I was having a conversation with some friends who are African-American community leaders. As we discussed racism in our country and state, we all agreed “it is a spiritual problem” for which the only solution is a change of heart. We need God to change hearts! I said I was pleased to hear many leaders in corporate America commit sizable funds to help create greater racial justice in our land. It isn’t that the monies alone will save the day, though I’m sure some positive opportunities can and will be created from the funds. More than the money, I believe in Jesus’ insight that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be as well.” The value of the money is that hearts will follow.
Jeremiah called for hearts to change in his day as well. God’s law had been commanded through Moses and was imposed on the people in the form of stone tablets. But still they sinned, still they disobeyed God’s word. So the prophet envisioned a day when each person would have a changed heart and know right from wrong for themselves with no need for others to tell them. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” Psalm 51 prays. There is always a chance to learn from our mistakes, to do better in seeking and doing God’s will. With God, all things are possible!
Hearts washed from sin by God’s forgiveness. The prophet envisions a fresh start for the community as each one comes to know God’s commandment of love. To make the world a better place, to create greater justice and opportunity for those who have suffered most from historic and systemic racism and prejudice, it will teach each of us and all us. It will take legislation, political and business leadership, family, community and church action. But above all, it will take a change of heart from hatred to love, from judgement to mercy, from division to unity. Our hope and confidence is this: God is in the business of changing hearts in order to make all things new.