The world has come far in many respects, but in other areas, we have either remained the same or have worsened. In a time of even greater confusion and moral decline, we expect the church to set an example for all the world to see, but it seems that we are failing to be the light that we are called to be or the salt of the earth that the perishing world needs. We have allowed racism to continue in the church, perhaps under many disguises, but it is nevertheless racism.
You are first and foremost a Christian, a child of GOD. Your salvation was not dependent on your race, but on Jesus, on your acceptance of Him. It seems that we have forgotten this truth when we look at the demographics of some of our churches. I’m South African, living in a country with a history that many people throughout the world will probably know something of. My country went through decades of forced segregation, and despite Apartheid coming to an end with Nelson Mandela becoming the first black president in 1994, it seems that South Africa remains a country that is still segregated, perhaps not so much physically, but certainly mentally. This segregation extends into many churches where ‘white churches’ have predominately white people and ‘black churches’ will have predominately black people. I used to think that it was due to a language barrier- not everyone speaks English- and perhaps comfort. Comfort in the sense that you prefer to be around people who are like you in culture, language, likes, and race. But, wouldn’t the fact that we are all children of GOD be the ultimate deciding factor when choosing a church?
I’m sure that it’s the same elsewhere in the world- America in particular. If there is any country that is spoken of in the news with regards to racism, it is America. Rarely a week goes past without hearing about some racist remark that a person made, a racist action taken against someone or some march happening in protest against racism. It seems that America is building up racism, rather than working together to destroy it. It’s the same in my own country. Afrikaaner farmers are being butchered to death by angry black South Africans, white women are being put in jail for racist remarks, the Black Economic Empowerment plan has excluded white people and given many black people jobs that they are not qualified for. There are many other situations that I can speak about, but the main thing on my mind is the racism still lurking in our churches.
I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard so-called Christians make a racist remark. I have even heard the word ‘kaffir’ used, which is a derogatory word used for black people, the equivalent in America would be ‘nigger’. I have noticed, that in black churches, whenever a white person would visit, that person would get special preference- it’s as if the church feels blessed to have a white person grace their church with his/her presence. Whereas in the white church, if a black person came to sit in on one of the services, then the white people would speak kindly and act welcomely, but they would do so as if they were speaking to a child, a child that does not understand much. And if it turns out that the black person speaks perfect English, then the usual remark of ‘You speak English so well, who taught you?’ will be said. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that our schools are now integrated, which means that even black people can speak English as well as them, and still have their own mother tongue of isiZulu, isiXhosa, Sotho or any other Nguni language.
They each take the practices of the world and bring it into the church, not understanding that it is a sin. When I hear of these underhanded racist remarks in the church, it saddens me. These people have not allowed the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives to remove that spirit of racism. Not all churches are guilty of this, but there are too many that sneak in racism and call it honesty.
As I look back over the struggle for racial equality, not just in South Africa, but also elsewhere in the world, I see that the church has played a significant part. The revivalist and evangelist Charles Finney (pre-Civil War days in America), preached about the evils of slavery and even said that it was impossible to be right with Christ and still tolerate slavery. He went so far as to establish probably the first integrated college in America, in Oberlin, Ohio.
John Newton, the author of one of the most loved songs ‘Amazing Grace’, was an ex-slave trader who became a preacher. He saw the suffering that the inhumane practice of slavery inflicted on its victims and influenced William Wilberforce, another godly British Christian, to fight for the right of black people. As a powerful politician, he became the primary instrument in pressuring England to make slavery illegal.
It would be a shock if no one knew of the great evangelist, Billy Graham. He spoke of racial equality early on in his ministry and even refused to hold a crusade in the 1950s unless both black and white people were able to sit together as one. Our very own Desmond Tutu (archbishop now), did not shy away under the cloak of the church, but publicly spoke of the Apartheid practices, even when faced with being locked up and perhaps never returning home alive.
How is it that today, with a rich history as this, racism is left to continue in the church? Have we learned nothing from the past? It seems that the church needs healing when it is the church that should be healing the world with the Word of GOD.
GOD is strongly opposed to injustice and oppression. Leviticus 19:34 says: “The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself…”
Here GOD makes sure that his people, the Israelites, would not become proud and uncaring for other races, just because they had a special covenant relationship with Him. In Mark 12:31, the second great commandment that Jesus gave was to love your neighbor as yourself. He didn’t specify any race, He just said neighbor. For Jesus, to love your neighbor as you love yourself was to practice justice towards your fellow human beings. Where is that justice in the church when we continue to be prejudiced against someone just because of the color of his/her skin. You need to understand that the media has lied, manipulated and influenced the minds of people, fueling their hate for one another. It is wrong, Family, to be influenced by the world! I cannot stress this enough. Saved or not, you stand in judgment of this sin. What are you doing putting your nose where it doesn’t belong? What have you to do with the evil affairs of the world? Do you not understand that the main entity behind all of this hate is Satan? Unless you are Jewish, then we are all Gentiles, that means that there is no white and black, Indian or Chinese, Eskimo or Polynesian- there is no subtype of Gentile that is supposed to get special treatment while the other is oppressed.
Revelation 7:9 says: “After this, I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
Is there any mention of prejudice? Segregation? Hatred? Injustice? Oppression? No. The only prerequisite to being saved is believing and confessing Jesus as our Saviour, after that it is a matter of obeying GOD in all areas of your life. We have enough problems in the church without having to hold onto the race card. Let it go, examine yourselves, get right with GOD. If you can (you can do all things through Christ by the way), begin to see each person as someone that GOD loves, look past the color of their skin. Evil is evil, no matter who does it. Your job is to love them, and that’s it. We are commanded to do everything in love- remember this.