Racism IS Addressed in the American Church

The recent not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman has opened up the discussion once again of racism in America. And once again, the Church has been thrown into the ring as being the institution that is enabling racist behavior. Self-proclaimed Christians are saying that “white churches aren’t discussing racism in their churches” and are failing to address the “elephant in the room that is racism.” These statements are from people who go to church so I can only imagine what those who don’t go to church are thinking about the Church.
 
My question is where do these people go to church?
 
First, if Jesus…the Jesus who was born of a virgin, crucified, dead, buried and raised from the dead…the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6) isn’t being preached from your pulpit, I would consider changing churches.
 
Second, if the greatest commandment “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37) isn’t being taught at your church, I would consider changing churches.
 
And lastly, if the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39) isn’t being preached by your church, I would consider changing churches.
 
This last teaching is the one I’d like to discuss in response to claims that the Church in America is failing to address, and by some accounts enabling, racism.
1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” In the original Greek, the word αγαπη (agape) is used throughout. Agape-type love, according to 1 Corinthians 13, is love that is kind, does not display unseemly behavior, hates evil, is associated with honesty, and protects, as well as a few other attributes.
If the preacher is standing up front preaching a sermon on Matthew 22:39 or 1 Corinthians 13:13, he is definitely preaching against racism. If your church is reminding you over and over that as Christians we are called to serve in love, it is definitely preaching against racism. You can’t have agape-type love and be a racist. If one claims to be a Christian yet has racism in their heart, I’d question their Christian walk …plain and simple.
 
Every time a white person kills a black person, it is not racism. Every time a black person kills a white person, it is not racism. Every time a Hispanic kills an Asian, it is not racism. And so on. It just isn’t. Yes, there are extremists out there who do things based on race, just as there are people out there flipping cars and destroying property in the name of justice. We live in a fallen world.
 
There are generational scars that run deep in this country due to slavery that occurred hundreds of years ago. I pray for these people because their hearts are hurting and are blocked by unforgiveness. And let us not forget about the millions of people who are slaves today…because there are more slaves today than ever before in history. Slavery is not a past issue…it is just that it is no longer just a race issue. It is a human issue.
 
Churches, those who are teaching Jesus, God and love, are addressing racism and every other “ism” that occurs today. As Christians, color shouldn’t be in our vocabulary when it comes to anyone. In fact, Christians should be colorblind. We should see others as brothers and sisters in Christ or as lost people…that’s it.
 
The Church should not have to openly preach against racism because it preaches love…a love that includes everyone - all races and all people. Jesus came for us all.
Those who preach hate and racism aren’t gospel-centered Christians. This applies to all churches no matter what color their congregations are. The Apostle Peter warned the people in 2 Peter 2:1, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction” (emphasis mine). This same warning is still in effect today.
 
I saw a comment this week by a young man that said, “if a black person moved next door to a white person, the white person would move.” When asked whether he would move if a white person moved next to him, he said “of course not, I would welcome them with love.” I find this young man’s comment disheartening and sad. How do we break through this barrier?
 
My prayer is that all churches would emphasize love because we should “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). And no matter what color we are, what our past looks like, or where we came from, we are all sinners in need of a Savior. And that Savior loves us with agape love.

Let’s model Him.

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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