Why I Chose “Repentance”

These are trying times in our world, especially in our nation.

In trying times, the absolute best thing I know to do is to pray. To humble myself before the Lord, and to seek His face. To learn from His Word, and to lean on the Holy Spirit to give me insight, direction, courage, and whatever else is needed.

Last Monday evening, one week after George Floyd was killed at the hands of Minneapolis police, several churches in our area decided to get together in an Isaiah 58 Prayer Fast. (I invite you to read Isaiah 58 to understand why.) We would come together to seek the Lord and pray.

Why would we do that?

Because we believe that racism–whether ‘systematic’ or ‘individual’ is primarily a spiritual problem. It is evil. It is a lie, and it comes to us from the father of lies, satan. Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

Since we Christians believe that ‘spiritual problems require spiritual solutions’, we came together to pray.

It was interesting–that afternoon, there had been growing rumors that people from outside our community were going to come in to lead riots, and that they would try to disrupt any peaceful protests. In the hour before that Prayer, the rumors were already flying about ‘riots’ in a couple places.

We decided to go anyway…because evil must be opposed! Especially to those who stand for Christ, the option of quietly going along with evil is wrong, period.

When we got there, we were asked to write a word on white masking tape to go over our mouths (or masks). I knew beforehand the word I would write, based on what God had been doing in my heart for the past week.

The word: REPENTANCE

Really? Repentance–for racism? You?

Yup. Not ‘overtly’, but for my attitude.

Let me be clear: I genuinely appreciate, accept, and celebrate all races and ethnicities. I know that the Lord is the Creator, and that He creates beauty, diversity, and individuality. I love it! I know that the Kingdom of God…the Family of God…is a diverse body of believers in Jesus Christ. One day, we will all be praising Him at the throne, because He is the One who offers all of us salvation!

Revelation 5:9-10, 13: “You are worthy to take the scroll
    and break its seals and open it.
For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.
And you have caused them to become
    a Kingdom of priests for our God.
    And they will reign on the earth.”

“And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang:

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
    belong to the one sitting on the throne
    and to the Lamb forever and ever.”

So…if this is how it is, and how it will be, why would ‘racism’ be tolerated?

…and that is what I needed to ‘repent’ of.

Toleration of evil.

I knew…and it hit me this week…that I would never have to have a conversation with my sons about ‘What to do if you’re pulled over by police’, or ‘How to behave in a non-threatening manner’ in the community. I wouldn’t need to have that conversation because my sons are white. However, I know a family–several actually–whom I love and respect that DO need to have that conversation! Their young men are quality individuals, believers in Jesus who are on the path to leadership, influence and success…and it hit me this week that I need to pray that they don’t come across the ‘wrong’ kind of person–whether a community member or Police Officer.

Now please, don’t get me wrong. Don’t overreact to what I’m saying. I know many police officers and none of them are evil people who would deliberately treat anyone unfairly. I am not trying to question their character. I am only dealing with my own issue here.

In the past, when these types of events would happen, I would be grieved, I would be sad–really. However, I would normally stop right there. I’d pray for their family and, in many cases, I’d assume that that individual was making trouble, and it got out of hand.

God was convicting me this week that this attitude–the one that normally blames the victim–is a problem. This attitude that minimizes the reality of what people of color go through is wrong. My desire to ‘get back to my comfortable life’ and avoid being ‘disturbed’ by this is a luxury that many people of color do not enjoy.

And the Lord was convicting me that ‘tolerating’ it is sin.

It is not simply a ‘social problem’, it is EVIL. It is of the devil. It is destructive to God’s beautiful creation. It is sin. The Lord was showing me that simply being ‘a nice guy’ is not good enough. Especially as one in a position of some degree of influence, I have a responsibility to stand against evil.

So…I chose ‘Repentance‘.

When I was praying on the side of the road last Monday, someone took my picture. I ‘saved’ it because it captured me grappling with this, and I wanted to remember it.

If you know what that word means, however, it cannot stop there. Repentance is not simply ‘sorrow’. It does not stop at ‘regret’. Repentance is active. It moves. It does something with that sorrow. It changes the one who is repenting!

I need to DO something to change.

What can I do?

I can certainly pray.

I can bare my soul–like this.

More importantly, I can enter into relationships–not ‘pity’ relationships, but real ‘relationships’–where we affirm each other, listen to each other, learn from each other, and love each other.

I can do that. I must do that.

It’s not primarily ‘political’, not primarily ‘policy’ (although it does affect those areas, for sure). I believe that it’s primarily personal. It’s a change of the heart…of relationships.

How about you?

I invite you to pray about this…to ask God His opinion.

Maybe He would want you to ‘repent’ and to make changes.

If you see racism accurately…as evil…there’s really no other way!

We must move forward…together!

Published by Pastor Dave Johnson

Follower of Jesus, Husband to Lori, Proud Father to 6 great kids, Co-Pastor of Kalamazoo Community Church. Long-suffering Detroit Lions fan.

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