Racism is sin and black lives matter. Neither one of these convictions should be hard to grasp for people of faith who read the Bible and take Jesus seriously. If we believe, as the book of Genesis tells us, that God created all people in God’s own image, then it stands to reason that every person is, in some way, a reflection of God and ought to be treated with honor and respect.
If we believe what Jesus tells us in John 12:32, that“when I am lifted up from the earth”—a reference to his crucifixion—“I will draw all people to myself,” then it is clear that all lives matter to Jesus. There are no loopholes in the phrase “all people.” Right now, though, it’s particularly important for us to affirm that black lives matter, because for too long what should be obvious to anyone who’s read the New Testament has not been obvious in practice.
If we believe that the apostle Peter is telling us the truth when he proclaims in Acts 10 that “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him,” then how can we, as the people of God, show partiality in how we treat others? God rejects the idea of prejudice. Seems like we should, too.
If we believe that John is seeing clearly in the book of Revelation when describing his vision of a great heavenly “multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (7:9), then we can assume that ethnic and racial diversity is not only welcomed, but celebrated, in the kingdom of God. And, as Jesus himself teaches us in Matthew 6:10, we are to pray for God’s will to be done “on earth, as it is in heaven.”
If we believe what we read in 1 John 4:20-21, that “those who say ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers and sisters are liars; for those who do not love a brother or a sister whom they have seen cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: Those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also”—well, if we believe that, then what else is there to say?
Racism is sin and black lives matter. These truths are self-evident. Christians, and other people of good will, ought not take these convictions for granted. The Bible certainly affirms them. All the way from Genesis to Revelation, Scripture gives a consistent testimony to God’s desire for justice and peace and righteousness—not only among God’s people, not only within the church of Jesus Christ, but throughout all of God’s creation.
We are, in this country, at one of those pivotal moments when positive, life-giving, and hope-fulfilling change feels very possible. I pray so. I want to live in a land where, as 1 John 4:18 puts it, “perfect love casts out fear.” In order for this kind of change to happen, we, the people of God, must live up to our calling to promote justice, peace, and righteousness in Jesus’ name. These have always been foundational, biblical priorities. They must become our priorities as well. When God’s people speak with one voice, tremendous walls long thought impregnable can crumble. Just ask the people of Jericho.
Exactly how the people of Providence will live up to our calling in this pivotal moment remains to be seen. I know we will have opportunities. What’s important to me, up front, is that we greet this moment with our hearts in the right place, centered on Jesus Christ and his love for all God’s children—and humbled by the reality that the Lord believes we have it in us to do what is right.
May the peace of Christ be with you!