A RESPONSE TO RACISM
by Adam Alexander
A couple of weeks ago I was flipping through the channels and came across the old Cuba Gooding Jr. movie, Men of Honor. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. But just for a quick overview, the story is about Carl Brashear who was the first African-American U.S. Navy Diver. He fought against extreme racial prejudice to graduate from the program and become a Master Diver. While I watched this movie, my son Jonathan (born in Uganda) came up to me and gave me a hug. As I hugged him and watched this movie, tears began to roll down my face as I rejoiced in the fact that Carl Brashear paved the way for my son to pursue something like this in his future if that’s what he was to choose. It was a sweet moment of victory in my mind. I loved being able to look at my son and think that thanks to the fights of people like Carl Brashear, Jackie Robinson, Katherine Johnson, and countless others that he too can become whatever he wants to be in life.
But then the events in Charlottesville happened this week.
Here is the deal friends. This is a Gospel issue. There isn’t another way to put it. This isn’t about politics or culture or preference or anything else. The reason we should fight against racism and injustice is because it is a direct offense to the good news of Jesus Christ. It is so counter to everything that God is about and everything that Jesus came to accomplish. Since the very beginning God has been about all nations. Literally every tribe, tongue, people, and race. To claim racial superiority is directly opposed to the very heart of God.
The beauty of this is that it is pronounced all through God’s word. Take for example what it says in Genesis 12:2-3. I added the emphasis.
"And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
From the very beginning God declared that He was coming to redeem people from all the families of the earth! He didn’t make any distinctions based on race, ethnicity, culture, intellect, social class, finances. There isn’t a race that is more superior than others in the eyes of the redemptive plan of God!
What about Jesus? Check out what happens in John 4. Again, I added the emphasis.
"And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
Jesus was on the front lines of breaking down racial tension. Jews and Gentiles were in the center of that day’s racial tension. But that didn’t matter to Jesus. He didn’t let culture, history, politics, or anything else stand in the way of bridging the gap to fight for racial reconciliation. He saw the value in people and he loved them.
We can’t stop there. Let’s look at one of Paul’s letters, Ephesians. It says this in chapter 2 with my emphasis added.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit."
The chapter starts off saying that we are all dead in our trespasses and then continues to say these incredibly hopeful words. Racial superiority has no place in the Gospel and in the eyes of Christ. We are all, regardless of race, past, worth, status; dead in our trespasses. But God made us alive in Him!
One more reference. Let’s fast forward to the end of the story and what it will be like in heaven. Here is what it says in Revelation 7.
"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
At the culmination of history, we will all stand side by side worshipping a God who created us in His image. From the very beginning to the very end God sees who we are and celebrates and redeems His creation.
When I think about all of this, it makes me hurt even deeper for what is happening in our country today. God created us exactly as He wanted. Diverse, intricate, and beautiful. So, let’s fight for the very heart of God.
It is time for the church to engage in the battle for racial reconciliation. And it happens by being willing to ask questions and then actually listen to learn. It happens by speaking up and speaking out against these direct assaults on the heart of God and the glorious goodness of the Gospel. It happens by breaking cultural stereotypes and historical patterns. It happens by seeking the heart of God and living into the Gospel in your own life. It happens by banging on the doors of heaven for revival in our hearts, in our churches, in our neighborhoods, in our city, and in our country.
Let me say it clearly to close. As believers, we are unequivocally against white supremacy, the alt-right, and any manifestation of racism. And as believers we are unequivocally for Christ’s supremacy, the good news of the Gospel, and racial reconciliation.
Lord, please break our heart for what breaks yours and bring healing to our land.