Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
As I begin writing this column, the sky is blue, the sky is bright, and the few clouds overhead are all wispy and impossibly white. Usually, on a day like this, my mood is as bright as the sky itself.
But today, I must confess to having a bit of cloud cover in my heart, a heaviness of emotion that feels a lot like a dreary, drizzly, gray day. Mind you; I know exactly where it stems from. Social media has been awash for a few days now with videos that break my heart and make me fear for the future of our land. The first was a video of a black young man accosting a white kid in school. The kid was sitting there listening to something on his earbuds, and out of the blue ended up getting beaten senseless and assaulted with a metal chair. The second was of a nine-year-old little girl on a school bus (white) also being beaten senseless by two black boys, one of which was a towering fifteen-year-old. The third was of a frail, elderly white lady in a wheelchair in a nursing home yanked out of the chair by her hair and beaten by a black lady who worked there. To make matters worse, that one was followed up by someone online saying, “Context, please,” as if any context in the world could ever justify elder abuse.
The reason that all of this weighs on me may surprise you, though. It does not bother me because I think it is epidemic; it bothers me because I know that it is not epidemic. It bothers me because I know that there are people who are actually promoting such hatred to try and make it epidemic. It bothers me because I see all of that online, and yet 99.9999% of the time, I have seen the exact opposite in my daily life of fifty-two years.
Bojangles is good. Really good. As a highly trained theologian, I am convinced that the Cajun fillet biscuit will be one of the fruits on the tree of life in heaven. But do you know what I really like about it? Each time I go to one of our local Bojangles, the precious black ladies who work there call me “sweetie.” One of them even tells me I have pretty eyes. I have gone out of the way to eat there on days when I was feeling down just because of them.
I tore a calf muscle playing basketball a few years ago. It was the big black guys that gently lowered me to the ground and then carefully watched over me when I blacked out for a moment.
One of my mentors in life was/is one of my martial arts senseis who helped me to earn my black belt. As a teen trying to survive some pretty tumultuous teen years, that dear black gentleman was one of my anchor points, a man I could talk to about anything.
A few years back, an old white lady’s car broke down in heavy traffic. I and the kid that was with me jumped out to help push her vehicle uphill and out of danger. But we were really struggling; pushing a car uphill is no easy task. Suddenly, “Thunk! Thunk!” a couple of pairs of very dark hands landed beside ours. Between all of us, we got the lady to safety.
I could fill up this entire edition of the newspaper with true stories like that. When people are not told/taught/encouraged to hate, they usually don’t, or at least not to such overt degrees. And they really don’t hate when they have been actively taught to love others because Christ loved and died for us all. When John 3:16 tells us that God so loved the world, it really means it; the entire world, everyone. When the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 tells us to take the gospel to all nations, it is from the Greek word ethnos, and it means everyone of every ethnic group. And when people get saved, they become literal brothers and sisters in Christ, part of what Galatians 6:10 calls the household of faith.
So, listen up. Let’s change the world here.
First of all, let’s acknowledge that racism and hatred and bigotry are part of the sinful nature of every race of people. I know, I know, we often hear that only whites are capable of racism because of “power structures, systemic whatevers,” and other such drivel. Such intellectual pap can only be believed by people who have been highly educated in how to ignore reality. Once we know that anyone, white, black, brown, red, any color at all, is capable of this grievous sin, then we can move to the next step in dealing with it.
The second step, then, is for everyone to condemn it in their own racial circles. Whites need to step up and call it out in whites (my wife did this on a school bus many years ago – ballistically. Quietest school trip ever, after that), blacks need to call it out in blacks, and so on. Preachers especially need to take the lead in this. We need to be the loudest voices saying, “If you hate someone because of the color of their skin, you are as wicked as Satan and just as lost, and you need to repent.” And this message needs to be a very frequent one. It needs to be heard in the home as well. Moms and dads, use your superpowers as the biggest influence in your kids’ lives to drive this truth home so deeply that the world can never get it out of them.
The third step is for people to spend time with and get to know others of other races. Families ought to have families over for dinner. Churches should fellowship. Everyone should go out of the way to befriend those of other races since the devil is going out of his way to stir up hatred between the races.
The fourth step is for everyone to learn and teach Bible doctrine. It should not just be professors or clergy that understand that we are all related since we all came from Adam and that we are all equally sinners in need of a Savior. It should not just be seminarians who understand that God does not favor one race above another and that when people get saved, all of their sins are forgiven, and that we, therefore, can never rightly hold anything from their past against them, and we especially cannot hold anything from their grandparents or great-great-grandparents against them.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at email@example.com, and his books are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner