Racism is a teach­ing straight from the pit of hell. It says, in short, that human beings can be dehu­man­ized sole­ly because of their race. 

In my child­hood years there was a say­ing cir­cu­lat­ing around in the cul­ture declar­ing, If you’re white, you’re all right; if you’re brown, you can stick around; if you’re black, stand back; if you’re red, you’re bet­ter dead.” Right here in my child­hood world was racism pure and simple.

I write about these mat­ters today because of the racism that has reared its ugly head recent­ly in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia in the form of one of the largest white suprema­cist events in recent his­to­ry. It began with the August 11 Fri­day night march through the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia com­plete with flam­ing torch­es and Nazi Swasti­ka flags; chants of Blood and soil” (a direct trans­la­tion of the Nazi slo­gan blut und boden,”) and Jews will not replace us!” One demon­stra­tor took a ham­mer smash­ing a Star of David. The mes­sage of this Fri­day night march was not sub­tle. It was bla­tant anti-Semi­tism; per­haps the most hor­rif­ic form of racism today. 

On Sat­ur­day was the Unite the Right” ral­ly that was osten­si­bly about pro­tect­ing a stat­ue of Robert E. Lee and which quick­ly turned into an angry asser­tion of white suprema­cy. Move­ments like the Ku Klux Klan and White Nation­al­ists that have been large­ly con­signed to our country’s polit­i­cal fringe were open and promi­nent in a way that we have not seen for a very long time. At this event a neo-Nazi sym­pa­thiz­er delib­er­ate­ly drove his car into the crowd of counter-pro­test­ers trag­i­cal­ly killing 32-year-old Heather Hey­er and injur­ing nine­teen oth­ers. Also, trag­i­cal­ly, two Vir­ginia State Police offi­cers died in the line of duty when their heli­copter crashed. 

Seem­ing­ly, the polit­i­cal fer­ment of our times has embold­ened these racist orga­ni­za­tions. Even more sad­den­ing, these hate groups have exposed an under­bel­ly of racism that lies just beneath the sur­face of con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can culture. 

Let’s be unmis­tak­ably clear: the gospel of Jesus Christ is dia­met­ri­cal­ly opposed to all expres­sions of racism and big­otry and hatred. We who name Christ as our Sav­ior, Teacher, Lord and Friend are called to anoth­er way, the way of right­eous­ness and peace and joy in the Holy Spir­it” (Rom 14:17). We con­fess with the great Apos­tle Paul, There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).

God is in the work of bring­ing togeth­er an all-inclu­sive com­mu­ni­ty of lov­ing per­sons from among all the peo­ples of the world. Jesus is at the heart of this all-inclu­sive com­mu­ni­ty of lov­ing per­sons as its prime sus­tain­er and most glo­ri­ous inhab­i­tant. We — you and I — are called into this all-inclu­sive com­mu­ni­ty of lov­ing per­sons and are invit­ed to work with God for its exten­sion across the face of the earth. 

* * *

It was not until lat­er in life that I learned that my pater­nal grand­moth­er, whom I had not known for she died before I was born, was Native Amer­i­can — Ojib­wa; also called Chippe­wa, self-named Anishi­naabe. My par­ents nev­er told me about this detail, per­haps out of embar­rass­ment. Or maybe out of fear, for they too knew of the cul­tur­al racist sen­ti­ment, “ …if you’re red, you’re bet­ter dead.” 

But, I want to place over against this ugly, racist expres­sion anoth­er say­ing from my child­hood. It’s a children’s song actu­al­ly, but a children’s song with Divine Pow­er to over­come the evil and the anger and the hate that swirled around the cul­ture of my child­hood. It bold­ly declares that Jesus Christ loves all the chil­dren of the world, Red and yel­low, black and white, they are pre­cious in His sight — Jesus loves the lit­tle chil­dren of the world.” This goes for adults too. 

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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