Tragic events and a high degree of racial tension rocked our nation this past week. I certainly do not have all the answers to these problems, but here are six things on which I believe Christians should be in agreement:
First, we are all part of one race, the human race. The Bible clearly teaches that all human beings, no matter what their skin color, are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:28). In the past, some Christians claimed black people were destined to serve others because of the “curse of Ham (One of Noah’s three sons).” This bizarre interpretation is now universally rejected by reputable Bible scholars. Though some Neo-Darwinists seem to accept Darwin’s belief that certain racial groups are more “highly evolved” than others, Christianity is clear in its affirmation of the essential equality of all human beings.
Second, people of every ethnicity have a corrupt and fallen nature. We are all “sinners” (Romans 3:23). None of us loves God and the people around us as we should. Our attitudes and actions frequently hurt others. That is why conflicts are seldom caused by only one party. It is foolish to simply blame “whites” or “blacks” for racial tensions, since both contribute in some way. The first step in resolving almost any conflict is for me to admit how my actions and attitudes have contributed to the problem.
Third, we should hate injustice. We should hate injustice because God does. There is almost universal agreement that African-Americans have been the victims of great injustices in the past. The current debate is about if, or to what extent, they continue to suffer injustice today. Whenever we believe people are not being treated fairly, Christians should be troubled. If God gives us opportunity to combat a particular injustice, we should do our part “to right that wrong.”
Fourth, the role law enforcement officers play in our society should be respected. Policemen (and women) are human beings, capable of making both mistakes and evil choices. When a policeman violates the rights of another individual, he or she should be held accountable. However, we should always remember that these men and women play a crucial role in a justice system which has been ordained by God to enforce the law, punish evil, and reward good (Romans 13:4). Policemen, despite their flaws, do indeed form that “thin blue line” necessary to protect our society from anarchy and chaos.
Fifth, discussions about issues involving race should be characterized by civility and a commitment to discerning the truth. We should be careful about the words we use so that we do not needlessly offend others and inflame tensions. We should work at being good listeners, making an effort to understand (to some degree) the experiences of others. However, we must not allow “political correctness” to hinder our quest for truth. Each of us should evaluate our opinion and perceptions on the basis of fact, not self-interest.
Sixth, the gospel of Jesus Christ offers the best (and perhaps only) hope for true reconciliation. Political divides are deep in our society. It is unlikely minds will be changed unless hearts are changed. Yet there are many past and current examples of Christianity reconciling those in conflict. In Galatians 3:28, the Apostle Paul says, “In the church, there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I am confident he would not object to adding “black or white” to that list as well.
Yours, praying for the peace of Christ to reign,
Rev. Dan Erickson
Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church