Friday, September 26, 2014

The Root Cause of Racism

Due to the events in Ferguson, Missouri, there has been much discussion in the blogosphere over the last several weeks over the subject of racism.  Some good, some not so good. Racism has been a particularly thorny issue since Genesis 11:6-9, when the Lord confused the languages and scattered man over the face of the whole earth.  From then on you see incidences of racism throughout the Bible.  

But when you look at the world picture from an historical perspective, it is more than racism, the color of ones skin, it actually goes much deeper to ethnicity or tribalism.  In recent history look at the ethnic cleansing that took place in Bosnia with the Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians, which also included some Albanians.  Look also at the issues with the Tutsis and the Hutus in Rwanda and the genocide there. In studying Native American history you can see the same animus among the different tribes toward one another.  So as we consider the issue of racism we must think of  it as a facet of ethnicity.  

The root cause of racism is the failure to love our neighbor as ourselves.  Interestingly,  Leviticus 19:18 gives us the first mention of loving your neighbor as yourself, and it is in the context of not taking vengeance or not bearing any grudge. Racism begins with a lack of love and therefore bears a grudge, carries a black mark in the heart, toward anyone who is a different ethnicity than you simply because they are of a different ethnicity; or, in many cases, are of a specific ethnicity. Racism is lack of love which does not believe all things, hope all things, bear all things, endure all things, and therefore assumes that someone did something to someone else simply because of ethnicity; it therefore mistrusts because someone is of a different ethnicity; it therefore leaps to conclusions; it therefore refuses to give the benefit of the doubt; it therefore refuses to hear the truth; it therefore refuses to treat others as it would be treated. 

Therefore, racism is sin. It is the sin of a heart that has been hardened toward those of other ethnicities, and is a sin that continues to harden the heart. The knife of racism cuts in all directions, and there is not one ethnic group that is immune to this sin, for sin is in the heart of all men. 

Where can we as Christians begin to deal with this issue of racism? How can we bring healing to this thorny and emotionally charged topic?  We must start by loving one another as ourselves, and for those of a different ethnicity who happen to be our brothers and sisters in Christ, we must love them as Christ has loved us.  We cannot hope or expect those who do not have the Spirit of Christ within to reciprocate this love, for they cannot; but the church can and should provide this witness and example.  For all things societal, the root issue is always a moral issue, and the moral issues always have a spiritual foundation.  

On this issue, the church, comprised of individual Christians, should be salt and light to the broader culture.  We should be the salt that stops the corruption of racism in its tracks, and the light of love for those of other ethnicities that shines in the midst of the darkness of racism.  Fellow brothers and sisters, let us love like this each day. 

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