Biblical Perspective on Racism

by Larry L. Page – Executive Director
Arkansas Faith and Ethics Council

The Bible deals extensively with man’s relationship to his fellow man. In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus states that loving your neighbor is the second greatest commandment, second only to loving God. A careful study of the Bible shows that it gives important principles that can be applied to race relations.

We are of common origin.
The Bible tells us that humans belong to a single family and have a common origin. Acts 17:26 says, “He (God) has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.” The Genesis account tells of our common ancestry in Adam (Genesis 5) and again in Noah after the flood (Genesis 10). In addition, modern science has shown our common ancestry. Gary Murchie, in his book The Seven Mysteries of Life, shows that all humans are at least 50th cousins to one another.

We are created in the image of God.
Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” The uniqueness and unity of humanity originates from the fact that all people are made in the image of God. Genesis 2:7 tells of God breathing “the breath of life” into man. Each man is unique in that he possesses a soul. Human life is sacred because all human life and only human life is created in the image of God.

Christ died for everyone.
John 3:16 puts no limitation when it says, “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God’s saving grace extends to everyone who believes. Hebrews 2:9 says that Christ came to this earth to die for every man. If Christ excluded no one from His love, then neither should we. In fact, Christ commands us to bring the gospel to “all nations” in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. And again in Luke 24:47, He commands that the “remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations.”

All believers are part of the family of God.
Believers of all races are brothers and sisters together with God as the one Father. Malachi 2:10 says, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” Ephesians 4:4-6 proclaims, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” There is no room for division within the Body of Believers. God’s Word makes that clear.

God tears down human barriers.
Galatians 3:26 and 28 says, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” No human barrier is too strong for Christ to tear down. The problem of racism may seem enormous, but it is not too big for God. In fact, if we are truly “in Christ Jesus,” then division cannot exist among us. The racial barriers that exist must be torn down.

God is no respecter of persons.
Romans 2:11 declares, “For there is no partiality with God.” In the Lord’s eyes, we are all of equal value. Ephesians 6:9 and I Peter 1:17 also says that Lord has “no partiality.” In James 2:1, the Lord commands us to follow in His example when He says, “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.” Race does not matter to God; therefore, it should not matter to us.

The relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans during the time of the New Testament is comparable to the modern race relations in our country. The Samaritans were of mixed races and were despised by many of the Jews. Jesus, however, demonstrated His love for them during His ministry on the earth. John 4 tells of Jesus intentionally traveling through Samaria. It was the usually practice of His day to go around Samaria and not through it, but Jesus said that He “needed” (v. 4) to go through Samaria. Often times people will go out of their way to avoid people of a different race, sometimes without even realizing that they are doing it. While in Samaria, Jesus ministered to the people there, and many became believers. You are never more like Jesus than when you are seeking to be a faithful witness to the world around you, especially when it is hostile to you and to your message.

Love thy neighbor
In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus says that the second greatest commandment next to loving Him is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” A Biblical stance on racism hangs upon this principle. Luke 10:25-37 is perhaps one of the most famous parables, the story of the “Good Samaritan.” In this parable, Jesus answers the question, “Who is my neighbor?” (v.29) Jesus tells us of a man who was beaten by thieves. A Jewish priest and a Levite both passed by the man without helping him, but a Samaritan came by and gave him help. By telling the Jews that even the Samaritans who they despised were their neighbor, Jesus was telling us that all people are our neighbors whom we are commanded to love and that we demonstrate this love through our actions.

Ministry of Reconciliation
2 Corinthians 6:18-19 says, “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” Christians are given the job of resolving our differences and becoming one in Christ.