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I Apologize On Behalf Of My Christian Brothers and Sisters

IN THE October 13 ISSUE

FROM THE 2012 Articles,
andChristopher Lewis,
andMinistry Musings
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by Rev. Christopher Lewis,
Nothing is Impossible Ministries

nothing is impossible

There is a certain brand of “Christianity” I have seen which makes me very, very sad. It’s a mind-set held by some within certain church circles that is about as contrary to the mind-set of Christ as one can come. It’s a mentality that basically says, without going so far as to use these words, “Jesus loves everyone, but he loves me most.” Another way of referring to it is to call it what it is: sheer racism.

I saw a comment once from one American church-person saying that we need to get the blueprints for the Berlin Wall and build our own along the Mexican-American border. For him, this idea wasn’t simply born of a desire for better security at the borders but of the thought that all Mexican people should be banned from “his” country. Another church-person, in the same conversation, blamed all of America’s problems on “foreigners” and indicated that the “Christian” cause would best be served by kicking “them” out so that America can return to its “Christian roots.”

I can’t be too blunt in saying that–if we define Christian to mean “like Christ”–these people are not Christian in any way, shape or form when they maintain such attitudes. Now, as “Christian” is usually defined as someone who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it is true that those who utter racist comments in the name of “Christ” might be “Christians” in this sense, but there is no way that this viewpoint reflects Christ, gives Him glory, or honors that relationship in any way.

A similar breed of racist religion existed in Jesus’ day. Jews tended to look down on Gentiles as somewhat inferior and, of course, Gentiles were anyone who were not Jews. But Paul made it clear several times in the New Testament that, in Christ, there is no distinction between Jews or Gentiles. He even said this:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”–Galatians 3:28

In the world of the Jews during Jesus’ time, there was one group in particular that many of the Jewish religious people looked down on. They were called the Samaritans. Many of the Jews hated what they considered to be their false views on religion and they saw them as people who were of no real use to society. They looked down on them and refused to associate with them. As long as they stayed on “their side” of the border, there was no problem, but they did not want them in their midst.

That’s why Jesus told his story about a “good Samaritan,” because his audience found it hard to believe there could be any such thing. In his story about the man who was robbed and left at the side of the road, it was the good “religious” people who ignored him, and it was the member of his people’s hated race who rescued him. The story was specifically and unashamedly a statement against racist religiosity.

Alas, many who hold to a harsher form of Christianity appeal more to the Old Testament and feel they can justify their mind-set from there. They are wrong, however, as even the Old Testament Law was very clear about God’s attitude towards people of other races. Here’s what God said to the Israelites:

“The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.”–Leviticus 19:34

That’s why I apologize right now on behalf of so many of my Christian brothers and sisters who have placed their patriotism above their faith and treated so many as second-class citizens. They may be true to God in many things, but they do NOT represent Him in their attitudes toward those of various races or backgrounds.

Following Christ is about loving God, and it’s also all about loving the people He loves. And He loves EVERYONE equally. NOBODY is better or closer to God just because they speak English or have a certain color of skin. In God’s sight, we are all equal and unless we can learn to love one another–loving “the alien in our midst” as much as the “native-born”–we cannot begin to claim we are following the ways of Christ.

If you have been hurt by church people who have treated you as somehow inferior because you are of a different race, I know that I cannot make up for the wrong they’ve done you. Yet, I do apologize on behalf of the segments of the Church who are guilty of this sin as best I can and want you to know that I KNOW that race is IRRELEVANT in God’s eyes and must be equally irrelevant in the lives of any true Christ-follower.

On the other hand, if you are a Christian who has held this racist mindset, perhaps because of the influence of your background or teachings you received in your youth, I understand how you got there. You were influenced by others and, in a way, I don’t blame you. We are all products of our environments in many ways. However, I do call your attention to the Word of God and strongly urge you to repent.

We are ALL sinful people in need of forgiveness and grace. God has given us that forgiveness and grace and, just as He has done so for us, He has called us to do for one another. That love for one another is not intended to be only for those who are “like us.” It’s equally intended for those who are different from us. After all, in reality we are all the same. We are sinners in need of grace and, until we accept those who are different from us as equals in our midst, we can never honestly claim to be channels of that grace.

Christopher Lewis is an ongoing contributor to our Helping Hands section, and recently moved with his wife Karen to Leeds, England to pastor a church there.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Lee JuslinNo Gravatar October 13, 2012 at 2:08pm

Excellent, thoughtful article but I would take issue when the writer talks about racist “Christians” putting their patriotism above their faith. Being racist or considering others as second class citizens is not American either.

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