By Scott Smith
I love the week of the 4th of July. It’s a time to personally reflect on my thankfulness for the freedoms I have as an American, some of which are: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and the right to bear arms. This past Thursday in Dallas, TX, those three freedoms converged and the result was the fatal shooting of at least five police officers and the wounding of seven others.
While on vacation last week, I watched the news media, political pundits, and politicians “spin” not only the shooting in Dallas but the prior police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota to match their predetermined narrative and talking points. It didn’t matter whether the person leaned politically to the left or right, was white or black, rich or not, they all had their own view and take on the situations. Understandably, some saw it as a racial issue; others saw it as a gun control issue; and most were quick to place blame on someone else. I heard few, if any, address what appeared to me to be the true issue not only in Louisiana, Minnesota or Texas but the rest of the United States and the world, for that matter.
Yes, race issues are still an issue in America as well as the rest of the world. And yes, gun violence seems to increase daily. Could race relations be improved in the United States? Of course they could. Should gun violence be curtailed? Of course it should. But sadly, laws will have little, if any, effect on these societal woes. As I see it, racial tensions and gun violence are only the presenting symptoms of a much deeper issue: the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart.
Few in our secular media and our current political environment seem to understand and realize that racial hatred and gun violence are a problem of the heart. They are not the heart of the problem. The Bible teaches: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Try as they may, politicians will never be able to legislate morality. It’s noble to attempt. Laws ensure that the honorable and noble will continue to act honorably and nobly, but laws are impotent in their ability to address the issue of the heart. Laws cannot change a person’s heart. Jesus Christ is the only One that can change a person’s heart. Hearts of stone become hearts of flesh when redeemed and restored by Jesus. Until we as a society come to a point of realizing that the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart, we will continue to see this past week’s events repeat themselves.
So, where do we start? Here are 5 suggestions to deal with the problem of the heart:
- Acknowledge the sinfulness of our own heart. (Psalm 51:3-4).
- Admit what we have personally done to contribute to our society’s ills, e.g. complacency, apathy, selfish-ambition, division, etc. (Judges 21:25).
- Seek forgiveness from and grant forgiveness to others (Ephesians 4:32).
- Pray for both a spirit of repentance and revival amongst the people of God (2 Chronicles 7:14).
- Show honor and respect to all people, regardless of race or religion (1 Peter 2:17).
Throughout history, God has used His people to lead the way towards reconciliation and restoration of the nations. Our nation can be the same. Could it be that God wants to use you and me as ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18) for our nation? It’s time for us all to realize that the heart of the problem is the problem of the heart.