Racism has echoed throughout history, dating back to when the bible itself was written. Paul addressed this when the church was divided between Jews and Gentiles, and the Jews tried to force non-Jewish (Gentile) believers to perform Jewish rituals. Rather than Paul telling Christians to ignore the discrimination against Gentiles, he proclaimed, “there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all, and richly blesses all who call on him” (Romans 10:12). People alone do not determine our value, God does. We are all created in his image. There is no separation or distinction between the value of one race or ethnicity over another. We’ve been taught to love thy neighbor as we love ourselves, but how we choose to love in the midst of chaos is a crucial piece of bringing peace and unity into our world.
Fifty years after the Civil Rights movement, trending conversations, such as #BlackLivesMatter and police brutality, are vigorous attempts to change the public’s perception of poor race relations. While sparking conversation appears to be the best way to help, most times it seems to only reveal frustration for those who don’t understand, or don’t care to, causing more pain for those affected. You’d think by now we would have learned how to adequately treat each other, but we haven’t. The biggest question to ask is how do we promote racial equality amongst those so heavily against it?
If there is one thing I have learned through my personal walk with God, and also being African American, it is that racist people do not hate me, they hate what my outward appearance represents. You cannot argue with hatred and force it to see your side; you must overcome it with love. The best news? God has the power to restore our relationships with people we’ve mistreated or have mistreated us; this is called reconciliation. The bible says, “all this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Relationships can be picked up from pieces and turned whole with a healthy understanding and appreciation of one another. If at its core the Gospel is a message of peace, it is also a message of love and reconciliation.
Our job as followers of Jesus Christ, is to spread this message as God intended. We must learn and practice loving those who have hate in their hearts for their neighbors, for they unknowingly stand in dire need of it.
To participate in conversations involving racial justice or to speak more on the role of seeing Jesus throughout the movement, visit OEP’s Racial Justice Facebook page by clicking this link.
By Chyna Dawson, Racial Justice Organizing Intern