“Debating imperialism is a bit like debating the pros and cons of rape. What can we say? That we really miss it?”
Evidently, the perception of how our society is doing may have something to do with which end of the whip we or our ancestors were on. Colonization is a cool concept for the colonizer… not so cool for the “colonizee”.
An important distinction needs to be made. What God uses through the course of human history and what he approves of as proper conduct for disciples of Jesus Christ can be very different things.
For example, He used the extensive transportation system in place by the time the Apostle Paul set forth with the Gospel message to the nations. That does not imply some tacit, divine approval of the butchery and enslavement used by the Roman Empire to accomplish that feat.
In similar fashion, the rise of the British Empire included missionary activity in her colonies. However, there was steady resistance to those efforts from vested interests in place at the time. Colonization happened. Many people were reached with the Gospel. But at no time was there some divine approval of the oppression, racial condescension and abuse that accompanied it.
Enter the colonizing of what is now the United States and Canada. The cycle was repeated.
Societies are deeply flawed, because as individuals, we are deeply flawed. There is a certain inevitability to the residual effects of colonization. It plays more of a role in present day rifts in our social fabric than we care to give credence to.
Far from assigning blame for what our ancestors may or may not have done, I mean for this to be a challenge:
Followers of Jesus Christ are compelled to go deeper… to reach further. We work to avoid relativistic attitudes and fear mongering. The Gospel trumps nationalism. The Gospel heals discord. Compared to politics and politicians… well, there is no comparison.
Regardless of the history and the negative baggage in our neck of the woods, we are here for one overriding purpose: to understand… to foster empathy… to painstakingly lay the groundwork for a genuine ministry of reconciliation to God (2 Corinthians 5:20). You don’t get there without love, effort, initiative, tears and boots-on-the-ground commitment.
"Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?" (Psalms 77:9)
No, he has not.
Neither should we.