EDITOR’S NOTE: David Johnson is executive director of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention.
PHOENIX (BP) — Not long ago, I preached in a downtown mission to a group of men who had been living on the street. It was a diverse group and I wanted to talk with them about racism in the wake of recent events that had raised tensions in various communities around the country.
I wanted to share with them what the Bible said about what they had in common beyond just their shared circumstances and how Christ gives us ultimate unity.
I noted seven biblical reasons why racism is wrong. Here they are:
God created all races (Genesis 1:27)
Every person from every race is created in the image of God. Races were not accidental or the result of sin. They are an expression of God Himself. He built diversity into the very DNA of mankind. If God created all races, then we must show value and respect for all races.
All races are fallen and sinful (Romans 3:10,23)
The Bible teaches that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There is no race that can claim to be better than any other when it comes to the degree of sinfulness. Romans 3:10 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one” (CSB). What applies to individuals is true of races as well. We are all equally fallen.
God loves all races (John 3:16; 1 John 4:14)
When the Bible says, “For God loves the world in this way …” (John 3:16 CSB), it is talking about the people of the world of all races and nationalities. God did not just show His love to one ethnic group, but all. That is why John says later that He is the world’s Savior (1 John 4:14 CSB).
Christ died for all races (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Hebrews 9:12)
The apostle Paul says that Christ died for all in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. Christ died for all the peoples of the world. The only hope any person of any race has for salvation is in Christ. Hebrews 9:12 says that Christ entered the “holy of holies” with His own blood “once for all” to make the sacrifice for our sins. If Christ died for all races, then we cannot discriminate one over another.
Christ breaks down the wall between races (Ephesians 2:14-15)
Jesus not only broke down the wall of separation between us and God with His death on the cross, but the wall that separates us from one another. He broke down the barriers of hatred and division by giving us peace with God and peace with one another. This was not just true for Jew and Gentile but for all races.
We are one in Christ (Galatians 3:28-29)
The unity we experience in Christ results from sharing in a common faith in a common Savior that makes us part of the same family of God. That is why there is no more division between Jew and Gentile, male or female, slave or free. If we have all been saved by the same One, then we are all one in Him!
All races will join together in heaven (Revelation 7:9-10)
Ultimately, there will be people in heaven glorifying God around His throne from every nation, tribe, people and language (Revelation 7:9 CSB). We need to get used to joining together with people from other races because we are going to be spending eternity together! There will be no racism in heaven. That is just one of the things that will make heaven heaven!
I was visiting with a pastor who had received an anonymous letter from a person in his church recently lamenting the growing racial diversity in the congregation and the multi-ethnic expressions of worship. The letter said, “After all, this is the United States of America.”
I told the pastor that I hope that person knows that heaven is going to be filled with people from all races even more than the United States. He may not like it there! The Bible gives us plenty of reasons to know that racism is wrong. We just need to believe it and live it.