What would you say is the most crucial thing that needs to be seen and dealt with?
When people think of the Civil War, the South, and the church, the first issue that comes to mind is racism. Slavery was certainly the key justice issue when our nation divided and went to war. Racism continues to be a huge issue. It needs to be faced, and the church should lead the way in doing so. Also, God is revealing other justice issues that have been hidden in plain sight. Typically, these justice issues involve our collusion in treating whole groups of people in ways that are dishonoring and unloving and often downright mean.
The reason we haven’t been able to address these justice issues successfully has to do with what I call “unrighteous roots.” We need to see the tangled root system of ungodly attitudes in our lives and our generations, and to let God uproot these attitudes, if we want to be who God has made us to be and to do what is right and just. Roots such as pride and greed, power and fear have got to go.
Yet none of these issues is the most crucial. The most important issue we need to address is so pervasive that trying to see it is like trying to see the air we breathe. I don’t think we can see it until God, by his Spirit, makes it visible. The problem is a deep double-mindedness that has plagued us for generations. It comes from confusing loyalty to Christ with loyalty to things we connect with Christ.
The church in the South fell into this double-mindedness after the Second Great Awakening. A large percentage of the population had become Christian, but the society as a whole had become obsessed with cotton. Christians began to confuse loyalty to Christ with loyalty to the South. When the voice of the Spirit said something different from the voice of the culture, the church ultimately chose to follow the culture. Today, we as Christians are often trying to serve Christ with divided hearts – and don’t even know it. We do not see where our true loyalties lie. That’s the key to resolving all the other issues. When our hearts wholly belong to the Lord, he will show us how to redeem all the rest.