I’m not a racist but…
For years the phrase that makes my skin crawl always starts the same way “I’m not racist, but…” What follows is always a racist statement. It is as if the first part of the statement clears the way for us to be horrible people and get away with it. It is akin to “Don’t take offense to this, but…” Like someone will say “Oh, since you said don’t be offended I guess I can’t be…” Seriously, you are just looking for a way to be a not very nice person and have an avenue to justify yourself. Racism is unfortunately still a problem in America and it is even more so unfortunately a problem in churches. I have had more than one “Christian” come to me with the crushing and sinful statement “I’m not a racist, but…” and follow up with something that is racist yet they justify it as not racist because they said they weren’t racist. The reality is we can say “I’m not a racist” but if our words speak in a racially demeaning way the truth is you probably are racist, and that my friend is a sin. Racism is a sin. No way around it. I also hear “I have lots of (insert race) friends so they would agree…” I bet they wouldn’t… As a matter of fact, people agree on lots of things that are sinful and that doesn’t somehow make them magically righteous.
Let us start with the fact that God is not racist. Genesis 1:27 states “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him; make and female He created them.” When we look at the world around us we see a beautiful image of God in an array of colors. Revelation 7:9 gives us a glimpse of heaven as the great multitude gather before the Lamb. “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” God saves us regardless of race and one day we will worship with every tribe, tongue, and nation, as one before the LORD. God is not a racist, as a matter of fact He is color blind. His salvation is available to all regardless of race, economics, or social position. So if God is not racist, how could His people be?
Secondly we are called to reflect Christ so if He is not racist then we should not be either. Ephesians 5:1 tells us that we are to be imitators of God. Again, if God is not racist then our imitation of Him should be the same. Paul tells the church in Corinth “Follow my example, as a I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1) We must set the example for others and we cannot do that if we cling to racism of any type, no matter how small it may seem. Paul says of Christ, His great salvation, in Colossians 3:11 “Here there is no Gentile, Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” In Christ race is not existent, there is not race but Christ is all and is in all. Race is a flesh issue we see without looking deeper into the heart as Christ does. If we are going to reflect Christ we must remember that racism does not do that, it reflects sinfulness.
Finally, racism is a heart/flesh issue that we must repent of. Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we need to cast off every weight and sin that we might run the race set before us with endurance. Racism is sinfulness and we must cast it off. We need to learn to listen to others of different races. To engage in conversation and learn from one another. Culture seems to stir racism up through media so we have to be careful not to engage in baited race wars. Churches should be a beautiful array of Gods image bearers worshiping together. We need to pray for forgiveness and as we go out in the world let Christ truly be seen in us. We need to repent and become the people we are called to be made up of every tribe, tongue, and nation.
May we no longer think that saying “I’m not racist, but…” is a justification but understand it is still nothing more than racism, pure and simple. May we begin to repent and see race as God’s beautiful design and not something to attack. May we bridge that divide that is deep and still painful around us through Christ that works in and through us. God has made us in His image, to bear His image, to live that others see His image, may we do it rightly. I remember the words of the song I sang so often as a child “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red and yellow black and white…” Truly He does and so should we….