Christianity can defeat Racism!

Some of the greatest tragedies we face in our world are the prejudice, suspicion, hatred, and strife arising from the differences between races. Still vivid in the memory of many is Hitler's liquidation of more than six million Jews, and those familiar with the Bible remember the plot to exterminate the whole race of the Jews under Ahasurus of Persia. But these extremes of prejudice are only the outgrowth of the self-interest which is in each one of us. Each one, until he learns better, by some instinct of nature tends to draw a circle around himself. Within the circle he encloses all the rights and privileges he wants for himself, and others are not to encroach on them.

With more maturity, however, he enlarges the circle to include his immediate family, then by successive stages his relatives near and far, his tribe or clan, his nation, and finally his race. He knows the background and culture of his own race, his nation and tribe. He knows their aspirations, ways of thinking and acting, but he is suspicious of those with different backgrounds, customs, languages, and colors. With differences in education and wealth the prejudice may become more bitter. Those with greater advantages may despise, or look down on those with less. The poor may envy, resent, and even hate the affluent and educated. Such differences can lead to the danger of strife, as with blacks and whites in some American cities and in South Africa, or to open war, as between Israel and the Arabs in the Middle East.

What is the Lord's answer to such problems? His answer lies in three fundamental facts which we all should recognize. First, we know that all races - white, black, yellow, and red, and all the mixtures between - came from a single ancestor. We are, therefore, by blood a single world-wide family, with a single Heavenly Father. Though we may not know how differences in color arose, we can understand how peoples, isolated from others through centuries, develop different languages and customs. But underneath the differences of custom, we all have basically the same nature - the ability to love and hate, a sense of responsibility, a conscience, and a respect for justice and right, though we may define them differently. So the first step we need to take is to enlarge our circle one more step to include all races and nations - black, white, yellow and red - and begin trying to understand their backgrounds, cultures, and ways of thinking and living. With more understanding, we may be surprised to find that other races and peoples are very much like us, with the same natures, aspirations, and hopes. Second, we must also recognize that this is the development God expects of us. To be sure, when the world became filled with corruption and violence, God selected a man of great faith through whom he could ultimately bless this corrupt world. To preserve his faith through the centuries until the Christ should come, God built a barrier between Israel and the Gentile world. But after Christ came, this "wall of partition" was taken away, as the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 2: 14. It took a miracle to convince Peter of this fact, but after the vision on the housetop, he said to Cornelius in Acts 10: 34,35, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respector of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him". And Paul again declares in Romans 2: 11, "There is no respect of persons with God". This means that neither race, color, nationality, wealth, or poverty influences God's approval or rejection. The only quality that weighs with God is character, heart, and life - "He that feareth God and worketh righteousness is acceptable to him", (Acts 10: 35).

Finally, what is the attitude God expects us to have toward those of a different race, color, language, nation, or even social status? Jesus put the attitude perfectly when he said in Matthew 7: 12, "Whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, even so do you also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets". This rule was not given for the Jewish people alone, but for all people of all races and nations. It is the perfect end toward which all the law and the teaching of the Lord is directed. It requires that each one put himself in the place of the other. We do not want others to be prejudiced against us; we want them to understand us. Hence we are not to be prejudiced against others, but try to understand them. No matter in what position we may find ourselves, we want to be treated with consideration, fairness, kindness, even sympathy, and sometimes with compassion and mercy. We are, therefore, to treat others in the same manner. This is a very simple principal and easy to understand. If we would follow it, no matter what others may do, it would go far in removing all prejudice and misunderstanding of others, and would also go far in removing the prejudice of others toward us. May the Lord grant us the intelligence and faith to understand and accept His wisdom and to practice it in our attitude towards others.

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