Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Antidote For Racism

Over the years I have spent time in such places as Saudi Arabia, England, Holland, Bahrain, Tokyo, Scotland, Croatia, France, Mexico, Canada, Italy and India, and have traveled all the way from Hawaii to New York. Before my arrival, I have gotten as much information as I could about those places and especially about the people who lived there. If I could talk with someone who had experience in those areas, I might ask, “Tell me about Mexico and Mexicans,” or “Tell me about Croatia and Croats.” I wanted to know as much as I could before arriving to maximize my time there.

Usually I read or was told not only what I should expect to enjoy about those places and people, but what to watch out for: “Saudis are amazingly hospitable, but you can trust them only so far.” “Italians are fun loving and gregarious, but watch out because their anger can flare up in an instant.” Have you ever heard those kinds of generalizations? Have you found them useful?

Most of these generalizations were useful because they were meant to help me navigate in places and cultures that were foreign to me—to decrease my learning curve. Indeed, I think lots of generalizations about people and places are helpful.

But it can start to get a little racist, don’t you think? Maybe we could call it quasi racism, or gentle racism. Maybe not.

But the cure for true racism, the antidote for terrible and injurious generalizations—the kind Reverend Wright and David Duke make—can only be found through faith in Jesus Christ. Only when a man believes that Jesus Christ has been making a new race of people since His resurrection, a holy, blameless and righteous people, a majestic and noble race born of Himself, can anyone be truly free from the visual bondage of what is less. When once a man is gripped by something superior and true, he will let go—even throw away—what he once thought worthy of his grip. This amazing new race has to believed before it can be seen.

Paul wrote about the view for you and me:

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor 5:16,17)

Christians don’t view or think of people only according to how they behave or how they look; we view people by their birth! Anything else and our approach to people will be twisted and inaccurate, and we won’t be living by faith. If people have yet to have a second birth, we know how lost they are. If they’ve had a second birth—they’ve received Jesus—then they’re actually a new kind of people, a chosen people, a royal band of priests, a people belonging to God. Not only are they better off, they’re new.

Peter writes: Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:10)

The great mercy Christians have received is not only forgiveness and righteousness, but newness—we’ve been made regal sons and daughters of God. Remember?

So the question is, what do you believe today? What has your view? Is it what you see—skin color and hair and facial features—or is what you see determined by what you believe about Jesus? That’s the way to live by faith. If, perhaps, you’ve fallen under the influence of the flesh and this world, if you cannot now see this new race of the sons of God, then ask the Spirit to show you what He sees.

That’s the antidote for racism.


  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this. I think that it is really healthy for talk about politics to be on the agenda in conversations about faith. Especially when it is done in a healthy open way such as this post.

    I think there is a lot of thinking and praying and talking that needs to be done amongst the faith community concerning our country. It is almost like for the past ten years or so, we've decided to let the loud voices in Evangelical Christianity think for us, instead of praying and conversing and thinking (with Jesus) for ourselves. I've felt this pressure from the evangelical community that if you don't vote pro-life, you can't be a Christian. But it just didn't ring true in my spirit. I am deeply grieved by the practice of abortion, but surely that is not the *only* thing that matters in a vote!? And so I think that instead of encouraging God's children to pray about our political choices and responsibilities, the issue gets vastly over-simplified. There is no candidate that is perfect, there will always have to be a choice among priorities. It is up to us to prayerfully consider political decisions. And to talk about them! But hopefully not to tell each other that there is only one clear candidate or position that a Christian can vote for.

    Thank you for broadening the conversation and opening it up for the faith community to *think* again.

  2. Anonymous5:24 PM

    Man, do we ever need to hear this.

    Thanks you!

  3. I welcome and appreciate your comments.

    I think that we (Christian leaders) have done a relatively poor job lately of assisting people to what is most important--knowing God. Christianity is not just about Jesus, it IS Jesus. And knowing Him is our highest goal, as well as the biggest target of the enemy.

    I suppose it is no wonder that history shows great swings in the church--during one era, Jesus Himself is everything to the church; and the next, the church is everything to us. A terrible mistake, one that I believe is strategized by the devil.

    If my finger in the wind is at all sensitive, we're beginning to blow back to Jesus being everything.