Responding Biblically to Racism
Events in Charlottesville remind us that ultimately the solution to racism comes when hearts are transformed.
Do not be overcome by evil (Romans 12:21a).
There may be other words that describe what we all saw take place recently in Charlottesville, Virginia. But at its core, the demonstration of racism and white supremacy was a bold manifestation of the worst of humanity. It was evil.
As we think about our response to these events, and as we talk with our children about them, our thinking and our conversations should be directed by what we read in the Bible.
1. Racism is satanic. The source of all racism and white supremacy is the person the Bible describes as the father of lies (John 8:44). Racism is demonic. It’s diabolical. To believe that one group of people has more value or worth than another is the spirit of antichrist.
What the racists in Charlottesville were espousing puts them in league with the devil himself. It also grieves the heart of God.
2. The sin of racism is a sin against God Himself. It is God who created us in His image, after His likeness (Genesis 1:27). Every person on earth is an image bearer of God. So to suggest that any group of people is in some way inferior or sub-human is to blaspheme the God who created them. It is to degrade His image.
Racisim or hatred is a complete contradiction of God’s character, and hinders one’s ability to even know Him. First John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” This is a great principle to teach our children.
3. This kind of evil is present in your heart, too. As we find ourselves appropriately enraged and grieved by what we saw on our TV screens this past weekend, we should be sobered by the reminder that each of us is capable of this kind of evil.
Jesus spoke about this in the Sermon on the Mount when He said, “I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5:22). Beware of allowing your anger to stir in you a sense of your own righteousness. If you wind up thinking that you are in some way superior to the racists who were protesting, you will be falling into the same sin of superiority that they were manifesting.
4. Christians must publicly, humbly, and boldly stand against racism. Followers of Jesus should be at the forefront of the chorus speaking out against what has taken place. Especially when white supremacist groups claim that what they’re espousing is somehow a Christian way of thinking. There should be no equivocation on this. No nuance. We must speak clearly and forcefully in proclaiming that all men and women bear the imago dei—the image of God.
5. Overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21b). Outrage is one thing. But a culture is not transformed by feelings of outrage.
As David Nasser wrote this weekend, we should seek to turn our outrage into outreach. Ask yourself, What is one way I can tangibly express or demonstrate my love today for someone who is different than me? As one hymn writer reminded us more than a century ago, it’s not with sword’s loud clashing or roll of stirring drums, but with deeds of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes. How can you turn your outrage into outreach today?
6. Be intentionally multicultural in your relationships. Our children learn about life and values and what matters most by how they see their parents live and the choices we make. We can tell them that God created men and women of all races with equal dignity and worth. And we should.
But do we spend time with friends who do not look like us? Are there any subtle ways we communicate that people who are a different ethnicity are somehow less valuable or have less dignity than we do? Are there proactive steps we can take this week to communicate to our children that just as God loves all people, so do we?
Ultimately, the solution to the problem of racism is for the hearts of men and women to be transformed by the good news that God has a great gift for all who will trust in Him. It’s the gift of grace—unmerited favor. It’s the gift God offers to unworthy, rebellious people. It’s the gift He offers to the racists who will repent and believe His message. It’s the gift He offers to the self-righteous person who thinks he’s better than others.
That gift of grace is a transforming gift. It makes men and women new people who are now alive to God as sons and daughters. It’s a free gift, given to all who will present themselves as slaves to God and to righteousness (Romans 6:16-18).
There is a day coming when racism will end, when a great multitude of people from every tongue and tribe and nation will gather together to join their voices to cry out, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!”
May God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
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