It was Friday night, and a community of Jewish people gathered to pray and welcome the Sabbath. There had been Nazi calls to burn their synagogue, so, as a precaution, they had already removed the Holy Scriptures, moving their Torah Scrolls to a safe location. Still they came to pray. But when they arrived, they saw Nazis gathered across the street. Each of the Nazis was carrying a semi-automatic rifle. Swastika banners waved over the group of hateful young men as they shouted “Seig Heil.” With Nazis menacing those in the synagogue, the praying Jewish people had to sneak out of the back door, to avoid potential attacks by these Antisemites. And when and where did this happen? This was not in 1938 Nazi Germany, but last week in Charlottesville, VA, right here in the United States.
Nazis and White Supremacists marched through the streets of Charlottesville bearing torches last Friday night. Saturday, they gathered to give revolting, racist speeches, expressing hatred for Jewish people and supremacy over African Americans. One of these haters even drove his vehicle into a counter protesting crowd, injuring 19 people and murdering a young woman. The so-called “Unite the Right” rally was ostensibly designed to protest the removal of a confederate memorial. But its real purpose was to give voice to a repulsive racist, White Supremacist and Antisemitic ideology.
In the past week, I’ve heard many good and godly believers denounce the vileness of racism. But I’ve also seen a few too many believers, driven by political partisanship or “bothsideism” justify these racists. As people whose first devotion is to the Lord Jesus and whose commitment is to live and think biblically, we have to consider, what do the Scriptures have to say about racism? So here are the facts about the Bible and racism.
First, the Bible teaches that God loves all people. John 3:16 is our most foundational verse: “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” The old Sunday School song is true, “Jesus loves all children of the world.” And by the way, although God considers this racist ideology a grotesque evil, He still loves these racists and longs for them to come to repentance and to a true knowledge of forgiveness in the Lord Jesus.
Second, the Word of God declares that God made all humanity in His image. In Genesis1:27 it says, “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.” God has placed His fingerprints on every person, making each one so valuable to Him, that the Father paid an infinite price to redeem humanity, the death of His one and only Son. Although sin has marred the image of God in us, it has not destroyed it. Therefore, each person remains infinitely precious to God.
Third, when it comes to spiritual matters, which are most important, the Scriptures teach that God does not show favoritism among peoples. That’s why, when Peter came to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to Cornelius, he said, “Now I really understand that God doesn’t show favoritism” (Acts 10:34). And it’s what Paul meant, in Galatians 3:28, when he wrote that when it came to God’s justification of sinners, “there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female.” This doesn’t mean that in God’s eyes the world consists of one homogenous people anymore than it means that all people of faith now become androgynous. Rather, the Bible is saying that all must come to God the same way, through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus.
Fourth, the Scriptures teach that God celebrates ethnic diversity. In Revelation 5:9 it says the Lord Jesus is worthy because “you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Then two chapters later it depicts these same people groups as “a vast multitude from every nation tribe people and language” worshiping their worthy Savior (Rev 7:9-10). The point is that God redeems from all the nations and receives and enjoys worship from all these diverse peoples. In the end, worship in heaven will be a vast, glorious multi-cultural event.
Fifth, the Bible calls followers of Messiah Jesus to stand against the vileness of racism. For example in Isaiah 5:20, God warns, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” We dare not ever find justification for racism because of feelings of being disadvantaged or by claiming that those who oppose racism also do wrong things. We must be clear and forthright, condemning evil and never justifying it. Proverbs 24:11-12 says “Deliver those who are being taken away to death, And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, ‘See, we did not know this,’ Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?” Can you imagine if all the believers in Nazi Germany had understood this passage and taken their stand against racism and Antisemitism? What a difference it would have made in Germany then and what a difference it can make in the United States today.
A former student of mine reminded me this past week of something he heard my wife Eva say in class many times. She frequently said, “Racism is a three letter word: S-I-N.” Oh that those of us who name the name of Jesus would love Him and hate sin, even the sin of racism.