Gospel Life: Race Relations

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is more than the death burial and resurrection of Christ. The Gospel is more than a plan of salvation. The Gospel is not just something you believe in and move on. You never graduate from the Gospel, instead, you go deeper into the Gospel. The Gospel changes everything. It changes your eternal destination. It changes your attitude. It changes your behavior. It changes your thought processes. The Gospel is something that you live out on a daily basis.
When it comes to Gospel life we must understand how the Gospel applies to the various issues of our day. One such issue has been a part of much discussion for many years and that is the issue of race.
What is race? As in any discussion, it is important that you clearly define the terms that you are dealing with. Wikipedia defines race as: a grouping of humans based on shared physical or social qualities into categories generally viewed as distinct by society. First used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations, by the 17th century the term race began to refer to physical traits. It is important to note that the definition of race is a man-made definition. It is something that has been developed by society. Scientifically speaking, there is really no such thing as race. Scientists today agree that there is really only one biological race of humans. In his book, One Blood, Ken Ham explains the genetic makeup of human beings. He writes, “Geneticists have found that if we were to take any two people from anywhere in the world, the basic genetic differences between these two people would typically be around 0.2 percent, even if they came from the same people group. ‘Racial’ characteristics account for only about 6 percent of this 0.2 percent variation. That means that the racial genetic variation between human beings of different race is a mere 0.012 percent. Overall, there is far more variation within a people group than there is between one people group and another.” Therefore, we can conclude that scientifically there is only one race. However, socially and culturally there are different people groups. The differences amongst humans has nothing to do with the color of skin, but rather, how and where they grew up. However, for the sake of clarity, for the remainder of this study we will consider race as we would define it in our society today.
Where did the different races come from? The ultimate question is how did we end up with so many different shades of skin and how did we end up with so many different people groups. The explanation is found in the Old Testament. The first man, Adam, was created perfect. Before the fall his mind and body were not tainted by sin. Adam was created with a complete and perfect genetic makeup. God is a God of creativity and color. Therefore, He created the first man with the capacity to produce children with a variety of skin color. Adam and Eve sinned against God and was cast out of the Garden of Eden. As they began to have children, they passed on to their children that original genetic makeup. Adam and Eve produced both dark skinned children and lighter skinned children. Keep in mind, however, that over time man’s genetics have become tainted and flawed due to the curse of sin. That is why, at the beginning, close relatives could marry and have children. Over time, this became a problem in the genetic code, producing deformities, so by the time we get to the book of Leviticus, God forbids them to marry and have children with close relatives.
You may ask, well what about Noah and his family. At the time of the flood, they were the only ones that survived. How did we get the different colors of skin after Noah? The curse of sin is a process. At the time of Noah there was still different shades of skin within a family unit and, no doubt, Noah’s son’s represented various skin colors.
Fast forward now to the tower of babel. This is where things really get interesting. The people became very wicked and prideful and disobedient. God told them to scatter and populate the earth. However, they stayed in one place and started to build a tower to reach the heavens. They felt they would be stronger if they all stayed together, even stronger than God. So, God confused their languages. This is where all the different languages came from. The people naturally grouped together according to the language that they understood. This grouping together according to language would lead to barriers in the gene pool. The people began to move away from each other and migrated to various parts of the world. Ken Ham writes: “As these groups migrated away from Babel, they encountered new and different climate zones and natural selection began its work.” Keep in mind that natural selection is not evolution. It is simply acting on the characteristics in the gene pool. “Some people groups may have moved to cold areas with little sunlight. In those areas, the dark-skinned members would not be able to produce enough vitamin D and would be less healthy and have fewer children. In time, light-skinned members of these groups would predominate. If several groups went to such an area, and if one group happened to be carrying few genes for lightness, the group could potentially die out.” This also would apply for those who went to warmer climates. In that case, the dark-skinned members would thrive while the lighter skinned members would struggle. Over time, you had certain skin colors predominate in certain locations of the world due to the genetic makeup and the climate.
There is much scientific evidence that can be used that would trace the development of various people groups from the tower of Babel. The main thing we need to understand here when it comes to race relations is that it really has nothing to do with the color of one’s skin, rather, it has to do with their cultural background and up-bringing.
How should Christians look at race? First of all, we must not be color-blinded. Some people will say that when it comes to race they are color-blind. In other words, they don’t see black or white, they just see people. This is certainly a good point. We should look at everyone the same and we should treat everyone the same. However, God made color. God made us with variety. His creation is very colorful. Therefore, we should recognize and acknowledge that there are white people and black people and red people and yellow people, etc. God is not color-blind, neither should we be. There is nothing wrong with seeing color. There is also nothing wrong with recognizing and understanding that there are different culture backgrounds that make us different from one another. This diversity should be embraced. It should be celebrated, not denied. Another way in which Christians should look at race is to embrace who you are. I know that what I am going to say here may be misunderstand, but, hear me out. If you are white, then be white. If you are black, then be black. If you are country boy or girl, then be a country boy or girl. If you are a city boy or girl, then be a city boy or girl. If you are northern, then be northern. If you are southern, then be southern. If you are Hispanic, then be Hispanic. If you are Asian, then be Asian. Just be who you are. Be who God made you to be and don’t try to be or act like something that you are not.
How should Christians respond to racial tension? There has always been racial tension in our nation and there probably always will be. The reason for this has little to nothing to do with the color of one’s skin. However, it has everything to do with cultural differences. So, how should Christians respond to this racial and cultural tension? First of all, we must treat everyone equally. There is no group of people that is greater or less than another. We have all been created in the image of God. The Bible gives us principles on how we should relate to other people. Never, does the Bible suggest that we treat people differently based on the color of their skin or even their cultural background. As Christians, we should show respect and care for people no matter if they are rich or poor, black or white, country or city, etc. Secondly, we must exercise love and grace. When people are indifferent, rude, or hateful toward us; does not mean that we treat them the same in return. Instead, we are to show them love and grace. Jesus said that we are even to love our enemies. Jesus loves all people and so should we. Finally, we must preach the Gospel to all people. Here is something very important to understand. Our job is to bring the Gospel to all people no matter what. I have seen church planters who will try to purposefully build a multi-racial congregation. This is all fine and good, but, why not just preach the Gospel to all people and accept whoever God brings to your church? People will tend to congregate with those of a similar culture and that’s okay. If our church is predominately white, it’s okay. If it’s predominately black, that is also okay. If it is a mix of several races, then that is okay too. The bottom line is, we are simply to preach Jesus to everyone. We are not to target one group over another. We are to preach the Gospel to all who will hear.
As Christians we should practice racial unity. We should preach Jesus to everyone. We should welcome all cultures and skin colors into our church. We should not get caught up in racial arguments. We should just simply see people as God’s sees them and love them as God loves them. Technically, there are two races of people: Saved people and Lost people. As saved people, we have a responsibility to reach the lost people to Jesus. Don’t get caught up in debates over race. Just love everyone and preach the Gospel to everyone and be who God created you to be.

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