Racism is a topic that always seems provocative and relevant. Obviously America has dealt with racism and in many ways has made positive social steps toward minimizing racist attitudes and behavior. With racial and ethnic diversity increasing in America, as well as the emerging “global village” due to the internet and media advances, exposure to other cultures and peoples has helped many find greater comfort and value for others that are different. Nevertheless, racism has obviously not been eliminated. Racism, however, is not unique to America and it’s approximately 225 years of existence either. It has existed in the world through most of its history. A quick tour through history makes this rather clear. Racism can be found in many places and many cultures both now and in the past.
How does the Bible feel about racism? Probably the way we would expect the Bible to feel about it. It opposes it. However, it opposes it for more reasons than we might think. Obviously the Bible promotes both respect and dignity for human life. All human life. This I think we all understand. The Bible also commands love for one’s neighbor. This is understood to include any of those one may come in contact with, not simply the person who lives adjacent to them. Clearly racism is an offense to these truths. These are obviously sufficient reasons to oppose racism and what such attitudes toward others can lead to.
Racism, however, is offensive to God for another reason. Another important reason. A reason that strikes at the heart of the gospel itself. The Bible is a story that reveals to us God’s plan to save humanity. And this plan is not limited to a select group of people (speaking of ethnic peoples or groups). In Acts 1 Jesus commands his disciples to be His witnesses (i.e. preach the gospel) in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth. The book of Acts then displays for us the powerful advance of the gospel just as Jesus had commanded. The apostles and the early Christians would do as they had been told by Jesus. The twelve apostles themselves would die across the known world. Some tradition holds that these apostles would advance as far as modern day England, India, and even further East. They literally went to the ends of the earth.
In addition, the book of Revelation gives us a glimpse of heaven. In this vision provided for us in Revelation 4, we see the throne room of heaven. And present before the throne of God are people from every tribe, nation, and tongue. The book of Revelation paints a picture for us in which salvation will be universal (not universalism), for people from EVERY nation, tribe and tongue will be present with God. God does not simply value all human life as that which is created in His image, His heart is that people from every culture and nation be present with Him in the new heaven and new earth. God’s redemptive plan is not complete until all peoples have been gathered into the fold.
Racism, therefore, is an attitude (and leads to behavior) that stands against the very heart of the gospel and God’s redemptive purpose in the world, God’s purpose to save all mankind, people from every tribe, nation, and tongue. God’s heart beats for all peoples, they all have a place in the new heaven and earth. And so we too must have the heart of God for all peoples. Racism is indeed an offense against the very heart of God and His redemptive purpose and plan. May we as Christians be certain such sinful attitudes are not in our hearts.