From Dehumanization to Human
November 27, 2022
Updated November 28, 2022
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I am convinced that the diversity work of the Christian Reformed Church is the humanization of God’s work in the world.
Let me explain.
As part of my training on forgiveness and reconciliation in the East African country of Rwanda, I visited the Genocide Memorial Museum in Kigali. It is just one of 254 registered memorials that are dedicated to remembering the victims of the 1994 killings of the Tutsi by the Hutus. I had no idea how the memorial would affect my understanding of the depth of depravity in the most Christian nation on the continent.
The long rectangular area of the memorial is the final resting place of 250,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus—men, women and children—who were wiped out during the fever pitch of revenge sparked by the downing of the Rwandan president’ plane in spring of 1994. I felt I was standing on holy ground as I read the names of the buried etched in gold onto black granite wall. For the first time, the slaughtered were no longer numbers reported on the evening news but real human beings of worth and value. Silent tears were the only appropriate response I had at this graveyard where neighbors had killed neighbors.
Dehumanization happens when we refuse to recognize the image of God in each other. For the Hutus, revenge appeared to be a better remedy for the years of unfairness and resentment against the Tutsi. This cycle of revenge can only be broken through the power of forgiveness and reconciliation at the cross of Christ who absorbed the wrath of God in order to restore sinful people into the redeemed people of God.
Diversity is the antidote against the deadly dehumanization virus that has affected the U.S. context and beyond. This work towards diversity re-centers us back to God’s original intention for group relationships. The Apostle Peter’s words make a humanizing statement with, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” (Acts 10:34-35)
Thanks be to God that we are accepted into the holy nation of Jesus. Ain’t that good news?
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Thanks for sharing the impact your experience in Rwanda had in shaping the ways you see God is at work reconciling the world to God's self in and through Jesus. Your mention of God's wrath reminded me of the ways those who dehumanize and hate others use God's wrath to legitimize their thoughts and actions ("the curse of Ham" - for example). I'm reminded how careful I need to be when I speak of God's wrath. It helps me to see God's wrath as wrath against sin and sins awful impact on both human with God and human with human relationships - not wrath on humans. Thoughts of 'God's wrath' bring to my mind the family's of Korah, Dathan and Abiram in Numbers 16. Were Korah, Dathan and Abiram's wives and children wiped out because of God's wrath on them? God's wrath against the actions of Korah, Dathan and Abiram's actions is understandable. God being angry with their wives and children is not. Perhaps God's wrath allows that God holds some anger about the awful cost God's reconciling the world to God's self brought within the God's trinitarian self - the cost of the Father denying the Son. This cost of self emptying love provides convincing evidence to me that God's wrath is not wrath on people.
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