We Christians have developed a racism problem. Several people have written about this, so it may not seem new, yet I think that this current problem is indeed a new one. There are racists in the world. There are racists in the church. Racism is in no way, shape, or form, encouraged or allowed by any proper reading of scripture. Anyone who claims so is following a sect (sect, noun. “a group of people with somewhat different religious beliefs (typically regarded as heretical) from those of a larger group to which they belong.”) that does not conform to the teachings of the church. Racism, in short, is a sin, and a grievous one at that. Now that all that is out of the way, let me discuss the problem.
Many in the church have made racism the unforgivable sin. There is no allowance for redemption available for those who struggle with racism. It can not happen in any sort of real way. Across my social media feeds I have seen numerous Christians applauding the loss of jobs by the white nationalists who were marching. I have read sentiments about how they do not deserve a job and have no place in Christianity or in society in general. Here is the cold hard truth. Neither do any of us. “Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pelagians do vainly talk), but it is the corruption of the nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam, whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and of his own nature inclined to evil, and that continually.” (Article VII of the United Methodist Church) None of us deserves the mercy and grace that has been gifted to us from The Father above. None of us deserves the power of the cross and the work of Christ upon it. None of us. Not one. Tell me please how celebrating in the loss of a job for anyone is a demonstration of mercy or grace? Lord strip from us the evil temptations to celebrate and encourage the misfortune of our enemies, instead teaching us to love and pray for them. Amen.
Beyond all of that, let’s please talk about the practical. The individuals lost in racism most often believe themselves the victim of this or that hated group. They have been taught this, often in relative isolation, and know little more. Just like all of us, they know that which they have been taught. When we celebrate and cheer, and in some cases help, them losing their jobs, having their voices silenced, etc. we contribute to the delusion, and perpetuate the problem. Of course we would all celebrate the story of a racist that has come to know Christ, we’ll point to their story as an amazing example of what Christ can do, but we sure won’t do anything to help that happen. We all give lip service to the least and the lost, but when encountered by those who are lost in racism, instead of searching out the lost lamb, not only do we stay with the ninety nine, we engage with them celebrating and encouraging the misfortune of the one who has been lost. Not one of us would dare cast the first stone at the adulteress, but most of us would run to be the first to cast it at the racist. Shame on us. Lord spur us ever onward to seek those who are lost, no matter how they are lost. Use us to be an imperfect reflection of your perfect mercy and grace. Amen.
We all say that we should love our enemies and we should pray for those who persecute us, but we add the caveat ‘so long as they are not racist’. We all talk about how the grace of God is available to everyone, but again add ‘so long as they are not racist’. Many in the United Methodist Church, in calling for living wages and other social programs, quote sections from the social principals calling for living wages and proclaiming that all are of sacred worth, but then our voices and actions confirm that we don’t really mean any of it if they are racist. We can, and should, rightly call racism evil, but we should never call a racist evil unless we are affirming that we were once just as evil before our justification and ongoing sanctification, and when we sin now, we are indeed still just as evil in that moment of sin. We do not show that America is not full of hate by counter protests and marches, we show it by living a life that encourages and models love. We don’t stand against racism by offering resounding condemnation, but by offering true regeneration through Christ. Lord help us to live out the commission given by Christ and go to those dark places where racism exists, so that your lost sheep may be found. Empower and embolden us to teach love to those who have only been taught hate. Amen.
“And He spoke this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed within himself in this way: God, I thank You that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice on the Sabbath, I give tithes of all that I possess. And standing afar off, the tax-collector would not even lift up his eyes to Heaven, but struck on his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner! I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself shall be abased, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14).
The hard truth is that when it comes to racism, far to many of us are praying the prayer of the pharisee, and far to few are praying the prayer of the tax collector. Lord help us to pray as a tax collector, and further help us to teach those whom are lost to racism and all other sin, to do the same. Amen.