Begin with God. Racism—discrimination or antagonism directed toward people of another race—is sin. This is not new to America and the recent riots surrounding the shooting of Jacob Blake suggest it’s a problem that won’t go away. Success in one generation does not always lead to greater success in the next because we don’t dig deep enough to get the root of the problem. The Bible says all people are made in the image of God (Genesis 1.26-28) and there is only one race, the human race (Acts 17.26). To discriminate or exercise prejudice toward another is not simply a sin against them but against God (Psalm 51.4). Until we see racism, like all other sin, as an offense to the God we serve we will not be in a place to make real progress.
Require more than politics. A majority of Americans of all skin colors believe race relations have gotten worse, not better. And although they’ve reached a fever pitch in recent days, these beliefs predate the last six months. As Christians our faith should extend to the public square but not be defined by it. The church’s mission is not to legislate morality but to help change hearts—to help connect people to the only message that can bring true healing. This work is slower and rarely makes the nightly news, but it’s the only real solution to lasting change. The truth is all lives matter, but until this becomes a lived conviction, not a counter slogan, we won’t be a part of any lasting change.
Can only be truly healed through the cross of Jesus Christ. Racism has taken on new forms over time, but it’s been a reality throughout human history—including the early church. The Jewish people were open to the message of Jesus the Messiah–it was the extension of the message to gentiles that they found so offensive (Luke 4.22-29; Acts 22.21-22). God’s choice of Israel as his servant (the doctrine of election) was twisted into a belief of superiority. Even the apostles had come to believe this ancient ideology (Acts 10.34-35). Only an act of God can put an end to this kind of hostility, can open our eyes to the truth about ourselves and others. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility (Ephesians 2.14-16).
Require moral courage and conviction. It’s important for us to remember that the world—as a system—is organized against God and his purposes (1 John 2.15-17). God loves the people of the world (John 3.16) but is opposed to the values that are its operating system. I believe if lasting change is to take place in race relations in our country it should be led by the church, by people who have experienced true forgiveness and have had their eyes opened to ultimate reality, the kingdom of God (John 3.3). But let’s keep in mind that in the kingdom of God the way up is down. We’re supposed to first pick up our cross, not our placard. We need to work to mitigate suffering (Luke 4.18), but we’re also called to embrace it (Luke 9.23-24). So let’s get down on our knees and seek God’s help and then take up our cross and follow Jesus into a world of need all around us. This is not an easy work or a fast one, but with our God all things are possible.
Praying with you and for you,