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Racism:
Not Just Another...


Issue
Part 2

 

III. RACIAL PREJUDICE

 

I grew up in an Arkansas town called Pine Bluff. The town had a reputation for three things, none of which were very flattering. First, because of the International Paper Co. plant, there were times when the town smelled really badly. Second, drugs were more prevalent there than in any other place in the south, hence the term "Little Chicago." Third, the racial makeup of the town was hugely diverse; some thought that was great, others did not.

 

I had the misfortune of having a very prejudiced grandfather. When my dad and I weren't getting along during my early teens, I went off to live with my grandma and grandpa. My grandpa spoke freely about his feelings for anyone of another race.

 

As I grew older and learned more about prejudice, I learned the importance of heeding Jesus' teachings about the need for a believer to be colorblind. My heart was free to make the choice, but it would be a choice that would set the tone for the rest of my life. By God's grace I made the right choice, the only choice that matched what I said I believed.

 

Skin color doesn't determine character…nor does it determine the absence of character. My grandfather had his prejudices while I felt grateful to be serving a God who helped me see beyond all of that. It was not a decision I reached because I am anything. It was a decision I reached because God is everything. He can help set you free today, too. How? Consider four facts about racism.

 

A) Racism Is Not New. It was a problem in biblical times. In John 1:44-46, the Bible says,

"Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip."

 

The disciples faced racial prejudice nearly 2,000 years ago.

In John 4:9, Jesus was traveling through Samaria where He encountered the woman at the well. The Bible says,

The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans).


Jesus encountered it all around Him, even among those to whom He was trying to minister.

 

The problem of racism is not new. It's been around for as long as races have differed. I encountered it in an unusual way while serving in one pastorate.

 

My wife and I were in talks with the International Mission Board. We felt called to missions but had not yet been accepted. One day, out of the blue, the phone rang. A church in Georgia had somehow gotten hold of one of my resumes and wanted to talk to me about becoming their pastor. They noticed on my resume that we had adopted one child and were in the process of adopting another. When they found out that the second child was African-American, the conversation ended unusually abruptly. A few days later, I received a letter from that church telling me they were no longer interested in me.

 

Even churches and God's people are sometimes racists. How tragic! We tell ourselves that we represent God, and love, and forgiveness. It's too bad that some of us can't tell it to others.

 

B) Racism Uses Crude Descriptions Of People. A couple of years ago, I took three of our kids to play at a McDonald's playground while Brooklyn had her voice lesson. We were only there for a few minutes when a school bus pulled up from a multi-ethnic school district in south Dallas. A little while after these children started playing on the playgroud, they noticed me at the bottom of the slide playing with Elijah & Jonah (two of our biological children). Several of the children were standing in a group and one said loudly, "I hate white people." I ignored their comment but my children were hurt and stunned at their brazenness. Judging by the school children'sr expressions, they soon realized that not all "white people" were what they thought they were when my African son, Josiah, came running toward me hollering, "Daddy, daddy."

 

Racist remarks are offensive and demeaning. Such ugly slurs should never cross the lips of men and women who are bought by the blood of Christ. The Bible says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29). Racist remarks don't impart grace.

 

C) Racism Is A Small-Minded-Person's Way Of Elevating Himself or Herself. Such affronts are the attempts of some people to elevate themselves by putting down and stepping on others. Paul wrote, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:3-4).

 

If you've ever looked at someone else and felt you were better than they, especially if your evaluation hinged on race, you are not yet where God is calling you to be. "Then I guess I'll never be there," some of you might respond. And I say, "No, no you'll never get there as long as you're relying on yourself. We'll never attain to God's goals without submitting to God's grace."

 

D) Racism Is Arrogant And Foolhardy. One race cannot be better than another because all of us have sprung from the same ancestors. We are all of one blood, "And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their habitation" (Acts 17:26).

 

It is arrogance or pride that leads one to consider himself or herself to be better than someone else because of nothing more than a genetic combination of chromosomes. Paul wrote, "For if anyone thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself" (Galatians 6:3).

God helped us to see that He takes racism seriously and helped us to know that racism is an important sin to overcome when He performed a notable miracle to dispel the Jewish prejudice against the Gentiles. Peter's first hint came with his vision of the animals descending from heaven upon a great sheet. The conclusion of all of those events in Acts 10 was unmistakable. "God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean… In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (Acts 10:28,34-35). Now that's the mind of Christ.

 

In the next article, we'll consider seven steps to overcoming racism. Until then, think on these things.

 

 

Copyright © 2010-2012. Faith Matters by Dr. Ken Lovelace. All rights reserved.

 

 

 



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