What Does the Bible Say about Racism (Part Three)
In part one, I showed how the scriptures clearly teach that there is one human race, not several. This undermines the modern concept notion of races, making it impossible for one race to be superior to another. In part two we explored the source of the modern concept of racism. In this post, we we will explore what believers are called to do in response to racism and its effects under the four questions below.
What does Cain teach us about racism?
Are you familiar with the account of Cain and Abel? One of the key moments of that story comes when the Lord confronted Cain.
Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The fact that we have one common ancestor means the story of Cain and Abel has relevance to what we call racial issues, because the real descendants of Cain are those who act as if they are not their brother’s keeper. If we all descend from Adam and Eve, we are all brothers and sisters and therefore have a responsibility to care for one another.
If we all descend from Adam and Eve, we are all brothers and sisters and therefore have a responsibility to care for one another.
What does Abel’s blood teach us about racism?
Our brother’s blood cries out to God from the ground on which it was spilled.
The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. (Genesis 4:10)
Injustice gets the Lord’s (YHWH’s) attention. Even though Abel was already dead, his blood was still speaking. The injustice of his fleeting life was not forgotten by the Lord. The blood of many Native American and African-American brothers and sisters that has been spilled over centuries also cries out to God from the ground. As Abraham’s question tells us, “the Judge of all the earth will do what is right”! (Genesis 18:25)
Among those reading this post, many might object that neither you nor your ancestors have directly committed a crime against Native Americans or African-Americans. However, as believers, Jesus has called us to live in the Year of Jubilee (Luke 4:18-20) and that, according to Luke 6:20-38, means that we who have been forgiven our debts live lives that are constantly releasing others from their debts—whether those debts be in the form of sins that need forgiving, loans that need to be marked “satisfied,” or a lost inheritances that needs restoring.
Even though Abel was already dead, his blood was still speaking.
We have a responsibility as Christians, whether we are black, white, or any other color, to work actively at restoring the poor to their inheritance; to bring to them the Year of Jubilee, the year of the Lord’s favor in which debts are released and inheritances restored (Luke 4:18-21). That is the message of the Gospel. In fact, even the poor Philippians insisted on being able to participate in relieving the poverty of the poor believers in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:1-4). One doesn’t have to be rich to join in this great calling of the church. In Christ, we are all debtors to mercy and have a continual debt to love one another.
What does the Parable of the Good Samaritan teach us about racism?
Just as each traveler in the parable of the “Good Samaritan” (the Priest, the Levite and the Samaritan) had a responsibility toward the unjustly beaten victim on the other side of the road, so too each of us has a responsibility toward our brothers and sisters on the other side of the economic divide who are victims of unjust treatment. Far too many still lay there beaten.
Notice that I did not specify race in the previous sentence. Believers of every color who have been blessed economically have a responsibility toward those who are on the other side of the economic divide who are victims of unjust treatment. In the parable we call “The Good Samaritan,” the only person we know nothing about is the one on the side of the road in need. We don’t know his race or religion; nor do we know his name. We just know his need.
Loving our neighbor was never intended to come without a cost.
Is it enough to say that the victim needs to get himself up and go to a hospital? …that she needs to pick herself up by the bootstraps? …that opportunity awaits him if he was only motivated like us and took advantage of the opportunity? It may be that the only way he or she, as they lay on the side of the road, will get the necessary help is to get it themselves. However, it that is true it only indicts those who pass by.
It cost the Good Samaritan in the parable to be his brother’s keeper. Helping those in need will cost us. It is intended to cost us. Loving our neighbor was never intended to come without a cost.
What Does Redemption Do about Racism?
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28)
If the work of Christ can break down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile, then it can break down any other barrier. In order to do away with that barrier, God did away with the Law’s authority over our lives; an authority that came from God Himself. Why did He do this? For the purpose of uniting everything (and everyone) in heaven and earth under one head, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:10; 2:14-16). If He will go to the extent of doing away with the authority of the Law that He spent over a thousand years establishing, then there is no other barrier that stands a chance!
If the work of Christ can break down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile, then it can break down any other barrier.
Through the redemption, it is not just that we (all those of the human race of differing skin colors and ethnic backgrounds) have been made equal. In fact, we were already equal in value and worth before the redemption. Through the redemption, we have been made one! We may not be economically equal, but we are one. In fact, we are at least as one with those in Christ that the world defines as another race as we are with those of our own family. Being one means we have a responsibility toward one another that exceeds anything the world talks about as social justice.
We have to be willing to consider radically loving actions if we are ever going to hear or see what the Gospel calls us to do. I am not claiming that I know what it is calling us to do, but I am making an educated guess that only a small number in the church have yet done it.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,