Pastor Mark’s Blog

 
                                    
 
EQUITY, JUSTICE, RIGHT, WRONG
    I have been wondering if we know what these words mean today. Do we think them
important anymore? Just in case, here is a refresher. Equity refers to fairness and conformity to
rules and standards. In the Hebrew Scriptures it is about rightness and fair treatment of others
according to God’s standards and rules. Justice is about the determination of what is legally and
ethically right and proper. The Hebrew equates this word with righteousness, or right in the eyes
of God. What does God think versus what we think or what we can get away with. Psalm 99:4
tells us that God establishes equity, justice and righteousness (doing right) in the people He loves
because these values are the very foundation of His throne. Simply, those who call themselves
the people of God should reflect the very glory of God in their everyday behavior and treatment
of others. Are we being fair in our treatment of others? Are we conforming our lives to the rules
and standards of God’s righteousness and His teachings, or are we content to do as we please as
long as it is “legal” by man’s standards and just “the way the game is played?”
    Let me illustrate. If a person robs your home and takes all you have, and then is caught
by the law, do we want justice, or are we content to say, “That’s okay. Let’s just move on. They
were making a living the only way they could.” If someone lies, cheats or manipulates in a real
estate transaction, or takes advantage of another, is that just good business and “buyer beware?”
It is just the way the game is played. If someone or business overcharges beyond fair market
prices and proper profit, is it just being a savvy business and good capitalist?
    Somewhere along the way our sense of what is right and wrong, fair and just, has lost its
way. Maybe it is because our “winner take all” and “survival of the fittest” practices and
treatment of others is no longer grounded in God’s standards and rules. In fact, these new
“virtues” have obscured our Scriptural understanding of God’s righteousness – right and
equitable treatment, just and holy standards. God is clear. He is a holy God and His judgment is
based on justice, equity, right and wrong. You won’t be able to say, “I was just exercising good
business practices!” Nor can you argue that you were victimized by the capitalist system that
pushed you to succeed above the rest at any price. God will check the ledgers in the end.
But lest all this be misunderstood, one would certainly expect non-believers in God who
don’t fear God to move in these inequitable circles. What is abundantly clear is that today I see
many who call themselves “Christian” acting just as worldly, unjust and unfair in their treatment
of others, conveniently setting aside the right and wrong – “I’m just a poor sinner doing the best
I can!” Or, “It’s my right” which appears to take precedence over God’s standard of right. This is
disappointing. When we take advantage of the poor and the immigrant, and pay less than
minimum wage, are we being just and fair? When we can sell an item or product way above
market value “just because we can”, have we lost our mooring in equitable treatment of others?
    Should we use our wealth or status to bully others in our pursuit of gain and personal comforts?
Isaiah 56:1 says, “Keep justice and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come…”
What our Lord wants to see when He returns is for His people to be practicing justice and
behaving righteously. Church attendance on Sunday won’t amount to a lot if on Monday
through Saturday we are unjust, inequitable, and unfair in our treatment of others. We must
remember that God’s mercy, grace and forgiveness are only exercised by repentance. Without
genuine repentance – turning from our sin – we are left with God’s justice. And in His holiness,
sin will be judged unless you claim forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Christians are to be just in
their dealings with others, grant mercy, forgiveness and restitution when those who act unjustly
seek it. But absent these, there is nothing left but God’s justice and at times the laws of our land.
“For what you sow, you will reap.” “God has told you, O man, what is good: and what does
your God require of you but to do justice and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your
God” (Micah 6:8).
 

                                                                                      CRT or CRT

            I would like to talk to you about CRT…I figure I got your attention, now.  But I somewhat deceive.  It is not quite “Critical Race Theory” I am going to talk about as much as Christian Redemption Teachings.  My definition is, “Christian teachings about the, or relating to, the social construct and Scriptural realities regarding race and racism.”  The contemporary understanding of the acronym “CRT” is –  “Critical Race Theory, which is a sociological and theoretical movement based on the premise that race is not only a natural, biologically grounded feature of just physically distinct subgroups of human beings, but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color. Critical race theorists hold that the law and social institutions in the United States are inherently (read systemic) racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites.” They, therefore, would promote what many see as radical efforts to rectify these institutional, social, and cultural racial biases by such steps as reeducating the status quo (translated white Americans), adjusting economics to compensate for past inequities, and both finding fault with and rewriting of our history (see Britannica, “CRT”).

            But I will offer what may appear to be a naïve and simplistic counter – my Christian Redemption Teachings. First, the Bible is clear that we are all created in the image of God. As Galatians 3 teaches us, “We are all children of God through faith in Jesus Christ. And in Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, but you are all one in Christ.” These physical and national differences will persist even into eternity (Rev. 21:22-27). My point – race and nationalities are a reality and part of God’s plan. But God has no favorites. Second, because I believe in the Biblical reality of sin in all its expressions of pride, hate, and bigotry, I believe we are all sinners and all of us imperfect. Call it “systemic sin” if you like. We all – regardless of color, creed, or culture – carry our baggage of ethnocentric and cultural biases. As Christians, we are to repent of these sinful proclivities. The histories of empires, nations, and communities are be-spotted with failures and unrighteous acts toward others – whether the “other” be race, tribe, nationalities, or religions. The Bible is in part a historical drama of humanities sins toward God and injustices toward one another.  The Bible is clear.  Humans are capable of ugly, individual and tribalistic mistreatment of our fellow people.  But this brings me to my third point. The Bible and its message of redemption teaches me that no amount of historical rewrite or social engineering can repair the past or fix the present.  There has always been and always will be one cure for our problems about hate and bigotry – and there is enough to go around on all sides of the issue and among all peoples. The cure is faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for our sins, and the cleansing, forgiveness, and new hearts which it secures.  Man-made cures and attempts at justice as they apply to nationalistic and racial rectification – and history bears this out – only create more animosity and hate down the road.  The only source of love, forgiveness, and cooperation among people is to be found in Christ.  And there before Him one day, we will all bow the knee, and none will claim superiority or call for justice (Philippians 2:9-11). We cannot atone for the sins of our forefathers and mothers of the past.  Only Christ can do that.  We cannot realistically rectify injustices of the past – for all of us in some way could cry out for some retribution or rectification for past mistreatments of us or our forebearers.  Our only solace, comfort and hope in the moment is to experience the love of God through each other in mutual forgiveness, grace, kindness, respect, and acknowledgement of the plague of sin in all its dark hues past, present and future.  As Christians we are to set forth the reality of Christ in us and Christ for others – “letting each esteem others better than themselves…and to look out for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3,4).

            I believe the contemporary CRT of today will only create greater divisiveness in assigning guilt to one group and not all people – “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3). It is rooted in a theory of socialism (Harvard, 1980’s) and not science.  Second, it presumes confidence in humanities ability to fix problems of injustice. Not even a statism that forces rectitude or the appearance of equality will change the hearts and minds of men and women.  All the wars, genocides and conflicts of the past and present prove that to be idealistic at best.  The only place to find unadulterated equality (equal treatment and respect) will likely be the new heaven and new earth, where Christ will be Lord of lords and King of kings. The only place to expect complete equity (equal, fair outcomes) will also be in heaven. The answer for today is that with love, respect, and kindness for one another as commanded by Christ our Lord, we can work for equality – equal treatment, opportunity, and respect. The Lord in His providence is in charge of the equity.  I’m placing my hope on Christian Redemption Teachings, not the CRT of today.  I guess I am biased against man’s theories. My faith is in God’s teachings.