A matter of matters
I’ve looked for it… color in the Bible. Colored people. I’ve read the Bible through and through several times and in several translations. I’ve studied numerous theological subjects, and while I’ve always found Jesus in the reading and made my way to the cross in the process, I’ve not found people of color; that is, except for some erotic references in the Song of Solomon. Nothing political, mind you.
Just people: some good and some bad. Sure, there are plenty of ethnic groups but they are not identified by the tone of their skin but rather by the temperament of their heart (the latter giving God a reason to increase the good and to wipe out the bad). No one color matters in the Bible. If so, I think the good Lord would have painted for us a different picture of people. Likewise, there is no one political party, no one economic or academic status, and no one race or language. God made sure of that at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9). There’s just people who are neither and nor. Paul said it best in Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (cf. Colossians 3:11)
Those who are one in Christ are those who believe that He died on the Cross for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He was raised to life on the third day according to the Scriptures (I Corinthians 15:3-4). United in that belief, we’re called Christians, tagged with that title in Acts 11:26 when followers of Christ acted like “little Christs.” Those who falsify their following of Jesus by clearly not acting like Him cannot be united with those of us who truly follow Him. I know that hurts the feelings of many who are into religion for a free ride to heaven. This is why Jesus matters, His cross matters, and the truth of Scripture matters. Belief in God or attending church or affiliating with a religion do not make one united with Christians for the cause of Christ, but that’s another matter. This may ruffle a few faux-Christian feathers but the following will likely pluck them bare.
Let me return to the previous paragraph. My point is, no single person, no single type of people, no self-appointed group of people are more important or above the rest of us. No one matters except Jesus. He must increase but I must decrease (John 3:30). Nothing matters except the work of Jesus on the Cross. No other cause matters except the cause of Christ. Fancy slogans and catchy phrases aside, Jesus trumps all other matters.
Yet He can declare who really matters: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). According to Jesus, the world matters and whoever matters. To place one person or people group in the spotlight is sin, going against everything taught in the Bible. A focus on color blots out the words of Jesus and replaces whoever with something along the lines of “it’s all about me.” If John 3:16 was a history lesson, then it would be the first to be revised. If John 3:16 were a monument, then it would be the first to be toppled. So I dare to judge because I’m offended on behalf of my King. I’m angry for the cause of Christ. And I’m compelled to cast judgment against those who want me and others to endorse their “eitherness” rather than their “neitherness.”
This isn’t my weakness, that is, being judgmental, nor is it spiritual immaturity. I’m quite mature. It’s simply my righteous indignation against the wrongheadedness pervasive in America. I don’t use my whiteness or other color in making a judgment call for I’m neither and nor. I stand with the Commander of the Lord’s army who was Himself neither and nor (Joshua 5:13-15). And I pray the prayer of the bold, young man Elihu in Job 32:21 – Let me not, I pray, show partiality to anyone; nor let me flatter any man. (By the way, Elihu was not condemned by God like Job’s other friends. God shows no partiality and Elihu wanted to be like Him – cf. Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11. The boy was right.)
Many readers are certainly furious with me by now, reaching for a can of spray paint to censor me or a rope to topple me. That’s toleration, you know. They can rant but I can’t reason. But I know why they’re really irked: They cannot pray that prayer for they are unwilling or unable to receive the Holy counsel to not be partial. They might even call themselves Christian; but in the words of an old preacher man I once knew, “I don’t have confidence in their salvation.” Again, I judge.
So yes, I judge because I’ve been around long enough to see people’s true colors. I watch what passes nowadays as the news. I listen to people talk. I sort through the lives of people. That’s my business. I’m well aware of what people are capable of doing, what many are currently doing now: doing the sin of flattery and showing partiality. Do they not gleefully turn to thuggery, bullying, threatening, anarchy, and narcissism – or at least turn a blind eye to these things? Maybe I should rephrase this: I’m not judging as much as I am stating fact and reporting my observations; and this is it, the state of affairs in America: brute beasts coming out of the woodwork.
I cannot speak against this any better than Saint Peter did in chapter two of his 2nd Epistle. The whole of it needs to be read, not out of context but in context, for it also applies to the circumstances of today:
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.
By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) then the Lord knows how to deliver the Godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.
But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.
These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
Jesus matters. Whoever matters. No one person matters.
Lest one thinks that I don’t understand what is “really” happening, or that I don’t know my history (our history), or that I’m ignorant of the (self-imposed) plight of many people, nothing could be farther from the truth. But to succinctly crush the argument about the level of my stupidity and insincerity, I simply call to mind the irrefutable lesson Martin Luther King Jr. tried to teach all Americans, which has gone unheeded by many in his own ranks: It’s not about the color of your skin; it’s about the content of your character. I think he would be appalled at the priority of matters today.
Character is like integrity: either you have it or you do not. From what I see in the protests, the sign-waving, and the finger-pointing today, people have no character. With eager mindlessness and dumbfoundedness, they’re just following a movement without regard to the real matter: character.
Is there racism? Yes, when it is flaunted by people of any color against those of another color. All I can say about that is STOP IT. Jesus matters. Whoever matters. No one person matters. Character matters. Your color doesn’t matter.
The ire of many just went through the roof, I’m sure. Perhaps they deny the truth of Scripture and the truth of wisdom; or perhaps even the truth of history, as great as it is and as appalling as it is as a matter of fact. People loathe great history because they are jealous of it. They must find fault in great history and then pronounce judgment on it, revising it to their liking and removing monuments to their satisfaction. Note that I said judgment. Oh, so they can judge but I cannot? At least I admit I do. Anyway, great history either threatens one’s false perception of it (thank you, liberal educators) or motivates one’s patriotism for it (thank you, dad). Great history matters and patriots must guard its truth. For the Christian man, it is a matter of grit with grace.
Appalling history, on the other hand, welcomes people to embrace it for the selfish reason to receive sympathy for themselves and to shame innocent bystanders for the dark past. Let me be clear: I’m not responsible for the sins of my fathers. I’m not asking for forgiveness on their behalf. We jumped the fault line a long time ago. Well, many of us jumped. Some still enjoy the freefall into the abyss of blame and the rush that it gives. They’ll land eventually and it won’t be pretty. If you’re in that freefall, stop throwing things up to me because I’m not standing on the edge waiting to play catch. In fact, I’m walking away even as I speak. Look me up when nothing else matters for you.
Those who gladly embrace appalling history for the purpose of shredding it away forget that the markers of that history are reminders of how people, nothing like themselves, overcame the difficulties of the past. Go ahead and remove the monuments. To what then will you look to be reminded of how far we’ve come? Your silly protests and the garbage you left in your wake? Go ahead and revise history. Of what then will you read that tells the true story of mankind striving to better himself? Your manifesto of lies and deceit? When you’re done destroying these things, to where will you go next? The family or the church? (Not on my watch, by the way.) And when you get there, by what measure will you know that you are better for it?
Jesus matters. Whoever matters. No one person matters. Character matters. History matters.
I take a knee for no one but Jesus. I stand for nothing but the cause of Christ. I don’t worship martyrs. I won’t sing the praise of people. I give honor where honor is due, not when it’s demanded or compulsory, or to make myself one with the crowd. I’m one with Christ. I will not carry your banner. Speaking of that and while I’m at it, the rainbow doesn’t belong to sinners. It is God’s bow, created by Him to remind us of Him. If you’re one of those heathens who claims it for yourself, give it up. You’re flirting with disaster. But it does go to show that some people will do anything to disparage someone else’s color… no matter what color, or who that person or Person is.
Where shall I end? Since this is about a matter of matters, maybe it just really doesn’t matter. But of all the matters that do matter, this I know: Only Jesus matters. As a matter of fact, He’s all that matters.