The brutal murder of George Floyd marked the first time in a long time that evil made me physically sick to my stomach. Similar to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping through our nation, this hatred is news we can no longer tune out. It's a reality our friends and loved ones are protesting in quiet neighborhoods, at the police station downtown, and at the front door of the White House.
AN UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTION
Perhaps you too are nauseated at the thought of your child or neighbors growing up to experience––or participate in––such bigotry and ignorance. Picketing and posting our opposition on social media is a start. But we no longer have the luxury of not asking ourselves, “What must be done?” If we're not careful, we might gloss over this uncomfortable question or dismiss it because we don't identify as "racist."
At some point, we’ll all be tempted to give in to our personal bias and favoritism, specifically toward those who look or act like ourselves. It’s no secret that loving and being in relationship with people who are different from you can feel unnatural and risky. After all, doing life with people of different ethnicities and backgrounds could threaten our security and comfort. This happens when:
- Disagreements push us to find common ground.
- Quarrels require us to work toward reconciliation.
- Preferential treatment of others calls for humility and repentance.
Yet, a diverse community also broadens our perspectives, deepens our affections for fellow image-bearers, and gives us a foretaste of worship in Heaven. There, believers from every nation will gather to praise God for eternity (1 Corinthians 12:12; Revelation 7:9).
In light of racial injustice, what must be done? Or, more specifically: How should you and I respond to racial injustice? Since you're here with me, I know you're longing to find a biblical solution to this moral problem plaguing our society.
WORKING TOWARD A SOLUTION
Embracing a diverse community requires you to humble yourself and lay down your rights and comforts. But we live in a me-centered society. We naturally gravitate toward people similar to ourselves because they feel safe and can potentially benefit us emotionally (or maybe even materially). James warns us of this type of prejudice in James 2:1–4:
“My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, ‘You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor’—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?” (NLT)
To conquer the evil of prejudice, we believers have to be honest with ourselves about all the ways we too have embraced this "What's in it for me?" mentality. We must admit that, at times, we've preferred some people over others. But this partiality is incompatible with godly faith. It is sin which warrants confession and repentance (James 5:16).
Why are favoritism and bias so harshly contrasted with the Gospel? Because on the cross, Jesus modeled an unselfish love, forfeiting his comforts and advantages on our behalf. "Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being" (Philippians 2:6–7 NLT).
Jesus not only knew the risks involved in demonstrating his love toward sinful humanity, but he also took those risks. He did this despite the rejection, scorn, and suffering he would endure by our hands (Isaiah 53:3–5). There wasn't a single blow to his body or spiteful spit to the face that he didn't see coming. Yet he laid down everything to love us anyway.
SELFLESS LOVE IN A SELF-CENTERED SOCIETY
Jesus went “all in” with his glorious display of love on the cross to reconcile sinners to the Father. Now, Christ calls his followers to likewise act with humble, risk-taking love toward others. This sacrificial love is the only cure for the sin-disease called racism. And if we pursue legislation and social reform but neglect to love God and others as we love ourselves, this cycle of racial injustice will continue because our hearts will remain unchanged.
If we want to see racial reconciliation in our nation, cities, and neighborhoods, we must believe with Jesus that love is worth the risk. This costly love challenges us to mourn with the marginalized over racial inequality. Love calls us to confront our biases, celebrate diversity, and proclaim that every human being is treasured by God and created in his image (Genesis 1:26–27).
Displaying risk-taking love doesn't have to be loud or extravagant. Your neighbors, co-workers, and friends of different ethnicities or backgrounds will value your efforts to connect with them. This looks like:
- Valuing the perspectives and experiences that they bring to the table.
- Fighting to see their needs met as if they were your own.
- And celebrating our similarities and differences as God's craftsmanship.
Follow Jesus in Your Own Life
Choosing to model Jesus' risk-taking love will look different for each of us. For a student, it may be leaving your comfort zone to try sitting with a new crowd at lunch. If you're a career professional, it may look like making an intentional effort to encourage and advocate for diversity at all levels of your organization. For a mom, it might look like making an effort to engage in relationships with families unlike your own. Like Jesus, we will have to sacrifice to make this happen, but I think we'll find we gain more in return.
We will feel tempted at times to tune out this controversial issue of racial injustice and retreat to our comfortable “normal” instead. But we can't allow the subject of race to intimidate or discourage us, or make us numb. Instead, let's confront bigotry by asking the Holy Spirit to help us reveal our biases. From there, we must walk faithfully in confession and repentance. Let’s be women who live sacrificial lives modeled after Christ—because loving others is worth the risk.
Meet the Author
Titania Paige is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for crafting faith-driven messages that transform Christian audiences. As the host of the Purpose in Purity Podcast, she starts grace-centered conversations on surrendering our soul and sexuality to God. She's self-published several books, including her upcoming release, Come Home: A Redemptive Roadmap from Lust Back to Christ (August 2020). Together with her baby girl and husband, she lives in Memphis, TN, with plans to serve as a missionary family in Osaka, Japan.