Racism in America is nothing new, but the past several years have been particularly filled with headlines on the issue, far more than we should be comfortable with. It’s an problem that Christians need to respond to, but often trivial things like Starbucks Cups are what capture our offense and commentary instead. We are far too easily incited by small matters and far too quickly ignore the issues about which God calls us to actually care.
Most recently, the University of Missouri has come into spotlight as years of racial tensions finally escalated to the point of President Tim Wolfe’s resignation this past Tuesday. In a trending piece on the topic, Gospel Coalition writer Isaac Adams encourages readers not to turn away from this story and others like it, but to engage in what is going on in our country and to be active agents in reconciliation.
Adams shares a personal story of his own experience with racism. It is a story that should make us all weep. You can read it in full here. By God’s grace, Adams was able to respond in “the more excellent way.” He credits his church- a predominately white congregation- for listening to his story and weeping with him. “My church’s love for one another reminds me of the hope we have in the gospel.”
How should Christians respond to racism and racial tensions?
1. Don’t turn away. Ask the God to give you His Spirit so that you might have eyes to see and ears to hear the racism around you. Like Adams’ church, be willing to listen and give voice to the your fellow image-bearers and meet them in their pain.
2. Speak out. Christians (especially pastors from the pulpit) must speak out against racism and work for reconciliation. Crosswalk blogger Daniel Darling writes:
“We must preach the gospel as the only cure for racism. Racism is the fruit of sin embedded in the heart of every man. Only Christ, who crushed the serpent and defeated death can move into the racist's heart and recreate it to be a heart of love. The cross is where racism goes to die, for every man, red and yellow, black and white, is in need of God's saving grace. There is hope for the repentant racist, but it will only happen as Christ renews his mind and redeems his view of his fellow man… God delights in welcoming sinners home, including repentant racists.”
3. Look Inward. Daniel ends his article by encouraging believers to look inside themselves and repent of tendencies toward racism and prejudice.
“We should humbly consider our own sinful tendencies toward prejudice. Racism begins in a corrupted, sinful heart. Only God’s sanctifying grace can remove the cancer of racism and replace it with a heart that reflects God’s heart.”