How To Neighbor
Whether we like it or not, racism is a part of every society and has been for thousands of years. In order for the gospel of Christ to advance, it must break through barriers. Racism is one of these barriers that must be kicked over because there is no place for racism in this world and there surely will be no racism in the world to come. Racism stems from the sinful notions that some colors are better than others, that some cultures are better than others, that some physical features are better than others, or that one gender is better than the other. The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that in Christ there is no room for any of these notions. The Apostle Paul expressed it to the Galatians in no uncertain terms: “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28)
Bottom Line: Racism is not a skin issue, it is a sin issue.
Something To Talk About:
Most people don’t see themselves as racist. They have business colleagues and friends of color and different backgrounds. They can’t come up with a time that they intentionally discriminated against someone on the grounds of their race, creed or religion. Racism is seen as something more overt, obvious in their hatred and discrimination of others. But racism can be more subtle, less obvious. Racism isn’t just the presence of hatred. It is the absence of love. So how do we neighbor those who are different from us? There are three points to consider:
- Intentionally seek to love those different from you: We have become almost immune to violence in the news such as the shootings of 50 people in Orlando. It appears that the foundation of this horrific event is the inability to love someone different from ourselves. What Jesus says about love forces us to open the door to honest evaluation and tangible change. Jesus did not place a standard on the kinds of people He would love and care for. In fact, if he did have bias, it was towards those who were ignored, discarded, or undervalued. Christ calls us to love selflessly and ceaselessly regardless of how different the person is. We need to intentionally love people regardless of race, socioeconomics, ethnicity, culture, religion, politics, or any other difference. Consider this question: Will I make it to the end of my life having loved only those who loved me back?
- Recognize our prejudices: Prejudice. It’s an ugly word—an attitude that we can easily discern and usually recoil from in other people, but find very difficult to admit to in ourselves. We all have built-in prejudices that God must break down if we are going to be effective in His service. There are many types of prejudice, but the one that comes first to our minds is racial prejudice. If you are white, you will never be able to totally understand what it feels like to be treated prejudicially simply because your skin is not white. But as Christians, we have a strong obligation to work hard at rooting out any prejudices toward other races, and to extend ourselves to understand and relate to the people of other races. That applies to all prejudices. We may be shocked to discover how much we think in prejudicial ways, because our society has built a lot of prejudice into us. But God wants us to see people as individuals, created and loved by Him, of equal importance and value. We must, by His grace, root out the prejudice within us so that we can show the world what God’s love is like. I pray we’ll get serious about facing our own prejudices and asking God to forgive us and teach us to see others as He sees them.
- Seek to understand others: We need to understand those who are different than we are. Sometimes, however, the problem is not so much that we do not understand others, as we do not understand ourselves in terms of our prejudices. Improving your relationship with God and your love for Him will improve your ability to relate to others. As Hebrews reminds us, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25) Most people long to belong. And learning how to create community with others where we are supported, nurtured, and valued is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves. That includes all people, including those who are different than we are. The biggest and best thing we can do is love others and take the time to understand any differences. It doesn’t have to be a huge monumental act. It’s just showing love. It’s showing decency, honor, respect, consideration, treating another human being like another human being. It’s showing the love of Jesus.
- How do you define racism? Have you ever experienced any kind of racism? How did you handle it?
- James 2:9 says: ”But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” How have you and your culture favored some people over others?
- Should every Christian be seeking to reach those who are different or is this just the gift of some? Do I only surround myself with people who think like me, act like me, or believe like me?
- What are some of the culturally different groups in our city that the Lord might want us to reach? What should you do?
- Marty talked about how racism as a sin issue, not a skin issue. Agree or disagree? Why do you think racism is at odds with God’s ways?
- Share an experience that helped you understand things from the perspective of another race.
Take One Thing Home with You:
One of the major issues facing our country and the world is racism. The Bible has an anti-racism passage found in Revelation 7:9 which says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.”
The words of the old Sunday School song come to mind—“Red and Yellow, Black and White, all are precious in His sight.” I believe Clare Herbert Woolston (1856-1927), the Chicago preacher who wrote that song, was exactly right.
The gospel of Jesus Christ and is all about love and impartiality. There is no place for racism in this world and there surely will be no racism in the world to come.