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Be Flexible In Your Thinking About Race – Part 4
Archived – March 26, 2023

Be Flexible In Your Thinking About Race – Part 4

March 26, 2023


Objective of the series:

  • To put racial conflict in perspective and navigate it with peace.

Key Points:

  • An expanded view of Justice that pairs Justice with humility and mercy.
  • We treat our enemies with kindness—praying for them, blessing them, and meeting their practical needs.
  • We do this because God is this way: He’s merciful, kind, forgiving and generous: Romans 5:8–9 (ESV) 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • Like our Heavenly Father, our basic disposition is to give not to take—even when we’re taken from.
  • This does not mean that we should not pursue Justice
  • Speaking with candor about a grievance, expressing that grievance with emotion and insisting that wrong doers be held accountable are not only things God allows us to do, but things He compels us to do.
  • All He asks is that in our pursuit of Justice, we do not embrace vengeance.
  • Just like God’s command to Adam and Eve in the garden—“of every tree you can eat except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”—God is saying to us, every aspect of Justice is yours to pursue—except vengeance.
  • Romans 12:19 (ESV)19 . . . Vengeance is mine. . .says the Lord.”

Point of Clarification

Is Turning the Other Cheek Practical?

Does Jesus really expect us to submit to physical, emotional or psychological abuse?

  • Matthew 5:39 (ESV): 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
    • Turning the other check is about insult, not assault. It is about insult and not injury.
    • When you slap someone, your primary objective is not to hurt them, but to disrespect them.
    • Jesus is not only referring to the literal act of slapping but is also using the act as a metaphor for all forms of insult.
    • Romans 12:18 (ESV)18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

  • The love ethic of Jesus does not require you to submit to abuse but does require you to endure insults.
  • The love ethic of Jesus does not prohibit us from protecting ourselves from harm but prohibits us from inflicting harm on others out of vengeance.
    • Luke 22:35–38 (ESV)35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.
    • Luke 22:49–51 (ESV) – 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him.

The peace of God is active, not passive

  • 1 Peter 3:9–11 (ESV): 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.
  • Romans 14:19 (ESV)19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
  • Hebrews 12:14 (ESV)14 Strive for peace with everyone. . .
      • You oppose evil with the opposite spirit it’s presenting to you. [Romans 12:21 (ESV) – 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Conflict resolution is not complete

until we have peace with God

Racial conflict is not the main event. Spiritual conflict is.

    • 2 Corinthians 5:20 (ESV)20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
      • Being in pursuit of other people’s peace with God requires that we “do right by” God—in how we represent Him to others.
        • 1 Corinthians 9:19–23 (ESV)19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.


© Joshua D. Smith, Ph.D., 2023

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