Racism: Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized. -Oxford Dictionary.
What a year we are having. First a pandemic and now riots and upheaval due to anger over racism. As I have thought about what to write I wondered if I should even broach the subject. There are so many opinions, and extraordinarily strong ones at that. What does God say about racism? Actually, not very much specifically. Race or ethnicity is mentioned in the book of Revelation under the title of “nations” or “tongues” as those who are to be saved from these various people groups. The church is commanded to go to “all the world” and preach the gospel, not excluding any group. The two groups of peoples most often referred to in Scripture are the Jews, and everybody else (gentiles). We see languages created as a result of man’s rebellion at the tower of Babel in Genesis. So, God does recognize differences in language, culture and His special calling out of a particular group of people for His purpose. But the overwhelming truth of God’s word reveals that we are all of one race – the human race.
When God created man He said, regarding what He had made, “it is very good”. God’s ultimate creation was man, not the universe, not the earth, nor any of the animals. God created man in His image (Gen. 1:26). Humans are the image-bearers of God, though that image has been marred by sin. People are precious to God and all people are special. This fact has not diminished nor changed. In fact, we see God doing everything necessary to redeem His creation and get His family back.
So, what about racism? What is it? How should we respond to it? In a word, racism is sin. It is the outworking of the sinfulness of a rebel’s heart. Hatred is an inherent part of fallen man and has been with us since Cain killed Abel out of jealousy. It is pride, considering myself better than others simply because they are not like me. It is not new nor will it be eradicated until the sinfulness of man is finally removed when Christ returns. The idea of people being inferior to each other is a concept completely and utterly foreign to God’s design. Racial injustice should be condemned and eradicated. The goal of seeing all people equal and treating them on that basis is noble. The goal of removing racism in our institutions is worth our best efforts and energy. Lofty as these goals are, they fall short. We as believers should be at the forefront of seeing these changes made in our society, but if this is all we do, then our best efforts are insufficient.
The solution to man’s sinfulness is simple yet infinitely profound. Paul made that clear when he stated that “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). His ministry was that of reconciliation, stating that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. The Lord has given Paul (and us) that word of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18, 19). The answers to racism do not lie with the world nor its lofty goals but with the message that Christ died to save sinners. Often this is not the answer that people want to hear, but it is the only answer that will effect real change. Our nation is one that has removed God from the public discourse. It has embraced the god of humanism and materialism. As a nation, the slaughter of millions of unborn children does not even warrant a glance except when it is highlighted by those who love life. Our nation is a pagan land worshiping at the altar of man. So, for those who know The Way, the Truth and the Life, we have a great opportunity. We are here on this earth with a commission to take the Gospel of the glorious light of Jesus to our own dark land. We must be bold and clear; our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). The stakes are too high to do otherwise.