Racism Doesn’t End Here. It Ends at the End of Days.

I know my title sets me apart from a lot of Christian voices who have spent tons of time over the last few months calling for racial reconciliation and interracial conversation over the multiple shootings involving African Americans.

This thought struck me over the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag hoisted above the state capitol building in Charleston, S.C., the location of the most recent tragedy. My Facebook and Twitter feeds have blown up over the last few days with lots of articles, quotes, opinions, pictures, etc. It reached its height yesterday with South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and other leaders calling for it to be lowered. Confederate flags are becoming an endangered species here in America.

With everything that happened with the shooting in South Carolina, it has become a symbol of the racism all across America. And now that Wal-Mart, Amazon and a number of other retailers are removing them from their stores, there’s a shortage of that symbol available for purchase.

Even if every Confederate flag is burned/incinerated/thrown away/never seen again, it won’t change a thing. It may be a symbol of the “old South,” but, unlike the swastika of Nazi Germany, it has rarely been used, to my knowledge at least, as a symbol of racism. I could be wrong. I’m more than happy to be wrong if I am wrong. But…

Taking away the Confederate flag is akin to removing provocative billboards with scantily-dressed women on highways. If you take out the billboards, that won’t kill the lust in people’s hearts. It will simply take away a reminder. And while those things can be helpful, they won’t solve the issue. Honestly, in my opinion, it’s not even a step in the right direction.

Thinking politically/socially for a second: any kind of removal of a cultural symbol is a difficult thing to completely justify. Imagine if the government wanted to remove crosses because it offended people. There would be a serious uproar. Imagine if the government wanted to remove gay pride flags because it offended people. There would be a serious uproar. This is one of those classic cases of you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

Honestly, in my opinion, I’d be OK with the flag being taken down. Personally, I wonder why it’s not the South Carolina state flag or United States flag flying over their Capitol building anyways.

So what’s the solution to the flag problem? Do you take it down or do you leave it? I don’t know the answer to that. But that’s not what this is about.

This is about the sanctifying work of Christ that heals human hearts. This is about the Holy Spirit cleansing a man from the inside out. Racism will never be killed on this side of heaven. Dylann Roof’s primary heart sin may have been racism. But we all have our own racism. Maybe it’s lust. Maybe it’s pride. Maybe it’s greed. Maybe it’s (insert sin here). We can get rid of things on the outside to try to help us kill the things on the inside, but it won’t be the silver bullet.

The silver bullet comes at the end of all days.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:1-5, ESV)

We can do all the work we can this side of heaven to kill racism, but the work must be focused in the human heart. I’m not saying we should ignore people’s complaints and concerns. We should listen to the under-represented and under-heard. Good gracious, we should listen to them and do whatever we can to comfort them and show them the love of Christ.

But taking down flags, passing laws and even removing words from the vocabulary will not change the human heart. Only by meeting Jesus can individual hearts be changed. Only by the world meeting Jesus can racism be killed. That comes at the end. That comes when Jesus returns and sin is put away forever.

I can’t wait for that day.

But until then, let’s have the conversation, let’s engage the community, let’s be a part of society. Not just our personal society, but all of society.

Remember: the only step in the right direction is a step towards the cross, a step towards surrender to the Gospel, to the Christ behind the Gospel.

An Open Letter to Karen Fitzgibbons

I swore I’d never write one of these on this blog, but before her name blows up all over the place, I want to make sure she gets this too. If you don’t know who Karen Fitzgibbons is, read this story.

Dear Karen,

My name is Zachary Horner. You don’t know me, but I’ve heard a few things about you. You posted a fairly insensitive post on Facebook that got you a lot of blowback from people on social media. I even know of self-professing Christians who shared your post in a very condemning manner. That upsets me.

So this is my attempt to share my thoughts with you.

First of all, I’m sorry that you’re receiving that response. No individual person should EVER be the target of the hate and vitriol I’m sure that you are receiving, no matter how horrible the crime. I understand speaking to you in-person in a strongly-worded way. That’s how Jesus operated. He confronted the Pharisees to their faces and told them where they were wrong. But the social media nuts who are blasting from their computer screens are helping no one. I’m also sorry that you lost your job and I hope that you can find a way to support yourself soon.

Secondly, I don’t agree with what you said. It is unfair for either side to blame any societal tension on one side only. Since we’re all sinners in need of a Savior, no one is free from blame. The cop is just as guilty as the citizen. The black is just as guilty as the white. God doesn’t see race. He cares for all His children. He particularly cares for the marginalized. And, let’s be honest, in some cities in America, African-Americans are marginalized. I appreciate your honesty, but I don’t appreciate what you were honest about. You didn’t explicitly say you were asking for segregation, but you said you were close to it. I hope that you never reach the point where you want it. I don’t know what it was that brought you to this point, but I hope and pray that the Holy Spirit works in your heart just as I hope He works in mine.

Third, Jesus loves you. Jesus didn’t come to heal the people who got it right all the time, He came to heal those who were outcasts, who were sinners, those who didn’t have it all figured out. I sincerely hope and pray that there are people around you, that there are Christians, black and white, who will genuinely and lovingly take the time to speak with you and share the Gospel with you. Whether or not you are a Christian already, the Gospel is true and needed each and every day of our lives. I hope that you hear the message of grace.

Lastly, I want to apologize for all the Christians who rant from behind their computer keyboards or even just judged you and condemned you based on what you said. I admit to you that I’ve done that many times. I’ve seen something someone has said on Facebook and shook my head in disgust/frustration. We don’t have to agree with what you said. I don’t. But we must love you. We must speak out against injustice and racism, but that doesn’t mean we condemn those who commit it. They are people who need the Gospel, like everyone on the planet.

Karen, I would love to talk with you more about this. Feel free to reach out to me if you get this. I’m serious. My e-mail is zacharyhornereu@gmail.com.

May the grace of God rush over all the criticism and condemnation I imagine you’re feeling right now. And may Christians, including me, love you as God loves us – in the midst of our darkest moments.

Grace and peace,

Zachary Horner