times men and women who have risked their lives for the flag, or what our flag represents, feel that their experiences objectify their opinions. This is why politicians roll out wounded veterans every time they are making a controversial decision regarding our military. This is true, however, of all of us not just veterans. We think that our experiences have given us a unique and clear picture of what is true and because we trust our experiences more than those of people who are much different than us it can be very difficult for us to change our minds about almost anything. To make the problem even worse we often speak out strongly about things that our unique experiences make us feel confident about, and once we’ve spoken out boldly about something it’s next to impossible for us to listen to someone who disagrees. Brian Zahnd has a powerful message, Jesus by Night, about an old pastor named Nicodemus who was confronted with the reality of having to change his mind about what God was like even though he had taught people his whole life something different. It is my prayer that men and women across our nation, myself included, will develop the humility necessary to not only hear but to truly listen to those that disagree with us.