via Meditate on These Things
Tri-County Church of Christ, Watertown, NY
December 30, 2006
No attitude of mind is further from the spirit of Christ than that of racial hatred. No, I am not thinking in terms of degree of sin, I simply mean that racial hatred and prejudices are totally antagonistic to and opposite of the "mind of Christ" that caused Him to give up His equality with God and come to earth for the specific purpose of dying for all men. In this article we will look at some thoughts concerning the focus of racial hatred, the root cause of racial hatred, fruits of racial hatred, and conclude by considering racial hatred compared to the spirit of Christ and God-likeness.
Racial hatred focuses on outward appearances rather than the inner man. The first thing a prejudiced person notices is skin color. Perhaps we all, consciously or subconsciously, notice whether the person we just met is white, black, hispanic or oriental. However, some not only notice skin color but immediately formulate attitudes of acceptance or rejection based solely on one’s color of skin. In the 1800's and even into the 1900's many caucasians believed that black people did not have souls. All blacks were considered at one time to be good only as slaves.
When God rejected Saul as king over Israel due to his disobedience, He sent Samuel to the household of Jesse to anoint the one He had chosen to become the new king. I Samuel 16:6-7 says that Samuel "looked at Eliab and thought, surely the Lord's anointed is before Him. But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’"
Acts 13:22 tells us what God was interested in concerning who would be king over Israel. "...I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will." God looked into David’s heart and saw a man who had a love for Him and was willing to submit totally to His will. There are so many passages of scripture we could quote to show that God is not concerned with outward appearances but with what is found in men’s hearts. Does God care whether one is black, white, brown or any other color? No, He cares if we are humble, merciful and obedient, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).
Outward appearances can be deceiving and often have nothing to do with one's true self. Jesus severely chastised the Pharisees for putting on a show of exterior piety but inwardly they were full of hatred and hypocrisy. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness" (Matthew 23:27). Jesus died for all men and His love was expressed toward all men.
It is my conviction that no one can be pleasing to God who bases his acceptance or rejection of others according to outward appearances. Even as racial hatred focuses on outward appearances, it is rooted (finds its origin) in an attitude of superiority. Racial hatred is demonstrated when people refer to someone in terms of derision according to their race or nationality. The account of the Pharisee and the publican who went into the Temple to pray illustrates how hatred for others most often is rooted in an attitude of self-superiority. In Romans 12:3 the apostle Paul warned, "...not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think, but to think so as to have sound judgment..,"
Time and again Jesus taught His disciples to not think in terms of personal superiority, but to be humble, willing to serve others. He demonstrated this in the most forceful of ways by washing His own disciples' feet even though He was the very Son of God. How grieved our Lord must be as He looks upon His people for whom He died and hears them use ugly words of racial hatred. Brethren, be honest with yourself; no one loves God and Jesus Christ who refers to another human being in vile and ugly terms (I John 4:20-21).
Racial hatred produces division rather than unity. At the time Jesus lived among men, the Jews, more specifically the Pharisees, had totally separated themselves from anyone they considered unclean. Thus, they had absolutely nothing to do with the Gentiles. This attitude of prejudice made it difficult to bring about the unity in Christ between Jew and Gentile that God desired. John 17:20-22 contains a portion of Christ’s prayer for unity among believers. We should be impressed with how important unity is to God by the fact this prayer came in the shadow of the cross. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). I believe God would have His children work together to show the world by example that true racial equality and racial harmony are to be found only in Jesus Christ. The Constitution and various laws of mankind can be and are well-meaning but will never accomplish racial peace and love as does conversion to Jesus Christ. If we follow in the footsteps of Jesus as we are supposed to (I Peter 2:20-22), we will love all men, showing partiality to none and being prejudiced against no one merely due to race. I once heard a dear sister in Christ say of a black friend, "She’s as white as I am in God’s sight." I am confident she did not mean the comment to be a racial slur, yet it demonstrates how easily we can have an attitude of racial prejudice.
There is no room in heaven for anyone who hates or considers another inferior simply due to race or skin color. Very little progress has been made in our nation in overcoming racial prejudices, injustices, and hatreds. I pray the Lord’s people will show the way of love for all and equality among all in Jesus Christ. May we never shame His precious name by being guilty of racial hatred.