One common thread throughout mankind is the endemic ugliness of racism.
Human history is rife with examples: early Romans subjugated the Jews; slavery was rampant; India’s caste system ostracizes the untouchables; Japanese immigrants to Canada and the United States were rounded up and forced into internment camps; indigenous peoples in Canada, Australia, the United States live amid poverty and discrimination; Germany oversaw the murder of Jews, political prisoners, homosexuals, and the mentally disabled; colonialism and apartheid ruled South Africa; Jim Crow laws ruled the south, and today in North America, African-Americans have risen up to demand an end to systemic racism, their action propelled by a wave of police shootings of black men.
Meanwhile, white America reels as black vigilantes assassinate white and black police officers in retaliation, as Black Lives Matter assumes centre stage in the public arena.
The question I pose is whether Christians should believe and act upon the notion that racial injustice is a gospel issue that deserves our energy and attention. I believe it is.
How could it not be when the spirit-breathed Word of God tells us that Christians should be peacemakers: “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building.” Romans 14:19
We are told to forgive those who do harm to us and treat our enemies with love. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12
Admittedly, these are difficult aspirations for flawed mortals to embrace, but the message of the Gospel demands the abolition of discrimination of any kind, be it sexism, homophobia, ageism, disablism, fat-shaming, or religious discrimination.
When Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the commandments of God, men and women had no difficulty understanding the Sixth Commandment: “Thou Shall Not Kill.” Later, in the Gospel of John we read: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3:15
Jesus Christ, delivering his Sermon on the Mount, admonished his followers: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:43-45
It seems there are so many ways that people hurt people, often inadvertently, but the pain remains the same. Is the Church of Jesus Christ prepared to tackle this difficult issue?
Following on the heels of a Sunnyvale, California church, a congregation in Concord, North Carolina is taking action to defeat the affliction of racism. Based on the 12-Step program of Alcoholics Anonymous, this predominantly white church invites their members and the public to join weekly meetings of Racists Anonymous, encouraging and fostering this decidedly uncomfortable conversation. Pastor Nathan King reports that the meetings attract old and young, those admittedly racist, and others who are unsure or believe they may have a problem.
The only sure remedy for racism is the love of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Christ has the power to transform our understanding of race and discrimination. We must confront it, name it, shame it, and banish it forever.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang