If you haven’t already read part one of this, please go and read it here first.
We have seen throughout the Bible that God’s intention for people was for there to be perfect relationship with Him, and perfect relationship with each other. People’s value and identity was to be found in who they are in Him, rather than in their race or cultural background. The Bible shows us that any racism either systemic or individual is a result of sin and people’s desire to be god for themselves which then warps the understanding of what human dignity and value is. It shows that God was continually at work to restore people back to Himself and that His Kingdom is characterised by justice and mercy. So what does this all mean? If that is what the Bible teaches us about race what should someone who says they are a Christian do in response to this?
1. Don’t put identity in race. God has given all who trust Him an identity in Him. Christians are now citizens of heaven. Race is not where we find our identity.
2. We are called to action. Just because we don’t put our identity in race, it doesn’t mean that we ignore how racial identity is being corrupted by sin today. As God’s kingdom advances Christians should be the light that proclaims the goodness of God in darkness, sin and brokenness. Isaiah 56:1-2 says, This is what the Lord says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. Blessed is the one who does this— the person who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it, and keeps their hands from doing any evil. (NIV) Because the Bible clearly shows humanity’s intrinsic worth and value Christians need to be speaking up where people are being oppressed. We should seek to ensure that human dignity is recognised amongst all races. It is easy for Christians to get caught up in the fear that speaking up or being active in seeking racial justice is being too political or too “social justice-y” and not Gospel focussed enough. Yes, ultimately God is concerned about the eternal state of people, and what happens in this existence is temporary, but I hope that in some way through tracing what the Bible says about race we can see how much the Gospel and good news of Jesus and the work He did on the cross and the effects of the resurrection address every facet of our lives, including race.
3. We should challenge white privilege, especially in the church — the Bible teaches that God’s heart is for all nations to know Him, and for all people of every race to be able to worship Him. We should ask the question of ourselves and our churches are we doing things this way because this is mandated by God or because we have started to associate God’s way with a white western way? A good way of answering this question is to ask someone of another cultural background if this is accessible for them. Sometimes we need to hear the wisdom of others and accept where just because we think something might be a good way of doing something, it doesn’t mean it’s the only way of doing something.
4. We should celebrate racial diversity in our unity and long for the day when Jesus returns and sin is eradicated entirely. And in the meantime we should heed the great commission in Matthew 28:1 — to go and make disciples of ALL nations. We should celebrate the fact that all people are welcomed into God’s kingdom and look forward to the day we all stand together united for the same purpose of bringing glory and honour to our God!
5. We should grieve the sin and injustice in the world. We should be grieved when the Bible is used to wrongly justify racism and challenge those misconceptions around what it is saying. We need to uphold the truth found in God’s Word. Romans 12:15 teaches Christians to ‘weep with those who weep’. We should grieve racial prejudice and injustice and come alongside those who are oppressed. In his book Weep with Me: How Lament Opens a Door for Racial Reconcilliation, Mark Vroego (2020, p. 123) writes this, “While we cannot repent of other’ sins, we must not ignore our own. Rather than bear others’ burdens, we blame them for having burdens. We would rather ignore evil that does not harm us than help those who are being harmed. We are selective with the sins we grieve over. We gloss over attitudes, assumptions and prejudices that grieve you. Far too often we have been unlike Jesus. He entered into others’ pain, yet we flee from it.”
And when we come to the question asked in the title: Whose Lives Matter? The simple answer that we see in the Bible is that all lives matter. God does not see people in terms of race and neither ultimately should we. And yet, the question Whose Lives Matter, holds with it the underlying assumption of the question do Black Lives Matter? Should a Christian affirm that statement (a question separate from that of should Christians affirm the movement of the same name). Here let us heed the wisdom found in Proverbs 15:23, “A word in season, how good it is!” (NIV).
We live in a season where not all lives are being marginalised or oppressed - only some are. We live a in a season where grief and heartache occurs as a result of injustice based on a person’s skin colour. This current season seems to indicate the necessity for solidarity with those who are oppressed, the necessity to allow the Gospel to speak a different narrative to the one which is still being pushed by corrupt sinful natures. It is indeed Biblically appropriate to say that because of the truth found in the Bible that all lives matter - Black Lives Matter.