So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets- Matthew 7:12 ESV
I grew up a bubble.
My family was poor and we lived in small towns in Alaska, Oregon and a short stint in Utah. There were very few minorities in the towns I grew-up in. However, if the town we were living in happened to have a minority population there was a pretty decent chance they lived in the same neighborhood we lived in. I don’t recall much, if any real racial tension in those neighborhoods. Poverty tends to create a bond between kids regardless of race.
My parents invited all kinds of different people into our home and nothing was ever really made of it. People were just people. I don’t recall either of my parents ever using racial slurs. However, I do remember one of my brothers using one once. We all learned pretty quickly that sort of thing just didn’t fly. All-in-all the way my parents handled issues of race was one thing they did really well.
The bubble I grew up in led me to believe that contemporary racism was a myth or at the very least a problem that had been solved with the end of Jim Crow, the dawn of the civil rights movement and programs like affirmative action. Growing up, I knew a few people who said racist things but they were mostly viewed as oddballs and social pariahs. It wasn’t until I moved to the deep south as a young adult that I realized racism is still alive and well. That said, I also observed that the most racist people I knew tended be older. My own children had friends from all races and backgrounds and no one thought anything of it. This reality gave me hope that perhaps racism would die off as older people and the attitudes they had been raised with also died off.
Sadly, racism is still very much alive.
In fact, the problem appears to be getting uglier and more toxic by the day. There are reasons for this. Unfortunately, there are still those (including some Christians) who refuse to let go of sinful attitudes concerning race. Further complicating an already thorny problem, are politicians and community organizers who have learned that division and stoking racism are effective tools to raise money and bring about political change that really has nothing to do with race or fixing the problem of racism.
Christians cannot control what non-Christians do or don’t do. Nor should we even try (1st Corinthians 5:12-13). God will judge the world in due time (Revelation 20:12-13). However, Christians are meant to be an example in all things, including social and moral issues like racism (Ephesians 5:1-3, 1st Timothy 4:12).
Following are five truths Christians must live out daily if we want to see God’s will be done in the arena of race relations (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11):
Commit yourself to judging people only on the content of their character-
Okay, so admittedly the above statement is hardly original. That said, it’s still the only right and just way to judge another human being (Matthew 7:1-2). Christians must never view others through a lens of race. Instead, we should view others as people made in the image of God who have a choice about what they do and how they live. Those who live life well and treat others with respect and dignity deserve admiration. Those who don’t need our prayers. Period.
Understand that violence and hate cannot end violence, hate or injustice-
Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that: Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that and hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that. The world needs to hear the message that attempting to oppose darkness, hate and racism by using race as a political cudgel or as an excuse to riot and violently protest will only make the world a darker place.
Recognize the truth that the sins of past generations cannot and should not be atoned for by the current generation-
God does not punish children for the sins of their parents, grandparents or great-great grandparents (Ezekiel 18) and neither should anyone else. Sadly, sins that were committed by people who are long dead cannot be atoned for, they can only be forgiven and learned from. Forcing atonement through reparations for the evil of slavery will do nothing but create more division and deeper and even more profound wounds that will lead to even more racism.
Self-evaluation is critical (2nd Corinthians 13:5), especially when it comes to attitudes of the heart. Racism is a sinful attitude of the heart we must check for frequently and deal with decisively (Matthew 5:30)
Embrace the reality that the consequences of bad choices are not the same as racism-
When people do stupid things there is often a sad consequence. Running from police or resisting arrest is without question one of the dumbest, most foolish things a persona can do and it often has tragic consequences, regardless of the race of the person running away or resisting arrest. The consequences that result from resisting arrest or running away from a police officer are not racist acts. Even if the officer is white and the person running from the police is not. Period.
It’s time for a rebirth of personal responsibility and commonsense in our world, especially where moral and social issues are concerned. The church must lead the way in showing the world the right way to handle the very thorny issue of race.
It’s our high and holy calling (Acts 2:17).