The Biblical Response to Racism

by Scott Huckaby

The event which most stands out in showing we have extreme differences between the races in this country is the O.J. Simpson trial. The realization of the wide gap between what blacks and whites believe about Simpson's guilt or innocence was a shock to most Americans. It is now hard to avoid the conclusion that racism is a problem in the U.S. as in many parts of the world.

Racism should be no surprise

The rise of racism should not be a surprise to Christians who are watching for the return of Jesus Christ. We know that society will not get better prior to the Lord's return, the apostle Paul said it would get worse in 2 Timothy 3:1-5,13. Jesus Christ cited racial strife as one of the signs of His soon return in Matthew 24:7, "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." The Greek word from the original text translated "nation" is "ethnos" which means a people or race.

Man's wisdom will fail

Secular pundits believe we can stem the tide of racial conflict through human efforts. However, God told us we can not solve such problems through our own wisdom (Jeremiah 9:23). Christians know that peace will not come to this world until the Lord returns when, "He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (Isaiah 2:4)

The worsening condition of this world presents growing opportunities for Christians to provide a living testimony. The gospel of Christ is the only solution to the problem of racism. The Lord teaches us to have "agape" love in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. The Greek word "agape" is the type of selfless, sacrificial love God has shown us in Jesus Christ. This is the kind of love Christians aspire to show toward God and other people.

The love of Jesus is the solution

Jesus reminded the Pharisees of the great commandment, "you shall love your neighbor as yourself" in Matthew 22:39. The Pharisees being the legalists they were responded by asking, "And who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29). Christ answered this with the parable of the good Samaritan who helped a Jew who had been mugged. The Samaritan helped the Jew despite the hatred between the two races (Luke 10:30-37). This teaches that everyone is our neighbor and we should even love those who hate us (Matthew 5:44).

How God views the races

The apostles had to deal with racial conflict between the Jews and Gentiles in the early church. They emphasized that, regardless of one's background, God, "made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9). God revealed this to the church through Peter who said, "in truth I perceive that God shows no partiality." (Acts 10:34 & 1 Peter 1:17) Paul taught the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles, "for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes" (Romans 1:16).

Paul also taught that, "there is no partiality with God" (Romans 2:11, Ephesians 6:9, & Colossians 3:25). James said that having prejudices about people different from us was sin (James 2:1-9). The agape love of Christ in us prevents the "evil thoughts" that come with prejudices and become the rationalizations for racism (James 2:4). When we have prejudices, we are judging others which is sin, "for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things." (Romans 2:1; see also James 4:11-12)

If we are true followers of Christ, we will obey his command to, "make disciples of all the nations" regardless of race (Matthew 28:19). All races will be represented in heaven, "out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). The Bible tells us that all men were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). "Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously with one another by profaning the covenant of the fathers?" (Malachi 2:10)

The more excellent way

Jesus Christ has given us, "a more excellent way" (1 Cor 12:31) than the path taken by most people in this world. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)

If you have not done so already, I encourage you to invite Christ into your life today. Don't put it off, the events of this world show that Christ could return at any time. God said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever" (Genesis 6:3). "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2). The span of our lives in this world is but a vapor and, "you do not know what will happen tomorrow." (James 4:14)