After decades of what seemed like progress towards an end to racism, the last few years have been difficult in America. Fear and misunderstandings have escalated ethnic tensions. Assumptions are made on both sides and “love for your neighbor” has been replaced with an ignorant self-righteousness.
It’s a sad day.
But this brings us to an important question – how are we supposed to respond to racism from a biblical Christian perspective?
Racism Has Been Around for Many Millennia
When we dive into the Bible, it doesn’t take long to realize that racism has been around from the earliest parts of human history. Although we don’t know much about history before the flood, it’s very apparent that racism was prevalent during the early development of the Hebrew nation.
It’s not uncommon to hear biblical arguments for racism. People will point to the way that the Israelites treated the Philistines as justification to eliminate people groups that aren’t like us.
Others go to the story of the flood and hypothesize that Noah’s son Ham, who was cursed after disrespecting his dad, became the ancestor of the African continent. This is why Africans have had such a difficult time throughout history – it was “ordained by God,” they say.
These views are very dangerous. Not only are they void of any support, but they are blatantly unbiblical. The reality is, the Old Testament separates people into Jews and Gentiles. God’s desire was for the Jews to be the priests that bring His message to the rest of the world. Christianity (the Church) has been handed the mantle of disseminating God’s message of peace and forgiveness only available through the redemptive work of God’s Son Jesus on Calvary’s Cross.
The basic message is we (humans) broke God’s law the penalty is death, Jesus died to pay our penalty, and He rose from the dead to prove His victory over sin and death.
“All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are affronts to the work of Christ on the cross (Got Questions Ministries, 2016).”
Unfortunately, racism isn’t confined to “Christian” America
As the world has become more secular, evolution has added additional justification for racism. After all, once you believe that greater life forms develop from lesser life forms, it becomes possible to view other people groups as sub-human.
If other ethnicities aren’t even human, then there’s no reason to treat them as such.
Yes, racism is a serious issue – and one with a very long history.
Racism goes against everything Christ represents
Even if there are opportunities to falsely hypothesize about a God-ordained racism in the Old Testament, it completely disappears once we bring Christ into the picture.
John 3:16 says that God came because he loved the entire world. Not one nation, not one people – all of us.
Romans 2:11 tells us that God shows no partiality.
James 2:4 labels those who discriminate as “judges with evil thoughts.”
Luke 10:25-37 tells the story of the Good Samaritan – a man willing to help someone who would have likely walked right past him if the situation was reversed.
And the list goes on and on.
In short, racism is unbiblical. Racism is a sin. If you spend your life fighting against abortion and defending prayer in schools, but have racism in your heart, it’s all for naught.
The single secret to overcoming racism
So here’s the problem – racism is one of the single most challenging sins to overcome.
Why? Because racism isn’t the problem.
Let me repeat myself, racism isn’t the problem. It’s the fruit of a deeper issue.
To focus on racism is like painting a termite infested house. Even if you succeed in making the outward appearance appealing, the inside is still rotten.
Racism isn’t the problem – self-focus is the problem.
Think about it – who’s the most important person in your world? You.
Most of us spend a good 80-90% of our day thinking about ourselves. “I’m hungry, I’m nervous, I’m angry, I’m lonely, I’m embarrassed, I’m not liked, I am liked, etc..”
We subconsciously believe: “I’m the center of my world; I’m the most important person in my world.” And with this mindset, the people I value and respect are the people who are most like me.
If you’re a white Christian male born and raised in the US, we have a lot in common. And, because you’re like me, I naturally respect you more than I would someone who doesn’t match my personal demographic.
The more similarities that someone shares with us (whether it’s the college they attended, their political leanings, favorite musician, religious affiliation, gender, etc.), the more we like them.
It’s human nature. And it’s what we are struggling against.
The only way to eliminate racism in our own lives is to remove ourselves from the center, and place Jesus Christ there instead.
Once Christ is the center of our lives, and the world no longer revolves around ourselves, we stop making decisions from a self-centered perspective. We stop comparing people to ourselves, and we start realizing that we are all fallen human beings who God loves unconditionally.
Suddenly, it’s not about me and my needs, but about God’s desire to see every last one of His children in His Kingdom.
The next time you find yourself thinking less of someone due to their race, sex, religion, or some other prejudice, do two things:
- Take a minute to ponder your own sin and realize how terrible you truly are. Then remember that Jesus Christ loves you so much that He died for you despite these atrocities.
- Next, look at the victim of your thoughts through the eyes of Jesus. We know how He treated others – even those that killed Him - He forgave! Determine how you can treat this person with that same kind of unconditional love. (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 if you need help.)
It’s certainly not easy! Racism and prejudice runs deep within our human hearts. But fortunately we know a very good heart surgeon, and when we go to Him, He is able to surgically remove our sin, anger, and angst, and make us whole again.
From this point forward let’s stop feeding into the growing hostility around race and take a deep look into our own hearts. The easiest way to change the world is to change ourselves into the likeness of Christ – let’s get to it!
Got Questions Ministries. (2016). What does the Bible say about racism, prejudice, and discrimination? Retrieved from gotquestions.org: https://gotquestions.org/racism-Bible.html
Keywords: Is Racism Biblical?, End Racism, Racism Solution