Racism and hatred have been a plague infecting the peaceful existence of mankind from the time of Noah to our present day, in all countries on earth, with all people. Racism is just plain evil.
Whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or other, we must reform the way we think and begin to see ourselves as a creation of God; otherwise none have the right to call themselves children of God.
Racism can be defined as prejudice, discrimination, bigotry, hatred, . . . of one person or group of people against the other: Caucasian vs. the African man; northern Yankees vs. Southern Confederates still fighting the Civil War; liberals vs. conservatives; Arabs vs. Jews; Turks vs. Armenians; you get the idea.
While the word “racism” itself is not to be found in scripture, there are many passages that speak to the issue of how we as Christians are to overcome this evil. Here are a few examples from the New Testament.
The Letter from St. Paul to the Colossians (3:1-17) should be read in its entirety but vs. 9 -11 summarizes its intent:
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal here is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
In Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians (2.11-16), he writes:
So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision” – a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands – remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now, in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh, he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it.
And finally Paul’s letter to the Romans (12:3) speaks directly to those who feel just a little more important than everyone else:
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Now of course, there are many other references to hatred and bigotry, but for now, let these suffice.
The consequences of racism throughout the world have filled news headlines, bringing uncontrolled violence to city streets and neighborhoods, creating deep divisions between people and nations that have remained unresolved, many indeed going back to the time of Noah.
Armenians have known well of the centuries-old mistreatment of a minority people, and the absolute evil the poison of racism can inflict. We as a people and nation have been affected horrifically at the hands of the barbarian hoards from the time of the Roman Empire overlords to the Ottoman Turk, and in modern times, the Azeri Turk.
We as the Armenian people and nation – people of our Lord Jesus Christ – who have felt the bitter poison of bigotry and hatred – can never allow what was done to us infect our souls, our Church, our race, our culture, or our relations with any other ethnic group, faith, or race. If we do, then we become no better than those offenders of our people.
In America, we are still dealing with the shame of racial hatred and prejudice against the black man decades after the Civil Rights Movement and enactment of legislation prohibiting it. But what is the motivation that causes violence and death on our city streets, or for some, words of hate toward the person of another color or religious faith that can be spewed even from a pulpit?
Why does such a blinded hatred outweigh the understanding of the one true God whose message was always peace and love?
Can Christians respond to racism in sensitive ways that actually can make a difference?
Starting with that simple teaching of Jesus who said Love one another as I have loved you, we need to understand that Jesus offered no qualifications of ethnicity, race, gender, or social standing.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta put Jesus’ words another way:
If you judge people you have no time to love them.
C. S. Lewis hits mankind over the head with this quote:
Let’s pray that the human race never escapes from Earth to spread its iniquity elsewhere.
And these words from the Evangelist, Ravi Zacharias:
So it is that we must ask the question, what kind of future do we want? Do we want one where we penalize those that are prejudiced while retaining a selective sovereignty over our own prejudices? Or do we want a future where our children can learn to live and let live with civility and remind ourselves that the love of God must be the impetus that drives us to love our neighbor and that the real scourge of a sinful heart must drive us to submit to the Savior. Only in that forgiveness is there hope and the promise of a better day.
We all need to hold onto that promise.