"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." I'll come back to this quotation in a moment and tell you who said it.
Twice, King David, toward the end of his career, faced national disasters. Once was famine, the second was pestilence. Both times God brought judgment because of sin. The first time that judgment came was because king Saul, who preceded David, had acted wickedly toward the Gibeonites. Israel broke a covenant with them. Ethnic cleansing – by a previous administration – had angered God, offended his justice, and soon brought pain to the whole country.
The second time judgment came was due to King David's personal disobedience. He numbered Israel, taking a census to see if he had enough men to muster an army. This was in defiance of the Lord's directive. One man, the king, had disobeyed God but his actions affected thousands of innocent citizens. A plague broke out and many people died. These two accounts are found in the Bible in 2 Samuel 21 and 24. So punishment from sin can be our fault or due to previous leaders.
In each instance, the punishment from God on Israel was halted only after a painful atonement or a costly sacrifice. After confessing their sin and asking for mercy, the Lord heard their prayer and healed their land. The cure had to come from heaven because it was heaven that was offended.
Why am I telling this story? Because sin affects America. One specific sin is racial prejudice. Racism has a residual effect on individuals and society. It can exist in the people or in elected leaders. Sin that's not repented of or atoned for can affect our welfare for generations. How is this so? Calamities without a cause seem to come from nowhere and seem to have no cure. When national judgment comes due to unrepented sin, innocent people are harmed along with the guilty. We are one nation.
The quote I began with was by Buckminster Fuller. He was an architect and the inventor of the geodesic dome, like the structure at Epcot Center. Fuller's brilliant discoveries about shapes are still affecting science to this day. Buckyballs are named after him. These are tiny spheres with 60 carbon atoms. Buckyball molecules are just one form of pure carbon. Like nanotubes, they are an important new discovery for science.
Why did I quote Buckminster Fuller? His amazing statement was about geodesic structures and their unique strength. However, we can apply his idea to many other things that matter a great deal. For instance, what about systems of government? What about churches? Or schools? Or two-parent families? Reformers are often angry at the present reality or idealistic in touting unproven ideas. For instance, if you want to redefine the family, you'll first need evidence of a good model that works better. If you wish to reform something or make anything better, I suggest you build a working model of it before tearing down the old system. Your so-called cure may be worse than the disease.
Let's apply Fuller's idea to racial unrest. What do the protesters over racial injustice want? What can replace the present system? What's the end game? Have they shown us a model of what they want? I think everything they want, ideally and rightfully so, is found in the kingdom of God: The counterculture that Jesus declared and displayed among his followers - a good and loving society that exhibits righteousness, peace, and joy. Jesus has shown us the way: gospel salt and light.
--RON WOOD IS A RETIRED PASTOR AND AUTHOR. CONTACT HIM AT [email protected] OR VISIT WWW.TOUCHEDBYGRACE.ORG OR FOLLOW HIM AT TOUCHED BY GRACE ON FACEBOOK. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR.