The United States has had a history of massive racial injustice. Those with the power of majority, both in the population and in the government, have exercised that power to demean and abuse and kill. While I dont think this is the time to recount specific instances, let it suffice to say we have much to be ashamed of and much to repent of. Significant progress has been made in this country in the area of fair treatment and racial relations, but we have certainly not arrived. Given our national history, and the recent spike in racial tension, I felt it appropriate to address the topic and look to the Bible for guidance. How do we as Christians respond to the media we hear, the conversations we have, the racial tension we encounter?
The Devil desires to divide, to spark violence and hatred. If he can get a whole group of people to hate another group, he can start a cycle of revenge that can consume many lives and even damage an entire nation. Satan will use any opportunity to destroy. How do we overcome his spiritual assault? In short, we love. We love in ways that are supernatural, at depths that go way beyond typical human behavior. Today, we will observe Jesus and the apostles. Taking cues from them, we will look at practical ways to love our brother.
1 John 4:20-21
Jesus placed no limits on love
Luke 10:25-37 Good Samaritan
John 4:1-9 The Samaritan woman
Matthew 5:43-48 Love your enemies
Why should I love to this level?
John just told us if we dont love we may say we know God, but we dont. If we hold hatred in our heart, we have reason to question our salvation.
Jesus demonstrated and commanded it. That should be enough for any of us. We may struggle mightily to obey Him, but His command should be enough for us to try.
Love at this level is a potent form of spiritual warfare. Remember what is at stake. The devil wants to keep people from seeing Gods love. One of the most powerful ways people can see supernatural love is when we love way beyond what is expected.
This brief life on earth is not all there is. As believers, we can see this. But many, if not most people who dont know Jesus simply cant. We have an ability to endure for this season of our eternal life. We can keep our focus on the prize and trust God will bring justice in due time, even as we seek to draw people to Him so that they will be forgiven.
How do we tend our minds and thoughts to stay free of unloving, devaluing (even dehumanizing) stereotypes?
We have to tend our minds as if we were gardeners. My flesh, my old unregenerate, unsaved thought patterns are still in my brain, eve-present looking for a place to sprout. I must diligently weed them out.
Reject family training that does not measure up to Jesus
Some people have been trained from an early age to hold negative, even dehumanizing attitudes about some ethnic groups.
Your value as a person does not rest in your superiority over other ethnic groups. Our value comes from God. He has made us in His image and we are the object of His intense and persistent love. We dont need to compete.
When we are hurt or mistreated by someone, keep in mind Gods love and value of them as individuals and refuse to attach one persons behavior to a whole group.
Humanize groups that are different from you through dialogue with individuals. Talk to people. Build bridges. Especially with groups of people you may be afraid of or have little personal experience with.
As believers we are called to love. We are called to love everybody. Even people we dont like, even people who have done us harm. This kind of love is not human; it has its source in God. We cant do this without His enablement, listening to His Word and His Spirit as He guides us. But in Him we are powerful warriors of love, able to blunt the Devils strategy of divide and conquer.
1) Have you ever been the target of racial prejudice? Tell us about it.
2) How did your family of origin speak about other ethnicities? How has Jesus changed your perceptions?