When we say “racism,” what is that? It is defined as “belief that one race is superior to the other or the practice of treating a person or group of people differently on the basis of their race . . . The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others . . . feelings or actions of hatred and bigotry toward a person or persons because of their race” [www.yourdictionary.com].
We live in an era of history in which mankind has made so many positive advances. In our generation, humans have so much knowledge of technology and other matters, yet some people choose to be prejudiced against those of another race. There is no denying that racial tension is high in many places throughout the world. How sad.
Racism is a blight on mankind’s record. It is not limited to the hearts of one particular race or group of people. My wife and I have lived in four different countries on three continents, and we have observed racism in some form in each place where we have lived. It is not a pretty sight. It is unpleasant to see racism manifested in society; its ugliness and divisiveness is amplified even more when it exists within the Lord’s family.
When two people of different races apply for a job, if one of them is hired because he/she is better qualified or is more talented, that is not racism; but when two people do the same job and one is given less wages simply because he is of a certain race, that is racism.
If I am robbed and during the course of the police investigation I am asked if I noticed the race of the person who committed the crime, if I give an honest answer, that is not racism; but, if from that day forward I mistrust and detest every person of the robber’s race simply because I was mistreated by one person of that particular race, that is racism.
The Lord God is not prejudiced or a racist. As Peter told Cornelius, “. . . God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34,35). God’s unconditional love is for all people of all races, as He sent His Son for the world (John 3:16). Though many of the Jews refused to have dealings with Samaritans, Jesus did not share their sentiments. We see that in the manner in which He engaged a woman from Samaria (John 4:7-10).
Jesus wants His followers to preach the good news of salvation to every person in the world (Mark 16:15,16). That does not sound like racism on His part, does it? Spiritual blessings in the Christ are available to all people, regardless of their skin color, nationality, or the language(s) that they speak. No, the Godhead is not one bit racist.
As Christians, we strive to imitate Jesus (1 Peter 2:21). Since He was not prejudiced, then we should not be either. He wants us to love all people, even those whom we might consider to be adversaries (Matthew 5:43,44). He also wants us to treat others like we would want them to treat us (“the Golden Rule,” Matthew 7:12). How would it make you and me feel if we were convinced that we were being discriminated against simply because of our race or skin color? It would not feel good, would it? Surely that is the way others feel, too, when someone deals with them in a racist fashion.
We are reminded of what Jehovah told Samuel when the prophet went to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king of Israel: “. . . For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). May God help us to avoid being so insensitive and childish that we would prejudge people based on their genetic makeup (skin color, race, eye shape¼).
What can we do to help us avoid and overcome racism? We need to begin by being the right example ourselves, then branch out to educate others. Racism is a sensitive issue that can bring out strong emotions. So, if you intend to discuss this matter with others, get your heart and ears ready to hear some things that you may find unpleasant or disheartening.
When it comes to racism, we need to learn to think rationally. God’s appeal is for man to come and reason together (Isaiah 1:18). Let us remember that all humans are counted as “the offspring of God” (Acts 17:29), with each one made in His image (Genesis 1:26,27).
Sometimes it is up to the parents to step in and break the chain of prejudice. Racism often is passed from one generation to the next. If you grew up in a family where racism was present, then it is up to you to break the cycle. Teach your children the importance of treating other people with courtesy and dignity (1 Peter 3:8). Tell your kids that just because someone is different from them, that does not mean that the other person is wrong, bad, or inferior. From a young age, give your kids a chance to have frequent association with kids of other races or nationalities. It will help them to grow up free of racism or a false feeling of superiority.
If you are looking for a longer Bible passage that speaks about not showing partiality, you could consider James 2:1-9. For a follower of Jesus to hold the faith of our Lord with partiality is a contradiction of terms (2:1), such fails to practice the royal law of loving our neighbor as ourselves (2:8), and the bottom line is, it is sinful (2:9).
Let us all do our part to remove racism from the face of the earth. That effort begins with you and me.
— Roger D. Campbell