Yesterday we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day and honored King’s work in fighting racism in the United States. Yet even though he made great strides for civil rights decades ago, we’re still seeing the bitter effects of prejudice and racism today.
Why is that?
Part of the reason is that racism is a consequence of sin and living in a fallen world. But another major reason is that many people are programmed from a young age to have racist beliefs.
The consequences of racism on a personal and social level are huge—certainly too big to ignore.
So what can we as Christians do about racism? Certainly, there is much to be done on a cultural level, but today we’re looking at what we can do personally.
First, let’s look at an underlying belief that has fueled racism throughout history.
Get Rid of the False Notion of “Race”
People throw the word “race” around nowadays without thinking about what it really means. In fact, the idea of race is rooted in evolutionary thought—believing that various races have evolved differently over the years.
This opens the door for prejudice. After all, if one race is more evolved than another, are they “better” than the less-evolved race? Are they smarter? More moral? More valuable? Surely you can see how this thinking is problematic.
Don’t think we’re jumping to conclusions by suggesting that people can easily use evolution to justify racism. We’ve seen this exact practice throughout history. Just research Hitler and his Nazi regime’s horrific practices if you need an example.
Sadly, some people throughout history have also twisted Scripture to justify their racist beliefs.
But the Bible is clear: There is only one race, the human race. If you read the book of Genesis, you see that all people come from Adam.
Science confirms this. The idea of race has never been rooted in genetics. And in fact, modern geneticsshows that all human DNA is 99.9% identical. Humans also all share the same set of genes, indicating the human race has one origin.
How does this impact how we respond to racism on a personal level?
It should compel us to treat every human being with respect and dignity. We are all of one blood and are equally valuable before our Creator. This is why God commands us to preach the gospel to all nations—because all are precious to Him!
Reprogram Your Heart With the Bible
Sometimes it’s hard to recognize deep-seated prejudices in our hearts. For many people, prejudiced beliefs are subtle enough that we can whitewash them. A person may look at the blatantly racist beliefs that were common in the U.S. less than 100 years ago and think, I’m not racist. I would never think like that! But if this person digs a little deeper, they may find they still hold to negative stereotypes that are damaging and steeped in prejudice.
Why is this so common? Because in the U.S. culture, we are racially programmed to think in terms of skin color. Our culture’s racist roots—and mankind’s sinful nature in general—program us to look at the exterior rather than the interior and to make broad judgments based on what we can see.
Our biases and prejudices may manifest in different ways, but they’re there. We often go through our day making all sorts of assumptions and judgment calls based on outward appearances. It’s hard to see through these beliefs because they feel like a natural part of the way we think.
But we can’t afford to ignore these prejudiced tendencies. The consequences are too severe.
This is why the Bible says: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think … so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:2-6).
We must examine our attitudes and worldview using Scripture and right beliefs about the history of the human race. The Word of God must be our absolute standard.
Take Action Against Racism
The first step we should take is to adjust our own incorrect beliefs about race. Then, once we understand the truth, we must walk it out.
We must fully apply the command God gave to the prophet Samuel: “Do not look at his outward appearance or the height of his stature … for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Jesus often reached across cultural lines to minister His love. His disciples were surprised when He spent so much time speaking with the Samaritan woman by the well (John 4). He also was unafraid to reach out, touch, and love those society deemed “unclean.”
In the same way, we need to get rid of any prejudices we’ve subconsciously adopted from culture or our own families regarding our fellow human beings. Form friendships with people who are different from you and listen with an open heart to their own life experiences. Life often looks very different from another person’s eyes.
Learn more about racism and how to fight it by watching One Race, One Blood here on Answers.tv!