Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The gospel is God’s answer to racism

You may read the title of this post and think “What! Doesn’t she remember what Anglicans did to Indigenous Australians? Doesn’t she know what the Dutch Reformed Afrikaners did to the tribes of the Transvaal”! Each of us can think of many examples of Christians oppressing other groups of people on the basis of perceived differences between them. So, how can I still say that the gospel is the answer to racism?

Firstly, a true understanding of the gospel should lead to an accurate understanding of the depravity of one’s own heart. Jesus Christ had to come to die for you and for me because our sin is so bad that we could never make up for it. Jesus, the only perfect man, had to take our punishment for us. When you know yourself to be your own worst enemy, and you are deeply aware of the sin within you, blaming “the blacks” or “the refugees” or “the white oppressors” becomes a less promising pursuit.

Secondly, a respect for the gospel should lead to a respect for the whole Bible. In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we learn that all people on earth today are descended from two people. Some of the excellent resources from Creation Ministries International present the scientific evidence that supports the Bible’s claim that we are really all one blood. A true respect for humanity as made in God’s image, and a knowledge that we all came from the same ancestors, should leave no room for racism.

Thirdly and most importantly, the gospel itself is a gospel of reconciliation. In 2 Corinthians 5 Paul speaks of the effect of Christ’s death and resurrection upon our relationship with God. We can now be reconciled to God, because Christ has taken the punishment for the sins that separated us from Him. Once we have been reconciled to God through Christ, we are then ready to be reconciled with others. The most powerful example of this that the Bible gives is the reconciliation between Jewish and Gentile Christians. These groups who had hated one another deeply were now one in Christ.

For these reasons, the gospel is the hope God holds out for a still racist South Africa. The gospel is God’s power for a racist Australia. The gospel brings God’s reconciling power that can cause black and black, white and white, and even white and black to live in peace. One of the cultural benefits of the gospel ought to be respect for and harmony with people who are different from us. When this is not the case, we need not look to the gospel for the problem. Rather, we need look no further than our own hearts.

The image is from Clay pots.

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