Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Racism and the gospel

As reported by Tim Challies, Tuesday night's message at Together for the Gospel was on the topic of racism. It was led by Thabiti Anyabwile.

This issue of racism came up for me several months ago when preaching through John 4. In that chapter, Jesus rejected social norms and the prejudices of His day by talking to a Samaritan woman. This event was shocking because (1) she was a Samaritan and (2) she was a woman. She had two strikes against her before she even arrived at the well!
But Jesus approached her with love, humility, and respect. Neither the woman (Jn. 4:9) nor the disciples (Jn. 4:27) could understand why Jesus would talk with her, but Jesus recognized she was created in God's image, and that He had come to seek and save lost people just like her.

As I watch Jesus minister to this Samaritan woman, I am forced to ask myself, "Is it possible that I have racial prejudice?" My immediate answer is, "No, of course not! I've been born and raised in a culture of equality and color-blindness!
And as a Christian, I treat people of all colors and nationalities with dignity!" Or do I? Perhaps, at times, I have harbored racial prejudice deep within my heart. In doing so, I fail to love my neighbor and give glory to God.

Here are some soul-searching questions that may reveal racism:

  • Do I have less compassion on illegal immigrants because they look differently and speak another language?
  • Am I reluctant to adopt a child of a different skin color?
  • Do I make judgments about a person’s intelligence, abilities, etc. based on their ethnicity?
  • Do I frown upon marriages that are 'interracial'?
  • Would I hesitate submitting to a pastor with a different color skin?
  • Do I tolerate humor that ridicules other nationalities?
  • If I boarded an airplane and discovered my seating assignment was next to an Arab man, would I treat that person with any less respect?
  • Would I be willing to incorporate into our worship service styles of music that represent other cultures?
  • Is my conception of Jesus that of a White, Anglo-Saxon?
  • Do I ignore the painful discrimination that people of another skin color have experienced in the past or present? ("weeping with those who weep," Rom. 12:15)
  • Would I be willing to give my life to share Christ with people of another ethnic heritage?
Wretched man that I am! Why would I ever consider my language, or my culture, or my skin color superior in any way? Why would I give preference to people who look or sound like me, while showing prejudice against those who are different? This is just another example of pride. It must be confessed and purged from my thinking.

What does the gospel have to do with all this? Thankfully, Jesus Christ abolished racism, not only in His life, but ultimately in His death. By shedding His blood on the cross, He died for the sins of all humanity and became the "Savior of the world" (Jn. 4:52). With the price of His blood, He purchased for God "men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Rev. 5:9). There is no racism in heaven, and there should be no racism in the church. The final remedy for racism is the cross of Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

David said...

I was thinking recently about illegal's. Interesting how the Bible says we should treat them compared to how the American church does treat them.

Moses said he had become an "alien in a foreign land." Thus the name of his son.

"Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt." Ex. 22:21

This is powerful for us Americans because our forefathers were mistreated in England, Ireland and other nations. Thus we found refuge in this land.

Not advocating any political agenda. Simply speaking to a place where my own heart could be softer.