Rep. Jody Hice: Confront old sins, return to God, and reject racism
Frederick Douglass in 1847 defined a true patriot as a “lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins.” To love America genuinely, we cannot sweep our problems under the rug. We must acknowledge our national sins and actively work to right these wrongs.
Nearly 200 years later, Douglass’s wisdom rings true. The tragic death of George Floyd has brought our nation’s sins to the forefront. My heart broke watching the appalling video of Floyd’s slow and agonizing last moments as he struggled for breath under the knee of the callous and indifferent Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin.
I was proud to see people take to the streets in peaceful protests to demand systemic change so that this repulsive crime may never be committed again. Then, I was horrified to watch these righteous demonstrations devolve into violence and destruction in cities across America.
While I now serve in the U.S. House, at my core, I am still the pastor who stood at his pulpit for 25 years, and I continue to look to God for guidance. In the Acts of the Apostles, we are told that he created every nation on earth from one man. And according to the Apostle Paul's letter to the Galatians, there is no distinction between races, status, or gender, but rather we are all one in Christ. In the letter to the Romans, we see that God is impartial and shows no favoritism, for he loves all his children equally. Finally, verses such as those in the book of James reveal that it is a sin to show partiality. Those who believe themselves to be superior to others do so with pride and arrogance. The Word of God is very clear that racism is sin.
In truth, we are one human race — each and every one of us is created by God. We must confront this sin together. We must acknowledge that racism exists in America, and it affects all of us. It is a national problem that must be confronted.
In these turbulent days, I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s statement during the Civil War that “we have forgotten God.” That is what lies at the heart of America’s troubles today. We have lost our love of God. We have lost our love for one another. We need to return to God and restore the bonds between us.
The First Amendment guarantees all people in the United States the right to protest. We have a right to be angry over Floyd’s death — and make no mistake, we are outraged. The scriptures tell us that at times we will be angry but that we must not allow it to drive us to sin. Anger can be a great motivator to create sweeping societal change. However, that change must be achieved in a peaceful manner, or else, we sow the seeds of future discord.
At the core of our nation, we have a deep spiritual problem within our nation’s heart. The violent riots wreaking havoc across our country underscore just how deep this problem runs. We have seen police officers shot, innocent civilians brutally attacked, businesses destroyed, and communities set ablaze. Racism is an evil sin, but more hateful acts are not the way to confront it.
As Lincoln wisely warned, we have forgotten God. The simple reality is that all of us are sinners. We have all erred, we have all made mistakes, and we all need forgiveness from a just and loving God.
The Gospel shows us that God sent us Jesus Christ as our savior — to take upon himself the punishment we deserve for our sins. We only need to accept Christ and receive the forgiveness that is offered. By doing so, we enter into a relationship with God, and he begins to transform our hearts so that we may extend to others the same love he so freely gives us.
My sincerest hope is that in the midst of this, we can all come together in a deeper understanding that God created all of us and loves us without partiality. Therefore, we should treat one another with the same love, respect, and civility that God offers us individually — in spite of all our faults and flaws.
America needs healing. Just as God offers us a new life in his grace, we must chart a new path for America in which our mutual love of liberty and freedom far exceeds any division of race or belief.
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