Our voice as Christians must be united and clear- God created, and is glorified through, ethnic diversity. Racism, therefore, is an evil insult against the beauty of God’s multi-ethnic creation. True Christians must stand united against racism.
Consider five brief points of Scripture.
1. God created humanity in His image. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).
All humans are equally humans created in the image of God. We ought to celebrate the beauty of God’s image in each group of humans. If one group of humans condemns another group of humans, they are condemning the image of God in the other group.
2. God created all nations from Adam. “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (Acts 17:26).
The Greek term for “nation” here is “ethnos” from which we get our word, “ethnic.” God, therefore, is the creator of nations or “ethnicities.” Humans ought to celebrate the beauty of God’s creation. Failure to celebrate the beauty of various ethnicities is racism. We should be clear, “colorblindness” (as it is sometimes called) is not our goal, for that would be a failure to see the beauty of God’s creation. Our goal must be see and celebrate the beauty of ethnicity.
3. God has redeemed people from all nations in Christ. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is nether Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26-28).
God loves all people and wants them to be saved (1 Tim. 2:3; 2 Pet. 3:9). As Jesus taught, “For God so loved the world [world = the entire inhabited earth] that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). While most world religions serve one ethnic group, a beauty of Christianity is its multi-ethnicity. The beauty and power of the Gospel is its power to redeem people from every nation or ethnicity (Rom. 1:16).
4. The Gospel is to be proclaimed to people in all nations. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20; cf. 24:14).
As in point 2, the NT Greek term for “nations” here means “ethnicities.” We are to proclaim the Gospel of grace, peace, love, and forgiveness to the nations! As the old hymn puts it, “We’ve a Story to Tell the Nations!” The story, of course, is the Gospel story! It’s unthinkable, therefore, for any true Believer to bring a story or message of hate to the nations or to other ethnicities.
5. All nations will share heaven together. “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried in loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb’” (Rev. 7:9-10).
How did John know the people in heaven were from different ethnic backgrounds? He looked. John saw people from every nation or ethnicity. This means our ethnic features will be part of our glorified bodies in heaven! Why is this important? Because our God is not merely the “god” of the French or South Africans. No, our God is the God of all nations! To be the king of one people is glorious, however, to be the king of all kings, the king of all peoples is far more glorious. The fact that John sees people from different ethnicities magnifies the greatness of our God! Therefore, more than an attack on another ethnicity, “Christian racism” is an attack against the glory and greatness of God! It is a heresy of the worst kind, proclaiming God is a provincial deity over only part of humanity.
Before I close, I need to add one more point worth taking seriously.
Racism (hating others) is following Satan. Jesus challenged religious bigots, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning . . . When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
The Bible teaches that Satan seeks to create divisions and a lack of forgiveness among Christians (2 Cor. 2:10-11), he uses anger to try to control us (Eph. 4:26-27), false teaching to deceive us (2 Cor. 11:13-15), and Christians must stand united against Satan’s schemes to cause hate and division (Eph. 6:11). The Apostle John draws a hard line in the sand, “This is how we know who are the children of God and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10; cf. 2:9-11; 3:15; 4:20-21). Haters belong to Satan; those who do what is right, and who love others, belong to God.
Christians should celebrate the glory of God in ethnic diversity in our culture and in our churches. Christians should stand united against racism regardless of what groups on either side of the American political spectrum may do or fail to do. Anyone claiming to be a Christian who affirms racism has completely failed to understand the Biblical Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Further, while the first amendment to the US Constitution protects free speech, and therefore, some argue that even though they are against hate speech, they insist it is protected by US law. Regardless, let us be clear, any “free speech” involving hate is never protected under God’s law. It is evil. As believers in Jesus we are obligated to obey God’s Word above the laws of any nation. There is simply no justification for racism and hate speech for followers of Jesus.
Fellow believers, it doesn’t matter what those in the world may say or do (we expect a fallen world to hate and to be at war, therefore we share the Gospel!), what matters is what we say and do. We must love. Racism is not love, it is an ugly sin that must be unequivocally condemned. Even the slightest defense of racism is ugly. Let us set an example for our world with the Gospel message of love and unity for all in Christ.
About the Author
Bruce has been with Eagan Hills since 1992. His life verse is James 1:22, and his hope for EHC is: For God’s Spirit to use God’s Word to transform God’s people. Education: B. A. Moody Bible Institute, M.A. Bethel Theological Seminary, ThM and PhD (candidate) The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.