The Bible does not commence with the fall of man. It begins in the very beginning with God. God created for six days and called all that He created good. Then comes The Fall. We know the account of how Adam and Eve sinned, but what we forget is that sin seeped out of their hearts and infected all of creation thereafter. Working the land, tending animals, marriage, birthing and raising children, all became intertwined with sin.
Sin is not only in human hearts, but in all of creation. It is not just in individuals, but in that which people create. Sin gets into how we do everything. When a contractor cuts corners on a building project, resulting in compromised work, the ensuing edifice contains that sin. Perhaps safety measures were abandoned requiring a bribe to inspectors. It does not mean the building needs to repent, but it does mean that it needs that error rooted out and corrected to reform the building to its proper specifications.
Just as sin can affect how a building is built and cause damage to the building, so too, does it wend its way into institutions. We know this full-well just looking at the corruption in government. The corruption is not just in the sin within the human heart of the elected officials, but it infests the very systems and operations of government. Good government is an important part of having a healthy nation, but sin can get into the very system of how it’s run.
When a business relies on slave labor in foreign countries to make its product so that it can lower the bottom line to increase its profit margin we have an example of sin that has entered the system of business and not just the hearts of man. Certainly, there are men and women keeping the engine working this way. A change of heart would go a long way to beginning to correct a problem like this, but there are many systemic components requiring change to shift away from sinful practices.
Abortion is a systemic issue, not only a heart issue. It is in the health care, health insurance, family planning, and educational institutions. It is supported through art and film, and local and federal laws. It is upheld through the highest court of our land. Even if all the hearts changed tomorrow there would be laws and systems that need reform to weed it out of our society for good.
William Wilberforce took on the systemic sin of the slave trade. This nefarious yet sanctioned industry greased pockets on multiple continents. It required a massive culture shift achieved through the work of a small group of people known as the Clapham Circle with William Wilberforce at the helm. The legislative change was the end of the road and not the beginning. Laws follow culture.
In fact, sin permeates culture itself. Culture being that almost spiritual substance between us that morphs into a worldview way of life stemming from all of the art, media, business, education, government, family, sports, entertainment, military, technology, and every other form of cultural creation. Culture reflects the sin and perpetuates it. It gives it a life beyond the institutions and hearts.
Therefore, it is quite believable that racism is not only in the hearts of men and women, but in institutions, systems, and in culture itself. It is not just in hearts – it is systemic.
When Jesus died and resurrected to conquer sin and death, He enlisted a company of those who are His followers – who are called out from among the fallen world’s way of doing things – to be agents of a Kingdom where life is righteous as it was created to be before The Fall. These agents are set free from slavery to sin and they go about setting all of creation free from that entanglement of sin. We join the Lord in a Great Assignment – a Great Commission – to disciple nations in all He taught. Teaching what He taught is not merely teaching the Scriptures verbatim, but the Scriptures applied to every facet of society.
We redeem what sin has tarnished, decayed, or destroyed. We bring the reality of the Kingdom of God to hospitals, medicine, pharmaceutical companies, government, courts, jails, police departments, sheriff departments, engineering, manufacturing, banking, schools, universities, neighborhoods, grocery stores, public transportation, business, families, real estate companies, churches, factories, clothing industry, art, and entertainment.
There is not a problem in our nation that cannot be solved through proper application of God’s truth to how we do life in every part of our society. There is a reason that Jesus said we are to “disciple nations” and not “disciple people from nations.” When we disciple nations we disciple in a way that it matters to systems, institutions, and culture. Without the context of nations, we reduce discipleship into a spiritual container inside the church that has little relevance outside. We disciple in doctrine and Christlikeness, but leave people to learn from the world how to do business, art, education, government, etc.
When we ignore systemic sin, our attempt to tackle race issues looks like hugs and handshakes to demonstrate brotherhood, and yet all the tangible society matters go unattended. Our conservative politics has us afraid to consider the “systemic” because it feels like liberal “social justice.” But societal reform is, first and foremost, biblical, and most certainly evangelical. The liberal church and world are working on what the conservative camp today does not. It is going to have a different worldview and packaging because that is the worldview of the people who are at the forefront of doing something.
We are more set on pointing out “their” errors than looking for a conservative solution to a non-partisan problem. We must stop thinking liberals are creating the illusion of a problem so that they can feed America their liberal agenda. Black lives suffer when conservative Christians label real problems as liberal propaganda to further a liberal agenda. The entire nation suffers when we do this, because we leave the liberal agenda to shape the social issues of our day that we have no solutions for as our theology does not reach far enough outside of the spiritual aspects of Christianity. The very real problems of systemic racism that remain in our nation require the best minds from a variety of perspectives working on the solutions.
I am not attempting to divert people who are already on assignment from the Lord on other matters of import. But there are those who may have the solutions who are too distracted fighting the wrong fight to apply their creative ingenuity to the real problems at hand. But even those who will not be the workers on this topic should think rightly about it, so they are not participating in perpetuating problems.
Not everyone is on the same assignment of social reform. My assignment is worldview-related. I do the reading, research, thinking, deep-dives into theology, and writing to help believers think in a Kingdom way about what is going on in the world and where we fit into it. I write on a wide range of topics from the worldview vantage point. This is my primary reformation work. I encourage you to seek the Lord for your own assignment.
Social media has made everyone a critic of every cultural topic to cross our screens. I write to help develop the conversation in a manner that requires a greater pause to think deeply and speak slowly. Not everything fits into a box labeled conservative or liberal. In fact, most things should not fit in those boxes. The more we argue from different political platforms the more we leave the actual work for another generation which may be left more confused and less discipled than we are.
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