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Racism – Never Part of God’s Creation
May 18 - May 25
If you hate another person period, then you had better stop reading now. Hate, as is love, are both choices we make. One is of God, and the other is not. Then when we start making choices to hate people based on skin color, or ethnicity, or where someone was born, or whatever the generalization we conjure up, then we are not where God intends for us to be. As I write this, I am well aware that there is already so much out there pointing this very issue out. The hurtful thing is that so many are still not paying attention and giving into hate. I am exhausted by this.
Racism has been a part of my family history. It has been part of my childhood. It has been a part of my international experience. It was a part of my Ordination process. It is even a part of my community today. I get so tired of all the hate based on people and facts we do not know or have experience. We just assume we know what a person is like by the way they look, and we decide we do not like them or even hate them without even knowing who they are, or what they are about.
I worked in a church in southern Indiana when I was in seminary and was going through the first part of the process of ordination in another denomination called “License to Preach the Gospel.” It is the first step in a church’s recognition of an individual’s vocational call by God into the ministry. There is an interview process where they are supposed to ask you questions about your faith and basic theology. My interview during this process was about whether or not I would perform a marriage of a racially mixed couple if it went against the wishes of church leadership. There was no conversation about my love of Jesus and commitment to Him and nothing about how I was feeling about being Called into vocational ministry. I was disgusted and heart broken at the same time for the lack of love and the amount of hate that the body of believers had for their fellow man. Needless to say, my tenure at the church was short lived. I was actually shocked by the response of those in that interview.
In Brazil, I experienced racism based not on major differences in skin color alone, but on shades of brown. I could not figure out which specific shade of darker brown became the hated nemesis of those who were lighter brown.
During my pre-teen years, we bought a home in Charlotte and the previous owners were Jewish. They were moving because the neighbors had been burning crosses into the yard, and had been sending the anonymous nasty letters for being Jewish.
The point is, racism is horrible. Hatred of other people is also horrible. Hating the actions of someone else is much different from hating the person. Most of us truly have no real reason to hate another person. Sure, most of us have had bad people doing something bad to us at some point, but that is still no reason to hate the individual or a whole group of people based on some physical similarity. If that was true, there would be no one to love that could fit those qualifications! Forgiveness is a basic tenant of the Christian faith.
Jesus is incredibly clear in the Scriptures that our call is to love, not to judge and not to hate. Matthew 22:37-40 tells us that we are to love God and love our neighbors, and that everything God intends hangs on those demands of love. Jesus then defines who our neighbor is in Luke 10:25 -37 in the story of the Good Samaritan. We have no excuse at all to be racist. We have the command to go and love, EVERYONE! Until we can get that figured out, our faith will make no real difference in the world we live in.
Just in case you did not know where I am on the issue of race, you do now. I am not perfect, but I am learning more about myself and about others every day. I am becoming more aware of my own attitudes and thoughts when it comes to assumptions and presuppositions about others around me. I do believe it is what Christ expects, and that is for all of us to grow and change, and to follow Him.