I remember the day quite well.
I was sitting in my dorm room at West Virginia University, during my freshmen year, when “John” entered my room. “John” was unhappy and he wanted to share with me his frustration. His anger was centered on a person who lived in the floor, a person whom I thought was a decent guy and great future talent. “John” in his anger used words and language that was inappropriate and uncomfortable to hear. What I learned that “John” was not angry simply because of something that may or may not have happened, but because of my acquaintance’s race.
It wasn’t the first time I had encountered racism. Growing up in West Virginia, racism was a central belief for too many. Racism is wrong. It is vile. And, unfortunately, it continues still today.
We like to believe racism is no longer a problem in the United State, but it is present in many sections of our country. It is my belief that racism may be more an issue today for many of reasons. That is because it is not discussed and when it is discussed we immediately believe someone is playing the “race card” and dismiss their arguments. It may also be a bigger issue, now, because our racism is not limited to white and black issues, but includes racial differences that extends beyond many cultures and races.
If there is any doubt racism still exists in our world, one only needs to see the reaction some have had towards President Obama, or the ongoing outcry regarding a recent shooting in Florida, or the controversy at ESPN regarding comments made about Jeremy Lin.
As Christians, we are called to be followers of Christ in seeing a world that no longer sees others only by their skin color. So, how do we do this? I believe we have two guiding principles that help us.
First, Genesis teaches us that we are all created in the image of God. Each of us shares a common humanity that comes from the love of God. The image of God is not exclusive to a chosen race or a chosen culture. It is a blessing bestowed upon all of creation. When we see that we are all created in the image of God, it should open us to see the commonality that each of us have. Thus, we are not separate by our races, but unified by our shared nature that comes from the hand of God.
As well, Paul writes in Galatians 3:28 that there is neither Jew or Greek, male or female, in the eyes of God. We could also add that there are no races. We are all united by the blood of Christ, who died and rose for all. When we see that Christ’s love is there for all, it should inspire us to share that love with others, regardless of one’s race or culture. To deny someone the love of Christ because of their race is to deny the power and holy love of Jesus Christ.
We, who are followers of Christ, are called to take the lead in tearing down the walls of racism that still exist in our country and our world. This can only happen when we desire to be witnesses who welcome others because God has welcomed us.
Let us share the common good and work to eliminate racism from our vocabulary, so that all will know the love of Christ.