It’s been a year since the death of George Floyd which accelerated the need to recognize the devastating effects of racism throughout the world. A year on and the outrage has quietened down, the killer convicted and imprisoned. But racism still exists and will continue to do so until the Lord returns.
The weight of the problem is still being felt by those it affects; but new and disturbing theories have also been propelled into the limelight. Issues which, for too long, have been stifled have finally been aired – this is surely a positive. More and more people are willing to engage in conversations which both acknowledge and address racial Issues. However, the negatives far outweigh those positives. Blame and labelling is allotted to every white person and anyone else who doesn’t agree with the BLM agenda, hypocrisy is rife, violence and crime encouraged. Our culture although seemingly supportive belies the growing resentment rumbling underneath.
Recently I had an honest and thought-provoking conversation with a couple of friends about race and they admitted that it was hard to put into words how difficult and confusing this subject matter is for them. They know racism exists and they’re horrified by it, but the new theories such as critical race theory, label them as racist, when they’re not. They want to help and understand, they see the horrors of racism but the fear of getting it wrong restricts them. Being marked as racist has serious repercussions. So, through fear they’re forced to comply to the pressures put upon them by these organisation even though they don’t necessarily understand or agree with their policies and demands. Please find a really useful post on this below.
The culture we live in – is oppressive – freedom of speech is being snatched away in the name of equality, truth is now subjective, and reality no longer exists. It is scary. BUT this is what happens when we look to man for the answers instead of to scripture - whether we are black or white. Power and pride demean and refuse to recognise a person’s value.
The Dutch theologian Bavinck puts it like this
… In this way Scripture explains the coming into being of nations and peoples and of tongues and languages. And. Indeed, the astonishing division of mankind is a singular and inexplicable fact. People who come from the same two parents have the same spirit and the same soul, and share the same flesh and blood, such people come to stand over and against each other as strangers. They do not understand each other and cannot communicate with each other. Moreover, mankind is divided into races that challenge each other’s existence, are determined to destroy each other and live, century in and century out, in cold or open warfare. Race instinct, sense of nationality, enmity, and hatred these are the divisive forces between peoples. This is an astonishing punishment and a terrible judgement, and cannot be undone by any cosmopolitanism or leagues of peace, by any universal language nor by any world state or international culture.
Through the Eyes of a Child
When I look at my friends and family, I see beautiful diversity, Indian, Chinese, African, Caribbean and English – friends from the palest of pale to the darkest of dark and all the most glorious shades in-between, all beautiful and made in the image of God. In my workplace different cultures merge together seamlessly, as we recognise the value of each person. However as I work in a school the best place to watch diversity mixing effortlessly is in the school playground. Children unaffected by the colour of their friends skin or what they’re wearing, oblivious to the fact of the beauty of what they so easily do, welcoming each other, laughing, playing, skipping, the only thing they’re interested in are the similarities, not the differences. Inquisitiveness and curiosity brings them together and doesn’t tear them apart.
We have lessons to learn from children, they see a person and treat them as they deserve - kindly and inclusively, sharing and having fun. Admittedly there are a few that get left out but it’s normally because of different interests or behaviour not because of colour. There’s no pride, no power struggles just shared appreciation.
There’s no room for racism for Christians and no room for blind assumption and misrepresentations.
While we might learn a few things from our children, as Christians we have the privilege to see things from a biblical view, from the Creators view. There’s no room for racism for Christians and no room for blind assumption and misrepresentations. Because we know that every person is created in the image of God, we know every person has intrinsic value. For us it’s about valuing each person God has made and treating them as they deserve or even better than they deserve. We’re instructed as Christians to display Gods love to each other, to treat our neighbours as ourselves; we give generously, we help, we serve, we respect, we are to raise people up; show no partiality, to show care and compassion we’re to humble ourselves and our aim is to encourage and build up, which is the complete opposite of racism and slander both of which are rooted in hate and pride with their combined agendas of tearing down to judge, degrade, hurt, and humiliate whether physically, verbally or mentally and so cause serious distress.
No matter what the skin colour or facial features or hair textures or other genetic or cultural traits, every human being in every ethnic group has an immortal soul in the image of God: a mind with unique, God like reasoning powers, a heart with capacities for moral judgments and spiritual affections, and a potential for relationship with God that transforms us into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. This ‘image of God’ sets every person utterly apart from the animals, which God has made. Every human being - whatever colour, shape, age, gender, intelligence, health, or social class – is made in the image of God.
(John Piper, Bloodlines)
Mankind, as the pinnacle of God’s creation, could all appear to be very similar, but God chose diversity. The beauty of the diversity we see in the world reflects Gods amazing power and brings glory to him. There is a richness and wealth in variety that reveals the power and wonder of God. Just as we have diversity in nature, trees and flowers and animals all bearing witness of Him, so too does the diversity in man. This diversity shows that God cannot be constrained, it reveals His inclusivity and His complexities, His uniqueness, the vastness and variety of His character and His sovereignty. We see His order and preservation and it is good.
Racism = Sinful Heart
It would be remiss of me not to emphasise that racism surrounds us, people struggle with it every day. There are those that struggle with the sin of it and those who struggle with the outworkings of those sins.
‘Racism is an explicit or implicit belief or practise that qualitatively distinguishes or values one race over other races.’ The focus of this definition is on the heart and behaviour of the racist. The heart that believes one race is more valuable than another is a sinful heart. And that sin is called racism. The behaviour that distinguishes one race as more valuable than another is a sinful behaviour. And that sin is called racism.
John Piper Bloodlines
Sin dwells within our hearts and unfortunately man, unlike God, looks at the outward appearance and makes a judgement. Pride, (which is the root of racism) greed, oppression, shame, belittling and hatred surround us all and causes us to treat people in sinful ways. The only way this can be changed is through Jesus. Those of us who know Christ as our Lord and Saviour are all united by the blood of Jesus, this is our identity, this is our foundation. So then with the Holy Spirit in our lives we can do what God calls us to do - bear the characteristics that define the Christian: gentleness; kindness; forbearance; patience; self-discipline; hope; humility; compassion; being salt and light in the world. The world should look at the church and see what the world without racism looks like. We are to be his ambassadors. We are to show people God.
Racism is evil. Let all God’s people say, “Amen.” And as his people, we must not forsake love when we feel unloved; we must not commit injustice in response to injustice. When we refuse to assume the worst of each other (both with regards to racism and suspicions of racism), we encourage relationships rather than destroy them. We seek justice instead of dismissing it. And above all, we work to see Christ preeminent in all things.
'Let all the peoples praise you O God!'