Merriam-Webster defines racism this way: “a belief that race is a fundamental determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” Simply put, for the sake of this article, racism is believing and acting like your race is superior to others.
Race is an explosive subject simply because people, unlike God, judge by the external features of their fellow man. We tend to judge by a person’s outward appearance whereas God judges by the heart. Our inability to see past a person’s external appearance causes us to make distinctions based on such things as skin color, gender, body shape and other features. God, in His creative brilliance, has allowed for amazing variety in the outward features of all of His creatures. All of the unique races of man are part of God’s eternal purpose for the human race.
Variety is one of God’s specialties. The amazing variety in all created things is living evidence of His creative ability. We look upon the differences and make unrighteous judgments and God looks upon them as evidence of His artistic creativity. Look at the amazing variety in the species of dog or cats or roses or any other biological life forms and behold the amazing creativity of the Creator of all things.
Evolutionists, most of whom do not believe in the Creator, assume that the races developed over time through genetic changes, perhaps due to mutations that took place in human development over time. Margaret Sanger, atheist founder of Planned Parenthood, in a letter dated December 10, 1939 wrote, “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.” Sanger, not believing in a Creator, was a merciless racist.
If one does not believe in a Creator and His genetic creativity, the logical conclusion is that evolution has produced races that are superior to others. That kind of thinking is a breeding ground for the notion that one race is superior to another. Most people are not aware that the full title of Darwin’s Origin of the Species is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. Atheism leads to no other conclusion than that there are “favored races” and that is the definition of racism.
But God’s way simply allowed for the amazing variety of human ethnicities by including them in the original DNA of the first humans. In the genetic sense we were all “in Adam” because all of the genetic features for future racial variety were present in him from the beginning. When seen through the eyes of God, race is simply proof of God’s creativity which encourages us to appreciate all races instead of denigrating one that is not like us.
We do not hear of race through the first nine chapters of the Genesis. Up to the time Noah and the flood there was just one recognized race of man. In 10:5 we have the first mention of races: “From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations.” The Hebrew word for “nations” here is goy, a word which speaks of the grouping together of people according to physical distinctives. The Hebrew word corresponds to the New Testament word ethnos; from which we derive ethnic groups or races.
When humans are left to their own they make distinctions between one another. This is the natural tendency of fallen humanity — to think more highly of ourselves then others. Sin is acting morally against the will of God because we have inherited from the first humans a brokenness in heart that expresses itself in many different ways. Paul states this clearly writing the obvious, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We all sin because we fall short of what God intends for us — to receive and live in His glory.
The political left in America has devised a devious notion that racism is systemic to American culture because this country once, like all cultures of the world, participated in slavery. This notion is referred to as “critical race theory” which takes the atheistic position on race by arguing that white people are racist because “we live within, and benefit from, a system built and maintained by people who did.”
Of course this argument disagrees with the Bible which declares that we are all individually sinners because of our broken spiritual condition. There is no concept in scripture of a blanket guilt over an entire ethnicity based on some historical development of the past. Racism is a sin growing in the hearts of people who allow hatred for another race to be expressed out of their broken heart.
The only answer to the racist heart is to take the position of King David who prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10). The answer to racism, then, is a repentant heart that opens up to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. This transformation changes us from the inside out and heals that which is broken (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18). All of the political posturing in the world will not change the human heart.
Actually, “critical race theory” is racist according to the Merriam-Webster definition we started with. It declares all white people racist simply because of the color of their skin and the fact that white people years ago were racist. Racism is a two-edged sword that cuts both ways. You cannot declare someone is racist simply because their skin is white and yours is black. The blade that you are trying to cut with has sliced you to the core and revealed a racist heart.
When God was preparing the prophet Samuel to choose the next king of Israel He said to the prophet of the tall King Saul, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). God does not look at your height or your body type or your skin color but cuts with the sword of the Spirit to reveal the real you. Your heart reveals who you really are and you cannot hide from it (Heb. 4:12).
It is interesting that the only physical description of Jesus in the word seems to say that there was nothing extraordinary about His appearance. Isaiah wrote, “. . . he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2). God was not looking at His external appearance or even His race but on His pure heart free from the effects of sin.
So, if Jesus is God in the flesh we should see in His ministry the attitude of God toward the races. In the parable of the Good Samaritan Jesus favored the hated Samaritan over a priest and a Levite (Luke 10:29–37). He sat at a well with a Samaritan woman and discussed living water despite the fact that she was a woman, an adulteress and a despised Samaritan. It is believed by many that the Simon who carried the cross of Jesus was a Black man from northern Africa (Acts 12:1; 11:19–21; Rom 16:13). Neither the Father nor Jesus, the Son, have an issue with a person’s race.
Perhaps the best example of Jesus’s attitude about race is this statement from the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The word for “nations” as we have said, is ethnos, or racial groups. Jesus commissioned His disciples to go to all of the ethnic groups of the world with the message of the Gospel. The Gospel is race neutral because it reflects the racial creativity of our Creator in reaching out to all races and His desire to reach the hearts of fallen humanity.
God’s unfolding plan has always included all the races of humanity. Through Isaiah He told Israel, “I will make you a light for the other nations. You will show people all over the world the way to be saved” (Isa. 49:6). The Jews were not the end product of the God’s purpose but a beginning point from which He would reach the other ethnicities of the world. Israel was to be a shining light of God’s presence for the entire world and its nations to see.
In the story of Peter and the Italian Cornelius God convinced Peter that God shows no partiality but was reaching out to all races (Acts 10:1–34). Cornelius and his family became the first non-Jewish family to respond to the Gospel. Then Antioch became the first church to openly receive members of the non-Jewish races. The disciples who were scattered at the persecution in Acts 8 made their way to Antioch where many of various races were converted and a church began to form that welcomed members of all races (Acts 11:20f). Followers of Christ were first called Christians in Antioch because the truth had spread beyond one ethnic group.
It is a shame that many Christians still gather in churches according to race. Some argue that this is normal but I would agree with Paul that in Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). We are simply ignoring how God judges our hearts by gathering according to skin color. This is the exact opposite of what was happening at Antioch.
God help us to move beyond the short-sighted concept of “critical race theory” and see one another as God sees us. Like Martin Luther King Jr. let us dream of a time when people “. . . will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” This ideal will never be reached by political action but only by seeing one another through the loving eyes of our God.