Racism is ugly. It looks at people and judges them solely on the color of their skin or place of origin. Jesus dealt with that to some degree when someone asked of Him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth.” It is born of ignorance. Most people who are racists don’t really know people of other ethnic persuasions. If they do, their attitude is something like “All those people are bad, except for my friend. He’s not like them.” One of the pioneers in breaking through that barrier was Carter G. Woodson. He believed that if people of different ethnic groups had more social and professional contact those barriers would fall. If people understood the contributions of others they would more readily accept them. It was this belief that led to the formation of what is now Black History Month. Not only did this help white people understand the contributions of African-Americans in our country, it helped African-Americans understand their heritage and the accomplishments of people like them.
Racism taught that Black people were inferior and worthless. This was the belief of leaders throughout our country, even at the level of President at one time. It was through the understanding of the accomplishments of Black people that White people began the process of destroying their barriers. Woodson reminded us that if you can make a man believe he is inferior, he will have no problem accepting inferior status. This is not the gospel, although it was once believed as such. The gospel reminds us that Jesus died for all people. The author of Hebrews put it very simply: “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters.” (Hebrews 13:1)
One of the early insults of the Romans against Christians was that they loved each other before they even knew each other. Ethnic heritage didn’t matter in that love. Jew, Greek, Roman, and African Christians had one thing in common that was more important than anything else: their relationship with Jesus Christ. I have met with Christians in many different places in the United States and in a few other countries. In some cases those Christians were undergoing persecution. Yet we had one thing in common. We had a faith in Jesus Christ that overcame any and all barriers, including language. I have worshiped in different languages and even when I couldn’t understand the language we worshiped in, I could sense the spirit and the presence of the Lord. Racism is not a Christian virtue; loving each other as brothers and sisters reflects the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
It is such a simple statement, but with a powerful impact. Love one another as brothers and sisters. Our sins may be different. Our political beliefs may be different. Our skin colors may be different. Our languages may be different. Our economic statuses may be different. Whatever our differences may be, our commitment to Jesus Christ binds us together. No matter what the circumstances we are to love each other as brothers and sisters. Oh, my “natural” brother and sisters may be wrong sometimes and we may have disagreements – but we always love each other. As a Christian I see people in one of two categories: 1) others are brothers and sisters in Christ, or 2) others need to become brothers and sisters in Christ. I love the first group because we’re family. I seek to show the love of Christ to the second group so that they may enjoy the forgiveness and grace of God. Racism and hate don’t belong in the family of God. Our bond is the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
Oh Lord, sometimes I have such a hard time loving other people. I want to look at differences. I want to remind them when they are wrong. Remind me that we are all one in Christ Jesus when I am like that.