Listen, we need to have a difficult discussion. What happened in Minneapolis recently is not okay. We can not keep making excuses for hatred. My heart hurts today, guys. A man, a human being, our brother in Christ, literally having the life snuffed from his body. It’s not right, not for anyone to have the authority to take a life. Can we examine this today? Because I strongly feel it is our duty as Christians to help abolish racism and hatred. It’s a tall order, and we can’t do it alone, but maybe we can open this up together. Let’s do this, for Amaud Arbery and George Floyd, and so many others.
Luke 10 Jesus is talking to an expert in law who is asking how to inherit eternal life, to which Jesus answers a question with a question. He asked the guy, “What is written in the law?” The guy responds, “It says, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus says “That’s exactly right. Go and do that.” Then the guy asks again, “Well then who is my neighbor?” In other words, do I have to love people who dress differently than me? Because I’m so put together. Do I have to love people less educated than me? Do I have to love people with weird hair and tattoos? Do we have to love them too? Do we have to love people with different accents, nationalities, and skin colors?
Jesus responds to the man with a story about a Jewish man on the road to Jericho when he was approached by robbers who beat the snot out of him and left him bleeding in a ditch to die. A Jewish priest walks by and sees one of his own left for dead in a ditch, but decides not to help because it would make him “unclean”. Then another Jewish man, a Levite walks by and sees the dying man and quite literally turns a blind eye and acts like he doesn’t notice. Then Jesus said “But a Samaritan” and these words are so important to the time because the Jewish people HATED the Samaritans, and vice versa. But a Samaritan took pity on the victim, bandaged his wounds, put him on a donkey and took him to an inn where he could be cared for. The Samaritan who would have been hated by the Jewish man did one simple act of kindness, took pity on another human being despite the difference in race, and ultimately showed love to a man who was in need.
Dr. Martin Luther King also used this story to prove a point saying “The first question the priest and the Levite asked is “If I help this man, what will happen to me?”, the Samaritan reversed the question, “If I do not stop, what will happen to him?” This is the heart of the Gospel, loving God and loving others, even if they’re different from us. That being said, racism in and of itself is not as much of a “skin issue” as it is a “sin issue”. We simply can not call ourselves Christians and say we walk with Christ if we are not fully committed to loving God and loving others. James 2:9 “If you favor some people over others you are committing a sin. We have to call it what it is. It’s not right before God and it should not be right before us. So how do we as followers of Jesus love our neighbors even if they’re different than we are.
First and foremost we must recognize our prejudices. With God’s help we must be honest, transparent, and sincere. We must look in the mirror and look past the feelings that lead us feeling justified in our discrimination- even if it isn’t intentional, it’s still real and sinful. It takes courage, honesty and integrity to recognize truthfully any prejudices, to admit them before God and repent.
Second, we have to seek to understand others. I, personally, have a limited perspective, and I know it. I don’t always understand how others have been abused, mistreated, or unfairly rejected. It helps me sometimes to talk to those who have had these experiences to better understand their different perspectives.
Third, we’re going to love those who are different from us. Love them deeply from the heart as God calls us to do. Racism isn’t just the presence of hatred, it’s the absence of love. The absence of showing I accept you, I embrace you, you’re my brother, you’re my sister, I love you. The absence of touch, saying you’re welcome, being one together and showing love.
How will they know we’re followers of Jesus? If we love one another, plain and simple. How do you love your neighbor? You love them the way Jesus loves you, Christ died for us while we were still sinning. He didn’t die for us because we were good, He died for us because God is good. He loved me when I didn’t deserve it and so I have no other response than to reflect that type of love to others.
Who is your neighbor? It’s the next person you come in contact with.