Charlottesville, Racism, and a genuine Christian response
Nazis are evil. Racism is evil. The Alt-right is not “right” in any sense of the word—politically or morally speaking. The group that gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia with torches in hand on the weekend of August 12, 2017, was a group of men in direct rebellion against their creator. Later on, they (one evil socialist/fascist group of racists) were matched with another evil socialist/fascist group of tribalists, Antifa. Antifa deserves to be condemned in kind. Both groups have worldviews that completely contradict God’s law. As much as both groups deserve to be condemned, and plenty of people have already denounced them, I want to go one step further and answer a specific, genuine, Christian response to racism in america–leaving the Antifa side of evil for another time.
Racism vs. Christianity
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
—Genesis 1:27 (ESV)
All mankind was created in the image of God. Period. All colors on the spectrum come from that one glorious act.
We live in a world that enjoys dividing itself. God’s word stands against that. The biblical perspective is that people are not divided based on black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, gentile, or middle eastern. We are all made in God’s image. We all have the same dignity as human beings. There is one human race and every member of it stands in need of salvation by the same grace from the same Savior. This is the primary level of unity that all human beings share. On top of that, those that are saved by grace through faith in Jesus have a deeper level of unity because of their Savior. This comes to us by the Gospel, and it gives the Christian a truly powerful response to the problem of racism.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
— Galatians 3:28 (ESV)
God has chosen to save people of every tribe, tongue, and people-group. He has chosen to save people of every income level and socioeconomic status. He has chosen to save people of all skin colors. All of His people will be saved in the same way–through grace by faith in Jesus Christ. There is no skin color or ethnic group that has more dignity or more of a claim to Jesus.
In contrast to our world, Christians ought to view all people as people with equal worth and dignity. The church stands as one race, class, and body. This standing has nothing to do with earthly status or the color of our skin. The unity and diversity of the human race, particularly inside the Church, is to be seen as beautiful, not divisive.
There is no room in the Church for any kind of attitude that divides based on the false criteria of race or ethnicity. When we look out at the world, we look at all human beings as being in the image of God. When we look inside the walls of the church, we look through the lens of being one in Christ Jesus.
While the world is dividing itself and others, the Church must stand as one with a deep love for one another as image bearers of God, not as black or white, because we all have the same creator, the same sin problem; and, we all need the same savior. Right now, this unity is affected by sin and we don’t experience it perfectly. We must work towards it now (largely as part of our mission to make disciples of all nations), and anticipate the joy of this perfect unity in glory.
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood, you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.
— Revelation 5:9-10 (ESV)
What should we do?
First, we must respond by refusing counterfeit solutions. We need to refuse the media’s response of polarizing one another. The media covers these fringe, small groups (Nazis, Alt-Right, Antifa) with such focus and regularity that we are tempted to think that they are much bigger than they truly are. Do not give into the lie that all of your neighbors are closet fascists, nazis, or racists. Don’t assume that your neighbor is hateful or incapable of having a real discussion on these issues.
Refuse brash responses. In our culture, we falsely assume that a quick response is automatically a good response. Speak about these issues humbly and slowly. Don’t be afraid to speak about them with your neighbors.
We also have to refuse the urge to change the whole world. Instead, we need to influence our family, friends, and neighborhood. Move into your neighborhood and invest in a meaningful way. Talk about these issues with white friends, black friends, Asian friends, liberal friends, conservative friends, etc. Show them the love of Christ, no matter their skin color. Try to understand their perspective. If we change our families and our neighborhoods, we might just see our town, city, state, and country change one neighborhood at a time.
Above all, remember that Christianity has the only true response to these issues. Without the Gospel, we resort to tribalism and pride. All other worldviews and religions have no real ammo to fight this collectivism and hate. We need to share the true solution loudly. We need to apply the Gospel to issues of racism in our communities where justice isn’t being served. More than anything, we need to witness this good news with the way that we reach out to people different from us and love them passionately.
Work for social reform where needed, but remember that laws will not change sinful hearts. Even with perfect laws on the books, we will still have evil in the human heart. The Church’s persistent, counter-cultural, love-driven witness to the world around us about the good news of Jesus is the true solution for the plight of sin. The worldview of the Gospel must be behind everything that we do.
I don’t think that the real solution is a facebook status or tweet, a charismatic leader, or a law from the government. The real solution starts with us knocking on our neighbor’s door and showing them the love of Christ.
It’s a frightening indictment, That even if all these world problems are solved
It still wouldn’t resolve what you are actually looking for
And it’s not like these problems, they don’t need to be addressed
But fixing systemic issues, it ain’t the source of your rest
Or satisfaction, and I know it’s your life’s work
But the work of a man’s hands, it has never quenched his thirst
You say I’m King of kings but son, I don’t get it how
You could trust me for eternity but can’t trust me for now
Hoping in a broken system to fix what’s broken in us
It’s not working, is it?
— Propaganda, from his song “It ain’t working (The Truth)”
Unity: the victory of Jesus Christ over racism, ethnocentrism, and cultural superiority by David Platt
Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian by John Piper
Racial Reconciliation by Matt Chandler
Music: Crooked by Propaganda
Music: The Narrative by Sho Baraka
(Albums also available for free at Humblebeast.com)