Acts 17:26 | Genesis 1:27 | Romans 3:23-24 | Luke 18:11,14 | Matthew 22:43-44
Racism is such an ugly thing. It is the belief that certain strengths and weaknesses of character or intelligence, and ultimately a person’s worth, are determined by their ethnic heritage.
It is looking at someone’s features and saying they are less of a person– or more of a person–because of their ancestry. It is deciding to give someone a chance or not based on who you perceive their grandparents to be. It is a filter of favor based on birth.
What does scripture say about this belief that people are better or worse because of their parentage?
“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth…”Acts 17:26a NKJV
It says that we all come from “one blood,” no matter our original nation. Are some people groups not as good as others? Nope. They are all made of the same stuff.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.Genesis 1:27 NLT
The scripture says that we are all created “in the image of God”. Therefore, if you insult somebody–based on their race or otherwise–you are insulting the image of God.
So racism is silly and, frankly, disgusting. But don’t get all high and mighty just because your views are so much purer than someone else’s.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.Romans 3:23-24 NLT
Remember that, while we all share the same heritage, we also share the same sinful nature. And if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God who paid the price for your sins, we share the same destiny. So love that person with racist views, because you are going to be spending eternity together!
And really, what good is it to be running around thinking you are so much better than anybody else?
The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!’ […] “I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”Luke 18:11,14 NLT
“Sure, I’ve got my faults…but at least racism isn’t one of them!” That’s pretty pharisaical, isn’t it? (Pharisaical means “like a Pharisee”…but we won’t think less of you for not knowing that.)
What might Jesus say If you asked him for the bottom line on all this?
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”Matthew 22:43-44 NLT
Love God, love your neighbor (whoever is nearby). That’s what God commands. Because He created all of us in his image and He loves us all.
Questions for Group Discussion
- Is it okay to look down on someone for holding racist views? Why, or why not?
- What does it mean to ‘love the sinner but hate the sin’?
- What should you do if you discover racism in yourself? Should you offer yourself the same grace you would offer someone else with racist beliefs?
- Can there be such a thing as ‘reverse discrimination’? Or is discrimination the same no matter who it excludes?
Challenge: Get to Know Someone with Racist Views
It is easy to hate racism. Sadly, it’s also easy to hate the person who holds those views.
So we challenge you to do the unthinkable: love that person. Now, before you get too bent out of shape at the suggestion, you need to understand the challenge.
- Think of someone you know whom you suspect of having racist views. The closer to your age, the better.
- Make it a point to get to know this person better. Be safe–do not spend time alone with the person or otherwise put yourself in a harmful situation.
- Do not try to change the person’s views. On the other hand, do not pretend to agree with views opposite your own. Your goal is to get to know the person, not change their views or your own.
As you proceed, ask yourself these questions:
- Does this person really have racist views? Or do they just have different views than yours, or than what is popular?
- Where specifically do their views differ from yours?
- If they do hold racist ideas, why or how did they come by them?
- What is there about this person that is admirable? What is respectable?
- If God knows that this person believes in this way, does He love them?