In an earlier blog, “Loving without Limits”, I tried to articulate how the quality of our love should always mirror the quality of God’s love for us – namely that His love is utterly unconditional and inclusive. God loves everyone without exception, and we are called to do the same. No exceptions.
In that earlier blog I used the image of the corral – to express how we often build a barrier around ourselves and especially around our tribe or kin. What this means is that we tend to love and associate with our own kind and – while we may not hate others – we effectively don’t care or bother with those outside our ‘circle’. This corral mentality is akin to racism and is also a fundamental denial of the love that we are all called to show – if we are serious about following Christ.
It follows therefore that racism is totally against the Gospel of Jesus, and if we claim to follow Christ and have racist inclinations, whether overt or subtle, we are being at best hypocritical but in fact living in direct opposition to His teaching. And while we may fool others, and even ourselves, we will never ever fool God. Racism and Christianity are diametrically opposed.
But I want to go even further than this and say that racism in all its forms is actually an obscenity in the eyes of God. And while all sins can be forgiven and God’s love is certainly greater than human sin, the sin of racism is an awful cancer in the human soul, and its effects are widespread and often devastating. Read “Solitary” by Albert Woodfox if you want a horrendous account of unbridled racism – in our day and age.
Imagine fifty people come into a room to meet you for the first time. You don’t know them but immediately – on the basis of their skin colour – you tell a number to go: you don’t want to meet them or have anything to do with them. How utterly illogical and stupid is that? You have made a value judgment on the basis of something that none of us can change. And why would we ever want to change our skin colour? Victims of racism may well have an answer to that question.
It is hard to love someone who has done you harm, and wanting to avoid them is perhaps only natural. But to want to avoid someone because of their skin colour? Someone you may never have met before and have no idea of whether they are good or bad? This is why I say that racism is an obscenity in the eyes of God. It is the worst form of corralling love. It strikes at the very heart of the core nature of God’s love.
Jesus actually emphasised this in many of His parables, where He was at pains to state that it is the other, the foreigner, the stranger, the ‘least’ who should be the focus of our love, and is often the very person who may show us love. He goes further and directly states:
“If you only love those who love you… “ (Matthew 5: 46)
meaning that love of our own kin or tribe to the exclusion of others is not what God asks of us. And we are always to give in the measure which we have received from God – that is, without limit.
Most of us, as good people, might say that we don’t hate others and that we don’t hate those who are different to us, whether in the colour of skin or perhaps ideology, sexual identity, or whatever. But racism can be very subtle, and I think there are profound undercurrents of racism particularly in ‘western’ societies that we imbibe from our earliest breaths. This may manifest as perhaps choosing to talk to someone of the same colour at a meeting, but this inclination can also involve the same sex, the same dress code, the same age group, even when we recognise the same accent – to the exclusion of others. At such events I feel that Jesus is prompting me to go and speak to the obvious stranger, the apparent loner, etc. We should, all of us, take the time to look into our hearts and try to discern if we have any subtle prejudices that God may be wanting to heal.
As Christians we are called to hold no barriers – even with those who have done us wrong! While that last point is hard, we should certainly not hold barriers simply on those unchangeable qualities of skin colour, sex, and age.
To be a racist is terrible. To be a racist and Christian is beyond obscene.
God made us who we are, and loves us as we are. All of us!