I could have been Derek Chauvin
[Note: in the wake of the death of George Floyd, I felt led to make a significant departure from my usual topics]
For 12 years my family not only attended, but invested our lives in a multi-racial church where I had my mind blown wide open to the prevalence of social injustice toward minorities in America. From that experience, I think every white person should consider how it would feel to be George Floyd in our world today.
However, what’s hit me the most from his untimely death, is this frightening perspective: I could have been the man accused of killing George Floyd.
I could have been Derek Chauvin.
No. I am not a police officer.
I would never want that kind of authority. Because I have been guilty more than once of abusing the authority given to me.
Never killing anyone, but still bringing pain into the lives of others. Most of whom I know and love.
So I could have been Derek Chauvin.
No. I do not hold animosity toward people who happen to be black-skinned. In fact, just this morning I saw one of my neighbors out watering his flowers – who happens to be a black man – and, through tears, I managed to tell him how sorry I was for everything that’s going on in our country today. And I told him I hoped he felt safe in our neighborhood.
If you are a person of any minority race reading this post, I wish I could say the same thing to you. Face to face. While you water your flowers in your yard in our neighborhood. “I hope you feel safe.”
However, many times I know I am not safe.
Not because of police who would use excessive force against me. Nor because of a father and son who would chase me down, with shotguns.
As a white man I have the luxury of not fearing systemic racism. But as a human, I fear my own sin. And that can get pretty scary.
The Apostle Paul called himself the chief of sinners. I used to think that was just good ole fashion self-depreciation.
However, I’m older now. And I know myself better. And I know the natural sin nature in me is far worse than I had imagined when I was younger.
I could have been Derek Chauvin.
Now I would never presume to understand Chauvin’s particular motives. I can’t know his heart.
But, I do know mine. And there have been many a person in my past (almost all of them white men, by the way) who I would have been sorely tempted to exercise excessive force against if I had the opportunity to do so.
This means that, though I’ve never killed anyone in real life, I have in my heart. At least according to the meek and mild Jesus who said that merely harboring bitterness and anger is liable to the same judgment as murder itself.
So if Jesus is true – and I believe He is – I have much blood on my hands.
Even if, just like Chauvin’s hands, you can’t actually see the blood.
All of that to say, for years I’ve been praying for racial reconciliation in our nation and our world. However, I’ve become convinced…
We will never make true progress in destroying systemic injustice anywhere until we can each humble ourselves enough to recognize the stronghold of sin in our own hearts.
For we know no one is born a racist. But, according to God’s word, everyone is born a sinner.
Racism is a symptom.
And sin is the cause.
Sin is the unseen virus that’s killing the soul of our world from the inside out. From it springs racism and revenge and injustice and pride and indifference and bitterness.
Making it hard for a lot of us to breath freely.
But today, I’m using what breath I have been given to confess: I could have been Derek Chauvin.
How about you?
If you’d like a little help in forgiving the people who have hurt or offended you, please check out our Hot Topic resource page where you can learn about our free e-book, Forgiveness 101, which shares five Biblical realities to set you free to forgive.
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