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Finishing the Racism - Part 2 of “Believing in Fairy Tales: Dispelling Falsehood in the Christian Church”
He Had a Dream
Racism - A Plague Common to all Colors
Just say the word and often debates spring to life and sparks start flying. The subject of ethnic prejudice, oppression and hatred is a fiercely emotional and historic source of schism among our fellow Americans; and indeed with our friends and brethren around the world.
Friends, let me start off by saying that this is not a politically motivated blog or a commentary on any recent events, however pertinent they may be to the discussion. Debating current events is a much lower goal that what I have been given here today.
This is the second installment of the “Believing in fairy tales: dispelling falsehood in the Christian church” series. I chose this title, as I knew it would be timely, attention-grabbing and possibly a bit provocative.
I am blessed to live in a place where racism may exist, but it is far less extreme than in most areas of this country, or possibly in the world. That being said, I have personally witnessed racial prejudice.
I remember vividly as a child seeing a very young (pre-teen) girl standing on a porch about to knock on the door. She was black and she had pedaled her bike to her white friend’s house to visit. I remember the man who owned the house yelling from across the street something to the effect of “what’s that n_ _ _ _ _ doing on my porch”.
The girl immediately left and to my knowledge never came back.
In college I saw a black man hurl steaming hot coffee into the face of a white man because had seen a confederate flag on the wall in his dorm room. And the situation escalated from there.
Our country, like most, has had its share of ethnic strife. And we are not just talking about black and white aggression either. We have seen Italians and Irish hate one another with murderous passion. We’ve seen Somalian immigrants violently hate Sudanese immigrants and vice-verse.
It doesn’t matter if you are “white”, “black”, or some middle shade of brown you’ve almost undoubtedly seen it.
It is a cancer to humanity. It divides a nation like few things do.
It is also a ghastly blemish to the body of Christ here on this earth. I see the presence of racism in a Church setting to be the most unsettling and destructive. And this influence can flow out of a congregation’s walls to infect entire communities.
One Blood: The Biblical Answer to Racism
Bloodlines: Race, Cross and the Christian
Racism - A Plague to Cleanse From the Pulpits
I have not traveled the world. However, I do know that here in the United States we have denominations that blatantly or subtly separate based on racial lines. You see that in some areas of the country every denomination is split up into Korean, African, Cuban, Latino or some other ethnic line. We see some that may not incorporate it into their name, but they represent it in their pews. Sure, demographics of a community will always impact this as well – however, in a diverse community a diverse congregation should exist.
The Gospel was given to make disciples of ALL NATIONS (emphasis added).
It’s even more horrifying that from time to time we see this kind of racism actually get perpetuated from a pulpit. No this is not limited to the Democratic Southern congregations of the mid-1800s. I wish it were. This happens to this day.
Praise God for those congregations who offer services for those who struggle to attend based on language barriers. However, this should be the norm. We are all Christ’s Church – one body.
How could such a lie be accepted and perpetuated for so long?
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
We see that the Lord said from the very beginning of Creation that all men and women were created in His image. This is a very overt statement of equality. This is also a very overt statement of relationship.
God made a people with the capacity for a great deal of diversity because He is expressive and unimaginably creative. God gave us this diversity as a gift, not as a curse. Sin crept into the world and perverted this gift in our eyes.
Jesus Did Not Come For Social Change - Consider the Purpose of Christ's Ministry
Racial Bitterness - The Gospel Offers the Cure
Then you have unbelievers and “Christian” false teachers alike who pervert, twist and misquote the Bible in an attempt to make it appear that it supports racism. God clearly laid out the equality of mankind throughout Scripture. The only line of separation that he ever laid out was that of believers from unbelievers; and only in the context of marriage or worship: the sheep and the goats so to speak.
A reading of the Old Testament and New Testament alike shows that God has always had a great heart for all people, and desired to draw all people into His family. In fact the alien in the Old Testament was to be given a great deal of charity and care.
Let’s take a look at what Scripture says about how we should view our physical differences from the perspective of one Christian to another:
1 Corinthians 12:12-14
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”
“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
“For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Again and again God beats the drum of equality between different ethnic groups. Physical characteristics are irrelevant when it comes to value of a human soul.
When we are in Christ, we all have the same standing. This is blatantly obvious, unavoidable and declared with great authority.
Ken Ham on Racism
The Nazi Embodiment of Racism
Deep-Seated Racial Animosity in America
The Black Panther Party
The Bondage of Racial Hostility
And for those who are unbelievers, all are also in the same standing. Scripture is quite clear:
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”
Sinners are separated from God eternally without the saving grace of Jesus Christ. There is no respect to ethnic groups here. All are considered one.
Yet over history we see so many attempt to twist the Gospel to a racist end. The Dennis Dukes of the world have done this. And the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of the world do this too.
During the period prior to, and lasting through the Holocaust, we see that Adolf Hitler drifted between atheism and paganism. Yet we also clearly see how he attempted to manipulate the Christian Church in Germany to view the Jew as inhuman. We see him attempt to paint Christ in the light of an anti-Semite. In fact Hitler would describe Christ more as a white Aryan, instead of the Hebrew that he was.
In the United States today we see a great deal of bitterness over historical slavery. The emotions are understood. It was a grave injustice.
We also see bitterness towards Arabs. If an Arab Christian (yes they do exist) were to enter an American Church they may very well be greeted with suspicion or distrust. Considering recent history, one can understand the feelings, but it does not make them just or acceptable in Christ’s Church.
In God’s Church we must lead the way. We must be an example to other Christians. And we MUST be the example to our fellow countrymen.
We cannot embrace or accept any form of racism. It simply has no place in Christ’s body.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ – and his amazing love, grace, forgiveness, mercy and atonement – is the only cure for such deeply ingrained prejudices. However, we must be willing to embrace this even if we are the ones who have to give up our own bitterness and retribution first.
To hold animosity, distrust and suspicion towards an entire population is to hold them (and ourselves) in bondage. That’s what Satan does.
We are to be like Christ in thought and deed. To forgive is divine. God tells us not to let any root of bitterness grow between us.
As horrible as recent acts of terrorism have been that were perpetrated by Arabic Muslim terrorists (and others), we cannot look at every Arab as though they have explosives strapped to their chests or in their backpacks. Even if they did, God commands us to love them; pray for them; forgive them; and share the Gospel with them.
As horrible as slavery was in the U.S., and throughout the world, we cannot allow this to continue to cause bitterness, hatred, and discord. And as unjust as racial discrimination has been in law enforcement in the past, that also cannot be allowed to cause us to become bitter. We end up in bondage to the world and to Satan if we allow this.
The only cure is forgiveness and reconciliation in Christ! That’s a tall order, but let me leave you with this thought to think and pray on:
2 Corinthians 3:17b
“… where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
You think about that, and God bless!
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