Editor's note:

Reflecting on recent events, Renovaré’s founder, Richard Foster, reminds us that “the gospel of Jesus Christ is diametrically opposed to all expressions of racism and bigotry and hatred”—and that we are called to work with God towards another, more excellent, way.

—Renovaré Team

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.