How Does This Happen?

During my recent tour of historical sites and museums related to the civil rights movement, a question echoed in my mind several times: “How does this happen?” Of course that question brought up others. How do people see other groups as less than human? Why are there not more people who stand against injustice? As uncomfortable as that era of history might be to consider, there are many more like it. How does this happen?
The New Testament (especially Paul’s letters) would tell us that root of the problem is sin. More specifically, the problem is putting anything or anyone else in the place of God. In his book, Confronting Injustice Without Compromising Truth, Thaddeus Williams relates the problem of injustice in our world to Paul’s words from the first chapter of Romans.
“He does not merely note that humanity is ‘full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, [and] maliciousness,’ (verse 29) then blame all that injustice on society and dream up a utopian political solution the way Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels did. Paul does not look at the bad fruit on the human tree and then suggest replanting it in the different soil of some new political ideology. Paul knows that the human tree is so hopelessly sick that whatever soil you plant it in, toxic fruit will form. No amount of political revolution, social engineering, or policy tweaking will stop envy, strife, deceit, and maliciousness from sprouting out of our sick hearts. Why were all the utopias of the modern era doomed to fail? Because the evil did not originate in politics, society, or the economy. It is expressed there, but evil originates in human hearts that ‘exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.’ This, then, is how Paul adds deeper hues to our picture of injustice. Look deep enough underneath any horizontal human-against-human injustice and you will always find a vertical human-against-God injustice, a refusal to give the Creator the worship only the Creator is due. All injustice is a violation of the first commandment.”
God’s place in our lives is above everything and everyone else, including ourselves. Living with that in mind can help us see people as bearers of His image. We honor Him by loving them.
– Brian

“You shall have no other gods before me.”   – Exodus 20:3


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