By Scott Allen (…continued)
Transforming truth No. 2: God cares for us (and judges us) as individuals
God created us as unique individuals, and He cares about each person individually. He counts our tears and numbers our hairs. He also holds us accountable as individuals for the decisions we make and the actions we take. When we face the final judgment, the book opened will be the book of our lives. There will be no excusing our sinful behavior because we were a part of an oppressed group, nor will we be judged for the sins of our fathers or grandfathers. No, we will stand alone before that judgment throne, and all that will matter is what we did, or didn’t do.
Here’s the bad news: God will declare each one of us guilty. Our own words and actions will be revealed and show us to be unrighteous sinners before the glorious brilliance of an altogether holy, just, and righteous God. We cannot stand in His presence unless our sins are wiped away, and that would require someone to take the punishment we deserve. Someone would have to pay our debt, exchanging his righteousness for our unrighteousness. Only God could do such a thing, and that is exactly what He has done in Jesus Christ. All that remains for us is to open our hearts and our hands and humbly accept this priceless gift, but we must do this individually. Nobody can do it on our behalf.
Yes, our families, churches, and ethnic groups are important. They are God-given and valuable. These communities shape us in profound ways. But here’s the powerful thing: Just as the Bible affirms unity and diversity, it also affirms individuality and community.
Evil, including racism, isn’t merely a white problem, it is a human problem.
Today, the emphasis in the culture is on community, but in the form of tribes or identity groups. Our culture increasingly defines us by skin color or gender— not only that, it draws the line between good and evil among identity groups, rather than through every human heart (as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn famously put it). Increasingly, sinfulness and righteousness are functions of group identity, not personal behavior. For example, it is increasingly common to hear the assertion that only white people can be racists (that is to say, evil). Therefore, if you are not white, you are good, or at least not evil. This is a false and dangerous belief. All of us are more than capable of evil thoughts and evil actions, regardless of our skin color, or our relative power in society. Evil, including racism, isn’t merely a white problem, it is a human problem.
We must reject this tribal idolatry. We must not treat people merely as members of a group, but as unique individuals. We must never judge others by their skin color or gender, but instead by the totality of their character and behavior. True justice must always be colorblind. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of a world where his children would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin is a profoundly Biblical dream— and a profoundly American dream as well. After all, our founding creed declares that all men— black, brown, red, yellow, and white— are all created equal, and are all “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” That is why we fought a civil war. That is what the civil rights movement was ultimately about: being true to our Declaration of Independence. Tragically, King’s dream is waning and we are casting aside our founding creed. If we continue down this road, we will end up in a very dark place indeed. (continued…)
Romans 14:10 — You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.
Ezekiel 18:19-20 — Yet you ask, “Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?” Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 — Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.
Psalm 32:1 — Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.
–Ancient Jesus prayer