I stammered for words when my youngest son piped up behind me, “Mommy, why aren’t they helping?” If I had heard him approach, I might have been tempted to shield him from the video of protesters and police colliding.
How do I explain the brokenness in our world to an eleven-year-old boy who has very little real-life experience with racism? How do I do justice to such a complex issue with only a few words?
What is the Christian response to racism?
In past weeks we have witnessed the best of humanity alongside the worst of humanity in a poignant display of both brokenness and healing.
We read about both violent mobs met with police brutality and communities coming together in marvelous displays of unity like groceries lined up on a sidewalk, cookouts hosted for police, good officers kneeling alongside peaceful protestors. Two realities in simultaneous existence. And so many of us left wondering, how do we help bridge the gap?
What is our place as Christ-followers in all of this?
The Christian Response to Racism
We recognize sin as the ultimate issue, the culprit lurking behind the scenes. Yes, the problem is ultimately a spiritual one. After all, Scripture records we are all created in the image of God. Inherently, our dignity (and the dignity of others) stems from the Creator himself.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 (NIV)
Yet even in the midst of a sin-filled world, we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus!
Jesus, who healed the blind and the lame, who acknowledged the unclean, who dined with sinners, who touched the diseased. Jesus, who prevented the stoning of a guilty woman and who rebuked the false religion of the Pharisees of His day. Jesus, who addressed both physical and spiritual issues and never shied away from our messy humanity.
Jesus, friend of sinners and outcasts, who laid down His life to make us whole and free.
It’s not enough to simply acknowledge God’s truth. We should also be acting on it.
Minister’s of Reconciliation
As followers of Christ, we are commanded to act as “minister’s of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) restorers of human dignity, comforters of the poor in spirit.
Just as Christ ministered to the “least of these,” so we, too, as His ambassadors, bear the responsibility of advocating for mercy and justice for all people, not just those we like, those who think and act like us, or even those who look like us.
“ Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NIV)
What is required of God’s people? Not the undesired sacrifices we so often want to make in place of the things God really wants from us, but to “act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
How Christians Can Love God’s Way
“Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” Proverbs 14:31 (NIV)
“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31 (NIV)
Friends, this is how we actively demonstrate the gospel to the world around us. We live it out day by day, moment by moment, remembering we are all created in the image of God.
As we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, we share the Good News that we are all one in Christ! Bringing this hope to others is key to restoring their God-given dignity.
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28 (NIV)
Church, now is the time to be the “city on a hill,” to serve as an example to the world around us of how to treat others who differ from us. Now is the time to show a church united, congregations that who as families, buildings where all are welcome, regardless of belief, status, or looks. Now is the time to love because “He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Lest anyone misunderstand, I’m not asking believers to water down the gospel or treat sin as tolerable, but to preach the Good News that frees us from all sin, even the sin of racism and self-righteous thinking.
The Perspective on Human Worth All Christians Need
As we mourn a man who struggled for breath and a nation torn apart, let’s remember it was God’s breath that brought man to life in the first place. Let’s remember all people have worth in Him. Let’s remember the mercy we ourselves have been shown.
“Help us to remember we are all the least of these, Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees.” (Jesus Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns)
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