What does the Bible say about racism
Scripture teaches that God created all human beings in His image. There is no exception to that and being made in God’s image makes each person valuable and precious. There is no hierarchy of human beings demonstrated throughout Scripture. Jesus came so that all may be saved.
The Bible makes it clear that racism is wrong and entirely contradictory to God’s command to love our neighbors, His unconditional love, and the teachings of Jesus.
What is racism?
Racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior. Racism results in hatred, fear, and inhumane treatment toward someone because of the nation they are from or the color of their skin.
Colorism is a form of racism when lighter tones and darker tones of particular races are not looked at in equality.
Racism in all forms goes against clear biblical principles of love and compassion.
Does the Bible mention race?
Acts 17:26 states: “26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.”
Scripture clarifies that there is one human race. God created humanity in His image. Yet we learn from the Bible that there are many different nations and ethnicities. Some of the most mentioned nations in the Bible are Arabic, Cretans, Egyptians, Ethiopians, Greeks, Israelites and Romans.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were God’s chosen people. Through Abraham’s lineage, God established a new nation. A nation that God protected and guided. The Jewish people were given laws and commands that, as God’s people, they were instructed to obey for their own good. They were invited to follow God not only in action, but also in heart by having faith in a God that loved them and took care of them as a father.
Though the Israelites were God’s chosen people, but God’s love and care was extended to every nation. For instance, God instructed Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach repentance so that the people there would be saved from destruction. There are also instances of converts in the Old Testament, those who were not Jewish who chose to follow God, such as Ruth or Zipporah.
Galatians 3:28 states: “28… for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
God has always had open arms to the whole world. In Paul’s writing to the church of Galatia, we are challenged to consider how Jesus unites all of us as brothers and sisters, regardless of ethnicity or nation. God breathes life into every human being and everyone is fearfully and wonderfully made.
In the life and death of Jesus, we learn of God’s love, compassion, and mercy shown to all people. God sent Jesus to die for the entire world… all races and ethnicities… and instructed the disciples to go into all nations and share the Gospel so that every nation and generation could have the opportunity for eternal life.
How did Jesus respond to
Jesus came to save the whole world, He confronted racism, and He commanded His disciples to preach to every nation. Jewish people believed that Samaritans were second class people who they weren’t supposed to talk to, touch, or even be in their presence. Jesus would have grown up knowing the hatred and division between Jews and Samaritans. Yet in two powerful accounts recorded in the Gospels, Jesus challenged the racism and prejudice that existed between Jews and Samaritans.
Jesus did the unimaginable when He approached the Samaritan woman at the well (see John 4). Jesus, a Jewish man, took time to speak with a Samaritan woman. He treated her honestly and showed her mercy, He told her that He was indeed the Messiah, and invited her into eternal life.
Jesus also shared a radical parable in which the hero of the story was a Samaritan (see Luke 10). Once again, Jesus spoke against the racism that existed between Jewish people and Samaritans through a powerful story. Jesus did not judge by appearances or rank one person higher than another.
Jesus spoke to, interacted with, and ate with everyone because He loved everyone the same despite what they looked like or where they were from.
How does God feel about racism?
Proverbs 6:16-19 tell us: “16 There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, 19 a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”
There is no passage that specifically answers the question of how God feels about racism, but Scripture gives us plenty of guidance about God’s love for all people, God’s hand in creation, and what the Lord does hate.
Pride, dishonesty and conflict are found at the root of racism; all are evil that God hates. Racism leads to a plethora of injustices, discrimination, and outpouring of evil toward fellow human beings. When we judge the fruit of racism, we see that this only produces evil, pain, and strife.
In the New Testament, Paul wrote a powerful insight to the church of Ephesus: “14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14).
Jesus tore down the divisions of hate and prejudice between groups that hated one another. Some of Jesus’ ministry on earth was aimed at opposing racism. Racism is a grave consequence of the fall, and part of the redemptive work that Jesus did was to begin deconstructing racist ideologies and challenging the evil of racism in the world.
How should we respond?
Look at Revelation 7:9: “9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
Revelation gives us a glimpse into how God will wrap up history and usher humankind into eternity. What a glorious picture painted in Revelation of people from every nation in heaven, worshiping God, standing together as brothers and sisters in Christ.
God loves every nation, every person, and it is made abundantly clear in Scripture that racism is not compatible with Christianity. As Jesus spoke against racism, so should we. As God loves all peoples, so should we.
Let’s start here and live now like we would live in Heaven!
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Don Grant of Hillview Wesleyan Church, Flemington.