The first thing that we need to realize in talking about “racism” is that the Bible is clear that there really is only one race and that is the human race. According to Acts 17:26, And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. We all have the same ancestry in Noah and, through him, ultimately Adam. There is less than 0.2 genetic difference between any of us. All of us, regardless of the color of our skin, are part of a common humanity, and in racism, when someone is treated differently due to the shade of their skin, we forget just that. There are different ethnicities but only one race. Actually, it is wrong of us to even speak of being different colors. The truth of the matter is that we all are of the same color. We are just different shades of the color brown (not merely “black” or “white”). Some of us have darker skin tones and others of us lighter due to the amount of a thing called melanin in our skin. So, we really are not that different after all and all of us could be said to be “a person of color” then. This of course does not diminish any important and unique differences among us, but I don’t see those being necessarily related to the color of one’s skin. Every person is an individual designed and created by our all-wise God and of great worth and value since he or she bears His image and should be treated as such. The shade of one’s skin doesn’t make a difference in that.
The issue with racism is the sin of partiality that James addresses in chapter 2 verses 1-7 of his letter where we are called to show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory (v. 1). The Greek word used here literally means “to judge according to face” and it prohibits treating anyone differently due to any external feature of theirs, whether that would be how they dress, their social status, or the color of their skin. Whenever we have made a presumption about someone on the basis of the shade of their skin and treat them differently than others, we have fallen prey to this sin. And it must be stressed that none of us are immune to this. We should not think that we ourselves cannot be guilty of racism (and that is true regardless of how light or dark your skin may be). Keep in mind that it is believers that James writes this to. He addresses them as my brothers indicating their kinship in Christ. That they are all part of His family. Just as easy it can be to give someone preferable treatment due to their social status because they appear to be better off than another, we can do the same thing on account of the shade of their skin. We must keep our hearts in check in regard to this and seek to love our neighbor, no matter what he or she may look like.
And finally, we need to realize that the answer to the sin of racism is the same answer for each and every sin that plagues mankind; the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. No amount of protesting and rioting can bring us together. No new laws that would be legislated can do so. Joining a movement ultimately will not make any lasting difference. God alone has the power to break down any barriers that divide us and He has done so for those in the church through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only through Jesus Christ that reconciliation between two warring parties can ever happen. When someone is reconciled to God through receiving Christ’s salvific work on the cross in repentance and through faith in Him, they are also reconciled to those who, by grace, are their brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of who they are and what they look like. This is Paul’s point in Ephesians 2:11-22 when he talks about how, through the means of the cross reconciling believing Gentiles and Jews to God, they are brought together into one body where those who once were hostile to one another now are one in Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in the ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility (vv. 14-16).
So, if we want to see an end to the hostility between different ethnicities today, then we need to direct people back to the cross where we find ourselves all standing on level ground, all of us regardless of ethnicity or skin color being in the same boat of being a sinner in need of a Savior. And to Christ who through His death on the cross reconciles the believing repentant sinner to God and then in turn to those in Christ as part of His Church. It is only in Him do have any hope to bring about an end to the things that currently divide us. Are we telling people the gospel and calling them to be reconciled to God which will lead to their reconciliation with others? May God grant us the grace to do so even more!
Love in Christ,