It’s that time of year. There is weeping and gnashing of teeth among students. There is rejoicing and dancing (unless you’re Baptist) among parents. It’s time to go back to school! There’s new clothes, a new list of supplies, and a new picture holding a chalk board that say’s “First Day of School, 2017.” I have been anticipating this day as it should bring life back to a sense of normalcy after the whirlwind that was this past summer. But as the calendar keeps flipping closer to that first day of school, my heart is somewhat heavy for those students who will be heading back to campuses where Christian values are cast aside and worldly passions are embraced and flaunted.
One of the notions that many students will have to face at their school is the idea that people should be judged based on certain social criteria and placed into different social structures with scales of value and worth. For a student at a new school, the first day or week at school can be a nightmare as you try to navigate the different groups of people and find where they fit in, all the while hoping and praying they aren’t put into an unfavorable category. This is not a new concept, it has been going on in the school system for years. And it’s not something that is foreign within the Church and the Christian community as well.
I am not necessarily talking about cliques. Cliques are not altogether bad. A clique is a group of people with shared interests who spend time together. When the clique becomes bad is when it becomes exclusive, primarily on the premise that their group is superior to those outside the group. It is that same line of thinking that leads to the idea that some people are better than others because of race, gender, nationality, etc. Now, I’m not saying that because a person is a part of a clique in high school that they will go on to become a male chauvinist or a neo-Nazi white supremacist. What I am saying is that there is the same type of sinful behavior this mindset and the notion of exclusive cliques.
Our country is still shaken by the events that took place in Charlottesville, VAlast week. To many, it was eye-opening to realize that such racism was still prevalent in our country today. Many people are still hurting and are scared because they don’t know how to protect their families in a society where this type of hatred exists. And there are others who don’t know how to respond to their friends and neighbors who are on the receiving end of that hatred.
It may seem surprising to some that this type of hatred and racism still exists with the Civil Rights movement having been roughly 50 years ago. But the truth is there is still racism, there is still bigotry, there is still hatred. The reason we still have these prevalent in our society is because there is still sin. Our world is in a fallen state, meaning fallen out of fellowship with God and left to our own desires, and because of this there will continue to be sin. This means that the only hope for people who have bigotry and hatred in their hearts is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The gospel is the story of how mankind was created in the image of God and in fellowship with God. But mankind fell into sin and that image became stained. Mankind was intended to be a mirror image of God, but now that mirror is cracked. Because of sin, mankind is separated from God and destined to spend eternity separated from God in hell. But there is good news, which is literally what the word “gospel” means, and that good news is that God still loves mankind and He wants us to love Him and be with Him in heaven. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our sacrifice for the guilt of sin so that those who believe in God and His Son, could now have that relationship restored.
That restoration is an ongoing process. Sin was not removed from our world when Jesus died on the cross, but it was defeated. That means that we can overcome sin and its power over us if we put our trust in Jesus. That is the only hope for overcoming hatred, bigotry and racism. We must be sharing the gospel and the love of Christ with those around us. And we must reflect God’s love to our world. The world needs to see that the gospel is for everyone, that it shows no partiality based on where someone lives, how much money they have, or the color of their skin. We reflect the gospel when we love those around us because we recognize that everyone was created in the image of God.
As students head back to their campuses, the challenge is to look at every individual as a unique image-bearer. Resist the urge to separate people into different categories based on popularity, finances, nationality, race, or any other reason. See the people around you being created in the image of God and as someone who may need to hear the truth of the gospel.
Soli deo gloria,