I feel pretty confident in saying no one is planning a vacation to Ferguson, Missouri this year! Unless you have friends or family who live in the St. Louis area, you will probably stay as far away from Ferguson, MO as possible. Why doesn’t anyone want to vacation in Ferguson, MO? The answer is pretty obvious… That city has problems!
Racism in our city
So does the Chattahoochee Valley! Although our problems aren’t on the front page of the New York Times newspaper, they’re still there. You can drive to certain parts of our community and see only one color of skin. In certain parts of the Chattahoochee Valley you can’t miss the poverty, unemployment and pain. We might not be as volatile as Ferguson, MO but we share race problems just the same.
The source of racism runs deep. The problem runs further than skin deep. It comes from the heart. At its essence, racists believe the color of their skin is superior to the color of your skin. Racism exists within every color of skin imaginable.
Race and the church
Can there be any room for racism among God’s people? Since God created all of us, God is responsible for the multitude of skin colors. It is offensive to God when Christians judge another person by the color of his skin! I can not to be convinced that God wants different colors of skin to worship Him separately. I find it an offense to God when a church is only one skin color!
You can’t mess with the problems of race in most churches. Walk in the door and you will easily see if a church is serious about breaking down the walls of race. It’s a very VISIBLE invisible problem. Often problems of the heart go unnoticed. No one can see what’s at the heart of a church when you walk through the doors, but they can tell what the church believes about diversity in a matter of seconds.
How Jesus deals with Race
Jesus dealt with racism head on. In fact, he challenged the cultural and racial issues of his day. One of the clearest passages in the Bible on this subject is found in John 4.
In this famous passage, Jesus met a Samaritan woman at the well in midday. It was scandalous for a man to be talking to a woman in the first place. This woman’s past made it even more scandalous that Jesus, a rabbi, would be talking to her. But perhaps the greatest scandal of this passage is that Jesus was a Jew and she was a Samaritan! Those two races had nothing to do with one another.
The woman was amazed that Jesus was speaking to her. In John 4:9, she asked how is it that a Jew is speaking with the Samaritan? Jesus was undeterred. You can imagine how horrified Jesus’ disciples were when they saw him talking to this woman. In John 4:27 his disciples are freaked out by Jesus’ breaking of this cultural norm. Of course, Jesus knew that this woman would go back and tell everybody in town about this man. God blessed this woman’s testimony and many people came to faith in Jesus (John 4:39) because of her words.
This may have been what the apostle Paul was thinking about in Romans 2:11. In this one verse he made it very clear that God favors no race! Of course it’s natural to feel more comfortable around people like you. But don’t mistake comfort for correct. Just because you feel more comfortable around people that look like you; it doesn’t mean they’re better than people that don’t look like you.
How Jesus would have his people deal with race
G. K. Chesterton, the famous 19th Century theologian once said, “In real life the people who are most bigoted are the people who have no convictions at all.” God has made it clear in his word that he created all people. God has commanded his people to love one another as we love ourselves. God shows no favoritism. Therefore, God’s people misrepresent him when we show favoritism. Christian racism is an offense against a holy God and not just against a brother of another color.