FIVE REASONS RACISM GRIEVES GOD
Throughout human history mankind has had trouble loving one another. Ever since the fall and the first murder among brothers (Gen.3–4) mankind has widely harbored anger towards other people. A common extension of this hated is racism or a kind of racial superiority that finds its foundation in nothing short of a failure to love one another. And contrary to popular belief, racism is not a new phenomenon; but one that has plagued human relationships for thousands of years. Mankind has a natural tendency to surround themselves with those who are like them. In our isolation and ethnic pride, we lay a fertile ground for sinful treatment of people who look differently than ourselves. This is sin and grieves the heart of God.
The Bible speaks of our ability to grieve God by our sin and that Christian’s in particular can quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thess.5:19). And while the Bible does not specifically mention the evil of racism and how it grieves the heart of God, it can easily be deduced by considering other timeless truths about God, mankind, and the commandments of God for His creation. Let’s consider five reasons racism grieves the heart of God:
1. All people are made in Gods image
Genesis tells us that as God created mankind, He literally breathed life into the dust of the earth and made man from the ground. But the more beautiful aspect of this is that mankind was not merely created by God along with all other creatures, but that mankind alone represents Him. The phrase ‘image of God’ is one that theologians refer to as the Imago Dei, a Latin form of the image of God, which speaks of God’s specific creation of mankind as those who represent His rule over the earth. What’s important to notice is that God did not make two different kinds of humans, but all from one ancestor, Adam. Each ethnicity comes from this single ancestor. For that reason, all mankind is on an equal playing field as those who are created by God and are image bearers of the Lord Himself. Thus, to see one race as superior or subhuman is to defy God’s high creation of His representation on earth. Consequently, the very idea of different races is in itself a false dichotomy. As R.L. Holtz states, “Race is a social construct derived mainly from perceptions conditioned by events of recorded history, and it has no basic biological reality.” Man was created by God and there is one race - the human race. All are created in the image of God and have equal intrinsic worth.To propagate anything different is sin and leads to sin.
“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:27 NASB
2. Partiality is sin
To show favoritism over certain people or act indifferent towards the plight of others is to show partiality. It is to become choosey and selfish in who one decides who deserves their love and at what level. With that said, it is natural within us to gravitate towards people and surround ourselves with those that are like us; and we must not view that as sin. But, as mentioned, this only aids the temptation residing within us to view our social group as elite and superior. Of this, we must beware. Like children on a playground, we often wrestle with developing cliques among our ethnicities and cultural preferences and in so doing can quickly be filled with pride and partiality toward those most like us. This is sin and grieves God.
“…do not hold the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.” – James 2:1 NASB
3. Racism violates the second great commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.
As Jesus states the second greatest commandment to love one’s neighbor as themselves (Matt.22:39), He means to imply that all of mankind is to love all people. The term ‘neighbor’ does not speak of one’s physical location, but of the common bond of humanity found within each person. The logical outworking of this means that no one has the right to choose who they will and will not love; but that all people must love all people even as they love themselves. There is no greater mark of a child of God than to love others. To withhold love is to reveal a heart that has, perhaps, not experienced the love of God. To deny another image bearer love based on the color of one’s skin, is nothing short of defiant sin that grieves the heart of God.
“…let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” – 1 John 4:7-8 NASB
4. God loves diversity
One of my favorite things to do is people watch. Not in a weird stalkerish way – but I genuinely love to go to a major airport or heavily populated area and see all of the different types of people. America is, perhaps, the beacon of celebrating diversity and I believe Christian Americans should lead in celebrating this reality of God’s apparent love for diversity in creation. As John Piper states, “By focusing on all the people groups of the world, God undercuts ethnocentric pride and throws all peoples back upon his free grace rather than any distinctive of their own.” Thus, love, humility, and the striving for peace among mankind naturally leads to the celebration of that which is different and diverse. To not understand this about God’s nature and intention within His creation is to misunderstand God and set up an idol to one’s own liking according to one’s own preference. This is sin and grieves the heart of God.
“…and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.” – Acts 17:26-28 NASB
5. Heaven will be full of all nations
From the beginning of the creation of the first man (Gen. 3) to the end of the Bible (Rev. 22), we find that God plans to save a specific people for Himself. And this people who will enter paradise and experience the eternal joys of heaven will not be singular in culture or ethnicity or skin color – but will appear as a tapestry of ethnic diversity united in spirit as those who have been bought by the salvation of Christ and adopted as one family into the Kingdom of God. The term ‘nations’ in the Bible is most often equated not with borders and geo-political structures, but of ethnicities and people groups. God commissioned Abram to go and be a blessing to all nations (Gen.12). He commissioned Israel to be a light into the world that all nations would be blessed by the knowledge of the one true God (Isa.40-50). Jesus came first to the lost sheep of Israel, yet also to the nations (Luke 3:6). Jesus would commission His disciples to proclaim the kingdom to all nations (Matt.28:19-20). And all nations will gather around the throne of God to His glorious praise forever. If a person does not see the beauty of a Savior that died for people from all nations, they will not enjoy heaven; and lest one repents, may not be fit for it because racism of any kind is sin. It grieves the heart of God
“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth– to every nation, tribe, language and people… Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” – Revelation 14:6, 15:4
For further study:
Cincinnati Enquirer, p. A3, February 20, 1997.