The incident last weekend with the SAE’s at the University of Oklahoma has been the subject of much media coverage and debate this week. While absolutely what occurred on the bus to the fraternity party was wrong and deserving of the swift action taken by the university and the national fraternity, what has struck me is how in our condemnation of these boys we have presumed them to be much worse sinners than any of the rest of us.
I am not saying their racist behavior was not horribly offensive, because it was. I am also not saying racism is not a serious problem, because obviously it is still far too prevalent in this country. But for the purpose of this post what I want to draw attention to is how in our shock over what the boys did we seem blind to our own prejudices.
We may not have acted like they did, but in our hearts are there not those we look down upon? Perhaps for a reason other than skin color, but is it not still pride?
Do we think we are better because of what neighborhood we live in… where are kids go to school… where we vacation…what labels we wear… what positions or degrees we hold… what social circles we run in?
Do we think because of our background: where we are from or where we are not or who are family is we deserve certain privileges others do not?
Do we think our habits, performances, achievements, appearance or our views make us better than others who are different, not as successful, talented, attractive or intelligent?
Truth is we take pride in believeing we are somehow more special than others who are also made in the image of God. And in our pride, we judge, exclude and dismiss.
If sin though is not simply outward behavior, but what goes on in our hearts than our prideful thoughts condemn us in the same way the boys’ actions condemned them. We are no better off than these boys and in just as much need of grace and forgiveness.
The good news of the gospel is no sin is beyond God’s loving mercy and compassion for those who know their need of a Savior. For those who see we can’t and don’t live up to God’s standard of perfection, we are met with Christ’s perfect life for us. He met God’s standard and his perfection is credited to us who believe. Now when God looks at us it is not our sin he sees, but Christ’s righteousness covering us.
This free gift of grace cannot be earned and is given to sinners. But, you have to see you are a sinner. When you do: Grace. No matter who you are or what you have done.
I hope the truth of the gospel brings hope and comfort to those SAE boys and their families. And, I hope it brings hope and comfort to us, too.
Galatians 6:1-3 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself…”