Right off the bat I want to admit that I did not live through the times of great racial tension in the 1950's and 60's. However, it appears to me that the times we are living in now are some of the most racially charged of my lifetime (1981-present). For that reason I want to approach this topic carefully, yet honestly. Even some of the highest officials in our government claim that we need to have an open and honest discussion about race in our land. Well, here is my open honesty. Please take it with the love and care in which it is intended.
From my point of view, as an evangelical Christian, there is absolutely NO room for racism of any shade in the Gospel of Jesus Christ or His followers. I could very easily stop right there because that just about sums up the truth of the matter. However, I think some further words are necessary. The clearest statement from Scripture on this subject is Galatians 3:28;
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
To find a greater understanding of this verse we need to add a little bit of historical context. In Paul's day it was perfectly acceptable for Jews to despise Gentiles (Greeks). Slavery was another acceptable part of life as was looking down on women. Yet, in this one powerful statement Paul casts all of that aside in order to give us a God's-eye view of reality. Christ was sent to die for one and all no matter their race, gender or social status. That alone should convince us of the God given value that we all have. The real question for the Christian is this; if God can see past skin color, etc. why can't we?
The obvious comeback is that "we aren't God." Indeed, we are not and thank goodness! However, in Matthew 5:48 Jesus tells His disciples, Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Now, clearly this is a virtual impossibility in this life. However, that is what sanctification is all about. We admit our weaknesses and allow the Holy Spirit to form us more and more into God's image with each passing day. The fact that we are sinful by nature has never been a satisfactory excuse for continuing in sin. Friends, racism is sin.
Why is racism sin? Simply put it is you saying you are better than someone else simply because of how you were born. Or, on the flip side, someone else is worse than you are simply because of the way they were born. It is a value judgment that we have no right to make. "But Christian, you don't know what so-and-so did to me and they are a such-and-such." You are absolutely correct, I don't know what someone of a particular race as done to you. What I do know is what we, as humans, did to God and His Son Jesus Christ. Yet, He still looks upon us and loves us regardless. Remember, For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). There is no room, not even an iota, for racism within Christianity...none.
One of the other truths about racism is that it is not an isolated problem. It is not just white people who are racist towards black people. It is not just southern people who are racist against Hispanics. It is not just Jews who are racist against Greeks. It can work in any direction. Sadly, in our nation today it appears to me that we are regressing in the efforts made between whites and blacks. Much like my previous post on love it seems that in order to be found innocent of the charge of racism one is required to simply let a person do whatever they want to do if they are of a certain skin color or national origin. If we don't then we are labeled racist without further exploration into our true character.
I ran into some difficulty with this when I was in seminary. It was said, outright, that all white people are racist to some degree, no matter what they think. This was certainly an interesting revelation to me. Can the same be said for African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Europeans, etc? I believe that in order to truly move forward and away from racism we must not assume racism is present in a person. If their character and actions show that they are racist, then cast judgment but not before. Furthermore, the solution to the problem is not preferential treatment based on ethnicity but equal treatment based on the equality that we share before God. Consider the words of our Founding Fathers,
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal...
Again, I point you to Galatians 3:28. When God looks upon us He looks beyond skin color or ethnicity because He is the one who created us all in a variety of ways. Humanity stands as the crowning achievement of God's creation. There is no hierarchy of race. We are all of the human race.
Racism is one of the most heart-breaking problems I see in the world. It hurts because when I look across the landscape of humanity I see billions of people that Christ came to save. He even told us so in the Great Commission. We are to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, not a select few that look like us. The reality is this, heaven will be populated with all kinds of people. When we get there we are not all going to turn into one homogeneous people, there will be the same variety that God created on earth. So I will close with this thought. If we cannot figure out how to get along with people of various colors and ethnicity on earth, we are going to be severely disappointed in the Kingdom. If you think there will not be black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Arab, and so on in heaven you are tragically mistaken. We need to get it right now so we will have had good practice for eternity.