The heart of the matter is always the matter of the heart.
I don’t know who said that but to me, it makes sense.
And Jesus also points to that when He says “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a man.” So my question to God on this topic was, “Lord, what’s in my heart and how should I response as a Christian who is white?” Here’s the verse He gave me:
Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O mankind, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
“No Justice, No Peace.”
We’ve seen these signs everywhere and it’s part of the mantra of the George Floyd Black Lives Matter Movement. As Christians, what does this mean for us? Where does seeking and demanding justice fall in line? As I examine the Bible, I see that our God is a God of Justice…He’s the Judge, therefore Justice is a part of His character. You can’t separate Justice from who God is. And we’re called to be imitators of God as beloved children. Therefore, if we’re children of God, there should be a desire in our hearts to walk, pursue and seek justice played out within our lives and for the lives of those who can’t speak, or their voice is drowned out and muffled.
When I was in Haiti, there was this guy who became a student of our school. He repented of his wicked ways, got baptized, he even got delivered from demonic oppression and I witnessed a wicked spirit come out from him. (If this troubles you, it shouldn’t…demonic and angelic activity is real, we in America like to give it medical labels and try to ignore this, but we simply can’t).
God was doing a great work in his life and then we found out that he had been robbing God and His people. There were funds set aside for building roofs for the poor communities in Haiti and we discovered he not only stole the materials, but also the money. When confronted, he denied it and tried to find a way out. He even threatened voodoo on another person and promised to get this person in prison.
He was unrepentant when confronted with sin, and quite frankly, I had become sick of seeing the injustice of Haitians to one another, and I was fed up. I took the matter into my own hands and filed a court order to take this guy in front of a judge, if nobody else was willing to stand up to him for fear, I most certainly would. After all, God wants us to defend the fatherless and help the orphan and widow, right? It was a day after I filed the order when my sweet daughter came up to me and asked a very simple question with the most pure conscience and no false motivations. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Yes,” I said.
“Do Christians take other Christians to court?”
Shamefully, I knew the answer, but decided I would try to cover it up by looking spiritual to my daughter.
“That’s a good question, I’ll have to look at what the Bible says,” I quickly retorted to cover my pierced conscience.
Deep down, I knew the answer was a resounding NO. But I decided to “check the Bible” just in case I found a loop-hole (lawyer reference not intended).
It’s kind of like those times when someone asks you something and you take the Christian cop-out by saying “I’ll pray about it” when you already know the answer or have no real intention of actually praying about it.
So to wrap this story up, I came to the conclusion that I already knew. No, it’s not encouraged, commanded or even recommended to ever take another Christian to court in the New Testament. So I dropped the charges the morning of the day it was supposed to begin.
I was so frustrated…I knew I didn’t stand a chance in Haitian Court with another Haitian, let alone a Haitian who is super deeply connected to the government and law officers already.
I felt helpless…when God spoke to me and said, “Aaron, you have the right heart towards My people, but you chose the wrong method.”
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells of a story of a widow before an unrighteous judge who neither fears God nor respects man. Jesus basically says the widow annoys him long enough that he answers her and gives JUSTICE to her from her adversaries. Jesus then says we should always pray and never lose heart and that even though it seems God delays in executing justice for his people who cry out “day and night,” He will do it speedily…Nonetheless, will the Son of Man find faith when He comes?
Hmmmm. I could have been okay without that last verse Jesus.
Are we seeking justice with the right methods? Are we doing it the right way? What if for every minute we posted or for every minute we protested, we spend that time praying to the God of justice?
What if we actually believed God would bring about justice for us if we asked Him long enough by faith instead of thinking He wouldn’t and trying to take matters into our own hands?
I’m not necessarily saying you shouldn’t post on social media, or protest peacefully, or move to enact new bills and laws that protect against racial injustice.
I believe new laws should be established. However, are we, as Christians, thinking that the government is really going to fix all of our problems? I wonder if we are looking to the government to be our Savior instead of looking to the One who is?
Proverbs 29:6 – “Many seek the ruler’s favor, But justice for man comes from the Lord.“
God’s children were enslaved for 400 years. Moses tried to bring about justice. He killed an Egyptian. Right heart. Wrong method.
God redirected him, and brought him to a place where he could use him to execute justice the way He wants.
Seek Justice…but do it God’s way.
Mercy – Compassion shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
aka: “not giving someone the punishment they deserve.”
I was at a gathering of close to 50 men one night. I had only been back from Haiti for 5 months or so. I was talking to a group of other men and this gathering was purposed for us to seek God, and have genuine fellowship with one another.
The topic of inviting someone over came up and one of the other men spoke up. The person they wanted to invite over was a Haitian man from the town we lived in.
“Yes,” spoke one of the guys, “we should have invited so-and-so over (I’ll leave his name out).”
“Sure,” I said sarcastically, “only if you want to be manipulated, cheated, lied to and to then lose your wallet. That sounds great, let’s invite him!”
Open Mouth, Insert Foot.
I then recognized I had dug a hole I couldn’t get out of and saw there was another man who was part Haitian standing next to me who had just heard my blunt comment.
“At least that was my experience…” I said as I sheepishly tried to climb out of the hole, to no avail.
A few days later, God had a really great conversation with me.
“Aaron, are you so consumed with justice for this man, do you even want him to repent and receive My mercy?”
My Christianese wanted to say, “of course God,” but the Lord searches the heart and there is no thing hidden from Him.
I took an honest evaluation of my heart, and this was my heart response to God.
“No” “No….I don’t.” “God I want justice, I want him to get what’s coming to him. I want this man, who flirts with women to take advantage of them, who extorts children for personal profit, who blasphemes the name of Christ….I want this person to get what’s coming to him, Lord.”
“For judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.” James 2:13
You see, my heart was covered with a thick layer of pain and I couldn’t get past it to actually see this person with God’s heart.
Enter Immediate Conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the verse that God gave me,
Exodus 34:6 – “And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth…”
Yes, the next verse does say he by no means clears the guilty (justice) but the verse before it says he extends mercy to thousands while extending justice to the 3rd and 4th generation….
Thousands vs. 3rd and 4th generation?
That’s God speaking about Himself to Moses…and the very first thing He describes about His own character is “full of mercy”
Why is it that we often love justice and seek mercy?
Why is it, that we often cry out for others, “JUSTICE” but when it comes to our own lives, we cry out “MERCY?”
Has the cry of our hearts become louder for justice than mercy?
Have we become so consumed with justice, that we’ve forgotten mercy?
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” – Jesus.
Let’s remember that Jesus, while on the cross, being nailed, being persecuted, being murdered for a crime He never committed, while being forsaken, betrayed, rejected, stabbed in the back, denied, He cried out MERCY!!!!!….not justice…
Matthew 7:1-5 “pull out the plank in your own eye before removing the speck in your brother’s eye.”
I remember working at Furniture Row for 10 years. I had a successful career and my experience was amazing. Near the end of my career, I took a week long vacation. When I came back, I came back to the most rude awakening I ever had in my life and it’s effect would forever shape my future.
As I walked in I remember seeing my assistant manager (I had worked with her for 5 years now) acting a little differently. She was nervous. Back to the office we went and she began to explain that while I was gone on vacation, the entire staff had had a ‘bash Aaron Taylor party.’ Essentially. They gathered round during the team meeting and talked about all the wrong things I was doing and how crappy I was.
Just because someone is saying something in the wrong way doesn’t make the actual thing they’re saying untrue.
It felt like I got slapped in the face and my whole floor dropped from underneath me. My world just got turned upside down and it felt like I couldn’t move, yet wanted to scream and run away. I remember thinking to myself, “if I have enough money in my savings, I’m done, I quit. After 10 years of giving my life to this company, I’m over it.”
Maybe that was my problem, I had given my life to an Organization, instead of giving it to a Person.
Well…I didn’t have enough money, so back to work I went.
Really….that moment was one of a couple absolutely crushing moments in my life. At the time I was so upset, full of rage, confusion and words probably best left out of this blog.
Now…looking back, I’m so thankful to God for that moment.
Later that week, I began scheduling one-on-one’s with everyone in the staff to address each person’s concerns.
I remember preparing in my office the hour before my very first meeting. It was with my senior salesman.
I began writing down everything he was doing wrong. I wrote down every part of his performance he was falling short of store requirements and all the ‘arrows’ I had to throw at him.
These were not opinions, they were facts, data supported my statements. I was loaded, ready to aim and fire. It was a full page of bullets. let’s do this, he’s gonna get his.
15 min. before the meeting, enter God.
“I want you to humble yourself, lay down that paper, point nothing out to him, and apologize for what you’ve done. I want you to apologize for how you’ve allowed the pursuit of success, wealth and the world’s definition of security to become an idol in your life. I want you to tell Him how you’ve left Me and that money has become your idol and then apologize to him.”
Silence…again from me towards God.
Really God? You want me just to roll over and let this guy have his way? Even though these are legit infractions he has done?
I’ve often found in my own life, I am so passionate about exercising my rights as an American Citizen, while in doing so, it is to the direct expense of exercising my rights as a child of God.
15 min later, meeting begins.
Enter – upset employee.
He begins to share about what’s going on and gets the “load” off of his chest and after 10 minutes or so of telling me all of the problems going on in the store (which he had valid points), he asked me a very provoking question, “What do you think the problem is Aaron?”
This was the moment to obey God’s voice, or to reject His voice.
“you’re right,” I responded, “I’ve forsaken Jesus as my God and I’ve allowed, money, wealth, success to replace Him in my life. I’ve pushed people out of my way so that I can be the best and make the most. And I’m sorry that I’ve replaced Jesus as Lord. And I’m sorry that I hurt you.”
Drop the mouth (his…literally).
This was the turning point for me, and by the grace of God, I began to re-establish healthy relationships with the people I had run over by my drive for money and success. It was awesome.
It’s really easy to point the finger at others, I always tell my kids when they do that, they have 3 more fingers pointing right back at them.
It’s easy to see the sins of others, yet neglect our own.
Where do you fall short in light of a Holy God?
The Bible says if you’ve ever looked at a woman to “lust after her” you are an adulterer. And if you’ve ever hated your brother or sister in your heart, you are a murderer. So…according to God’s standard, we have all been adulterous murderers at some point in our lives….
Well, Aaron, I’m not THAT bad. I’m not as bad as that person who shot the black police officer who was trying to protect the pawn shop.
I’m not as bad as that white police officer who put his knee on George Floyd’s neck.
I’m not as bad as the violent rioters, or the person who shot this person, or this or that….the list goes on and on and on.
Really? The Bible actually says you’re good works are like “filthy rags” before God. Your best effort for goodness is like bringing a filthy, dirty, bloody rag before God and saying, “look at this, isn’t it awesome!” and it makes Him want to puke! It’s disgusting, revolting. (Isaiah 64:6)
Don’t be so quick to point out the flaws of others, make sure you evaluate your life, your heart and allow God to remove the deep dark issues that you don’t even recognize is there.
Maybe you’re walking around pointing out the issues of others and you have a forest growing in your face.
With Your God
Remember your citizenship.
Back to Haiti again.
We were on a 6 day trip in the mountains. It was glorious. By far, one of my favorite memories. And during a time of worship on the 2nd or 3rd night, one of the students came up to me and asked me a very thoughtful question.
“What do we call you?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Do we call you Pastor, Teacher, Director, what should we call you?”
Technically, I was their teacher, and director, I wasn’t really a pastor although I acted like one so I guess that meant I qualified.
“fre Taylor” I said.
“Call me brother. I am your director, I am your teacher, and I’m waking alongside of you like a Pastor, but before all of that, I’m your brother. When we get to Heaven, I’m not gonna be your pastor, teacher or director, but I’ll definitely be your brother.”
Fight for the things that unite us.
Allow your heavenly citizenship to define your life and your identity above everything else.
Galatians 3:26-28, Colossians 3:10-11, 1 Cor. 12:13-14
“There is neither Greek nor Jew, Slave nor Free, Man nor Woman, but you are all one in Christ if indeed you have put on Christ.”
Was there Greeks and Jews? yes.
Were there slave and free? yes.
were there male and female? yes.
so what is Paul saying?
God has broken down the dividing barrier of Greeks and Jews, Slave and Free, Male and Female. He has broken the division down through the cross of Jesus Christ and made us one.
Being in the family of God should define us and unite us more than the things that are different about us.
So, there is neither slave nor free, male nor female, Greek nor Jew, and dare I say, black nor white….
It’s interesting how much, as believers, we contend for the temporary things and ignore the eternal things.
2 Peter 1:14 says we will take off this “tabernacle” or “tent” (referring to our body) and put on “immortality”
I have some great news everyone.
We’re gonna get a new body!
We’re gonna remove this body and get a spiritual body, yet we are so passionate to allow the color of our skin to define the way we think, act and live instead of allowing the Bible to determine it. Remember that our life is quick, like a “vapor” the Bible says. If you compare our life on earth with eternity, our life on earth pales in comparison.
How can I leverage the way God has made me to advance His kingdom and promote unity? That’s the real question.
Each of us is different, and each of you are absolutely beautiful! You are made in the image of God! You are marvelous! Let’s celebrate that and honor the image of God in everyone.
Instead of attaching your life to the color of your skin, leverage it for the kingdom.
You’ve been uniquely crafted in such a way to reach a group of people I could never reach…
“love like you’ve never been hurt before.”
quote from an RSOM student. (I would’ve liked to take credit for it, but can’t)
Romans 12:21, 1 Peter 4:8, and Colossians 3:14…just to name a few…speak that Love covers a multitude of sins, and it is the bond of perfection.
Love is the answer. Jesus is the answer.
In a time of elevated hopelessness, the world is waging war with the weapons of earth, the carnal weapons.
As believers, no matter what color you are, we are called to be Love.
As I was talking about this subject of racism with a group of friends, one of them, who wants to remain anonymous, shared something very powerful. She’s black and she’s over 70 years old. She’s personally seen and experienced a lot of racism in her life.
Here’s what she said:
“I come from another perspective on this whole thing that’s going on because I’ve lived through so much of it my whole life. My focus the last few weeks have been on listening to all of the things that were said against these officers and what they did. And then I listened to the family of George Floyd and how they responded. And they responded in such a way that was so unifying to our Country. So that just blew me away. The lord brought to mind to me the officers and he said to me, “Can you love them?”
“Can you love those officers?”
And so he gave me Matthew 5, which Jesus says, “you have heard it said you shall love your neighbors and hate your enemies, but I say to you, love your enemies and do good to those who hurt you, persecute you and pray for those who spitefully use you.” Then you shall be perfect.
Then He would call us His Sons and Daughters.
He has called me and asked me that I have to speak about His love. As children of God we have to proclaim that message of unity and love for everyone, no matter what they’ve done. The focus has been so much lately on what we’ve gone through, and we have…I have. But I want to love everyone, I want to be as forgiving of them as God is towards me. It doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences done for them. And it doesn’t mean that God won’t see that those consequences are executed. But I’m not the Judge. I’m not the one who condemns. I’m not the one who can say anything, because I’ve done terrible things in my life…and God has forgiven me. That’s where I am right now and I haven’t been able to move from that point of hearing what the Lord is saying in this time to me…and I believe to the church.
Simple. Basic. True.
Love. That’s it. That’s what matters.
So let me ask you a final question.
In the midst of everything going on, how is God asking you to Be Love? to shine bright? to stick out among the crowd? and to be the beautiful example of Jesus Christ to this desperately wicked world?