If one thing should be clear to believers in Jesus Christ, it is that racism is sin.
Any attitude or action that sees one race, one skin color, as superior to another is antithetical to the heart of Scripture from beginning to end.
From Genesis to Revelation.
From creation to consummation.
We are all created in the image of God. We are all meant to display His glory. We all have value. We all bear dignity.
So God created man in His own image;
in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)
Based on this foundational fact, James says that to bless God and to curse His image (another human being) is the epitome of hypocrisy.
With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. (James 3:9-10)
And the apostle Paul ups the ante by saying that not only does every human being bear the image of God but every human being is also someone for whom Jesus Christ died. Thus, we no longer see people based on superficial, external factors but as eternally valuable in the eyes of God.
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. (2 Corinthians 5:14-16a)
Finally, the consummation of the redemptive story shows us the ultimate heart and design of God.
And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10)
Every people group.
Every skin color.
As the Sunday School children’s song taught us from an early age…
Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
Yes, the Christian church has failed throughout the ages to live up to this truth.
Yes, our own “Christian nation” has failed miserably in this regard as well.
Racism is a reality.
The human heart will find any reason to mistreat another.
Skin color is just one of the easiest ways to separate…to segregate…to subjugate.
But this is not the heart of God.
Racism is actually rooted in atheism…in evolutionary theory…in the supposed superiority (or advanced evolution) of one race over another.
Scripturally there is only one race.
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings (Acts 17:26).
So, as a believer, I repudiate racism and the sins that grow from its roots.
I also seek to be a peacemaker, a minister of reconciliation, declaring a message of reconciliation to God–“Be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ!”–and a message of reconciliation to one another in Christ.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation. (Ephesians 2:14)
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
That is why I also reject the major tenets of critical race theory.
It is rooted in postmodernism, rejecting absolute truth. Thus, it judges all structures, institutions, and laws not on the basis of objective truth but on the basis of the hegemony, the particular power or identity group that put them into place.
It is rooted in Marxist thinking, seeking to divide, seeking to separate people into classes, the oppressor and the oppressed, in order to provoke anger and invoke a revolution.
It is rooted in atheism, denying the image of God in all of humanity and denying the reality of sin in the heart of all humanity.
Since it sees the problem as skin deep, then all of its solutions are skin deep as well.
This does not mean that the ugly parts of history should not be taught.
Jim Crow laws.
The Tulsa massacre.
In fact, it means the opposite.
The issue is not what past events are taught but rather why they are taught and how they are taught.
Anyone who has ever been in an argument over a past event can easily testify that the past can be brought up for one of two reasons–to heal or to hurt, to bring understanding or to breed resentment.
History is to be taught in order that we may listen, learn, and leave its past sins behind in the present time.
History should not be taught to latch onto its sins, leverage them for one’s own purposes, and loathe the person or groups or identities that are labeled evil by its teachers.
I remember one of my favorite scenes from my favorite movie, Remember the Titans.
Coach Herman Boone leads his divided, segregated, resentful football team on a 3am run through the woods. As they run together, they find themselves tired, frustrated, and experiencing pain together. Then, when their strength is almost gone and they are too tired to hate one another, they arrive at their destination.
In the midst of gravestones that they had not seen before…with the mist rising all around them…Coach Boone delivers his message.
Anybody know what this place is? This is Gettysburg. This is where they fought the battle of Gettysburg. Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fighting the same fight that we’re still fighting amongst ourselves today. This green field right here was painted red, bubbling with the blood of young boys. Smoke and hot lead pouring right through their bodies. Listen to their souls, men. I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family. You listen and take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together right now, on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed just like they were. … I don’t care if you don’t like each other, but you will respect each other. I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men.
Coach Boone did not ignore history.
He taught it.
But he taught it for a purpose.
To bring his team together.
Not to divide.
To promote healing and reconciliation.
Not to promote resentment and revolution.
The real issue in the movie is not the structure or rules of football.
The real issue is the human heart.
When the heart changes, everything else falls into place.
So, on this Juneteenth day, I acknowledge the sins of the past.
Our nation has often failed.
The church has often failed as well.
But I also give thanks.
The nation that once ignored its own founding principles and enslaved some of its own people has changed. Not only has it repudiated slavery but it has been one of the few nations in the whole history of civilization to actually work to end slavery around the world.
And the church has changed as well. Yes, we still have our divisions but there are more movements toward reconciliation than there have ever been before.
I am thankful to work with one in our own city.
And that is worth celebrating.
And worth bringing a divided nation together once again.