The gospel’s answer to racism
If the recent events in Ferguson, Missouri demonstrate anything, they demonstrate that, even today in 2014, racial strife is still alive in segments of our nation. Rivers of blood were shed on American soil during the Civil War, in part to free black slaves and to end the manstealing slave trade which supported the evil of black chattel slavery. The civil rights movement ended the blight of racial segregation. Furthermore, who can deny that a great deal of progress has been made in recent decades in terms of overall improved race relations, at least when compared to earlier times in our nation’s history. But even though we no longer have slavery or racial segregation in this nation; even though people of all races are equal before the law (at least technically-speaking); and even though American voters have elected the first African-American President to serve in office for two terms; nevertheless racism and racial tensions still exist in our society. In addition, many of us still live in largely segregated neighborhoods, and most of us Christians, whether black or white, continue to worship in largely segregated churches.
Race relations in our nation today are quite complex, and I don’t claim to have the expertise to address all of the many issues that surround the problems of racism and race relations in our nation. However, as a minister of the gospel I can say this: Jesus Christ has the power to overcome racist attitudes, and His gospel has the power to heal the racial divides that exist among His followers!
Whether you are black, white, hispanic, asian, bi-racial, or whatever, if you trust in and confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then the Word of God says you are, in fact, spiritually one with your fellow believers in Christ from all over the world, whatever their race, ethnicity, nation, or economic status may happen to be. By His atoning death on the cross the Lord Jesus Christ “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9, ESV; emphasis added)! The Son of God lived, died and rose from the dead to redeem sinners from among every race of mankind! By His sovereign grace He brings His chosen and redeemed ones into the one universal (“catholic”) church, the Body of Christ. That means if we belong to Him, we belong to one another, for we are all distinct members of His one Body (First Corinthians 12:12-31)! “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6, ESV)
If we are, in fact, spiritually one in Christ; and since we will be together for all eternity in the glory of the new heavens and new earth (there will be no segregation in heaven!); why would we harbor racist animosity toward one another here on earth? And why, if we confess the same gospel and God’s providence gives us opportunities to worship together, do we stay apart from each other in our separate, segregated churches? Would it not make sense for our worship here on earth to be a reflection of what worship will be like in heaven?
Racism may be defined as an irrational hatred and animosity toward others simply because their skin color happens to be different. Such racism can be found in people of all races, for people of all races are sinners who need redemption. Some whites hate blacks simply because they are black; some blacks hate whites simply because they are white; etc. In the gospel Jesus Christ is proclaimed as the one and only God-appointed Savior for sinners – whether those sinners be white, black, hispanic, or whatever. Racism is totally incompatible with a faithful confession of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the gospel proclaims to all people that whoever truly believes in Christ for salvation (whether the believer be black, white, whatever) will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The gospel not only reconciles us sinners to God through faith in Christ; it also reconciles us to our brothers and sisters in Christ, whoever they may be; for we are all one in Christ Jesus. May God hasten the day when our churches more consistently reflect this spiritual unity and reconciliation we have in Christ.
“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. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:27-29, ESV)
For a short video that shows worship at one church (Crown & Joy Presbyterian Church, PCA, in Richmond, VA) where the gospel has overcome the racial divide, go to this link: