To Hell With Racism
The violent outbursts that took place this past Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia have left us all stunned, saddened, and angered. The images of thrown debris, pepper spray, swinging clubs, and bodies flying as a car was driven into the crowd are enough to make one recoil with pure horror. With over 30 injured and one dead, the events are nothing but tragic and heartbreaking.
The racist roots of this event cannot be overlooked. Things went wild when a group of Alt Right protestors (those who believe in the supremacy of whites) was met by an equally passionate mob of the antifa (those who aim to confront racism, by force if necessary). Moments later chaos ensued, and the Charlottesville police force seemed unable to contain the mess. The resulting bloodshed will be on everyone’s mind for the foreseeable future, and rightfully so.
President Trump was criticized for not condemning the racism strongly enough. In his initial press conference, he specifically did not mention any of the groups involved and barely whispered a hint of any racial undertones. It seemed as if he was avoiding it on purpose, and many were quick to assign motives for such misleading talk.
Such an approach is one I cannot accept. My job is not to be a political analyst, and my concerns for this issue are not mainly political in nature. I am a follower of Jesus first and foremost, and as such I believe it is my responsibility to speak up against such evil and violence with conviction, truth, and hope. To my knowledge I have never written explicitly against racism on this blog, something that is not exactly intentional but perhaps overdue to be addressed.
Let me say it clearly: racism is evil. Biblically, it is a sin against God and other human beings. To treat another person as lesser-than simply because of their ethnicity or the colour of their skin—or any reason for that matter—is wicked and vile. Racism has a long history not only in America, but all over the world and all throughout human history. It has always existed and will continue to exist as long as sin remains in this world. But that does not mean we should accept it or fail to fight it. Quite the contrary. We have a moral obligation to oppose it, even at great cost to ourselves.
There are some who have tried to sanction their racism as being an expression of their faith or religious beliefs. This effectively amounts to a double-sin. Anyone who attempts to link their racist thoughts or actions to the Bible, serving God, or Christianity, are either sorely mistaken or intentionally deceitful. They are assigning evil to God, thus adding to their guilt.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20)
Christians have not always been innocent of racism. I am not naive to this fact and I am not happy about it. But a true reading of Scripture makes it clear that racism is morally wrong and punishable by God. It is one expression among many of the fallen nature of man, and certainly one of the most grotesque ones at that.
The Bible declares that human beings are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and therefore have inherent dignity, value, and worth. Showing prejudice against others is considered a sin (James 2:9), and God himself shows no partiality toward anyone (Romans 2:11). One reason Jesus Christ came was to break down “the dividing wall of hostility” between people groups and create one human race under his loving rule (Ephesians 2:14). God’s offer of salvation is open to any person from any people group without exception (Galatians 3:28). Heaven will one day be the most multi-ethnic place in the universe, filled with people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9). The final state of mankind will be one where racism and all sin is eradicated and God reigns over those who love him and follow Christ, living in perfect peace and harmony (Revelation 21:1-4). Until that time we are to treat others as we wish to be treated (Matthew 7:12) and share the gospel with every people group on the planet (Matthew 28:18-20).
It appeared to many that all hell broke loose when violence erupted in Charlottesville. This is not exactly true. All hell broke loose a long time ago when sin entered into the world. Racism is evil and therefore will one day be banned forever to hell, exactly where it belongs. When I say, “to hell with racism”, I mean it quite literally.
Until then, I am calling on my brothers and sisters in Christ to take a stand against racism. We have the most potent weapon against it of all—the gospel of Jesus Christ. This gospel is the good news that God forgives sinners and makes them a part of his family. God is unifying this broken humanity in which we live, and of which we are a part, and redeeming it for his glory and our good. I am a part of that story, and I invite you to be a part of it too. We cannot be silent or fearful in such times. Love compels us to speak up and seek change.
I would like to add one final thing. To those who are racist themselves, who believe they are superior to another based on ethnicity, I say this: I do not hate you. Others might, but they should not hate you either. Hate cannot be overcome by hate. It can only be overcome by love. Not only do I not hate you, I actually love you. And far more importantly, God loves you too. He desires better for you than the pride of racism that you are living in. He is calling you away from the darkness and into his light. God will forgive you of your sin if you repent and follow Christ. He will begin to heal the hate that enslaves you and set you free to love and be loved. There is a better way. You can choose it if you want to. But please know that to reject his offer is to reject him personally, and that will not end well for you. As far as I can search my own heart, I am not a racist person. But that does not mean my hands are clean. I am a guilty sinner like everyone else. I do not speak to you from a position of superiority—that itself would be sinful pride! Instead, I am inviting you to find what I have found: new life in Christ, a place where sinners can be forgiven and renewed by the power of God. In Christ there are no favourites, but we are all precious in his sight. You cannot redeem yourself, but you can be redeemed. And you need to be redeemed. There is hope. Don’t let it pass you by.