On two occasions, Jim and I have preached message series at Preston Trail entitled “What do I tell my kids about …?” Each time we sought to give biblical answers to questions kids were asking their parents. A decade ago we dealt with subjects like sex, drinking, divorce, and tattoos and piercings. Five years ago we addressed topics like partying, evolution, other religions, and sexual identity.
Today the question on the front burner for parents is: “Are people with white skin superior to people with darker skin?” This is the topic finding its way into mealtime and bedtime discussions because of recent events and public discussions in our country. I want to answer that question from a biblical, Christ-centered perspective.
But first, let me clarify what I’m not going to address:
- I am not going to write about Civil War monuments. (Having grown up in Richmond, Virginia, where statues of Confederate heroes are on every corner of Monument Avenue, I saw them several times a week. But that’s not my focus here.)
- I am not going to write about President Trump’s statements or speeches. (If you want to read a thoughtful article on when to support and when to speak against a president, read this article by Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College.)
- I am not going to write about race relations. (If you want to hear a great message on that topic, check out Jim Johnson’s sermon on “Ferguson.”)
- I am going to write about one topic only: white supremacy. This is the belief that people with white skin are superior – intellectually, morally, professionally – to people with darker skin, and therefore should exercise a certain power over non-white persons.
First, tell them that God made all people.
The opening pages of the Bible are clear: God made everyone, and he made each one in his image and likeness.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
There is no reference in the Bible to one race being superior to another. Regardless of skin color, every human is a bearer of the divine image. There is no hint of racial supremacy found in the doctrine of creation.
Second, tell them that Jesus died for all people.
Jesus didn’t die merely for his own race, the Jews. He died for all people, without exception.
“For God so love the world that he gave his only Son.” (John 3:16)
There is not the slightest suggestion in the New Testament that Christ regarded one race as superior to another, or that he sacrificed his life for one race over another. He was pleased to die for all people everywhere. Skin color never entered his mind.
Third, tell them that grace is available to all people.
Although Jesus’ first followers initially thought God intended his grace only for Jews like themselves, soon they discovered a big surprise: God viewed non-Jews the same way he viewed Jews – through the eyes of love.
It took a vision from heaven to convince Simon Peter to enter the home of a non-Jew and tell him about Jesus. But when Peter finally got it into his head that God saw both races as equal in His sight, he went into the home of a non-Jew named Cornelius and confessed:
“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” (Acts 10:34-35)
Paul, the once arrogant Jew who was intent on wiping out Jesus-followers, eventually had his mind changed too. Here’s the proof:
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28)
God’s grace is offered to all, irrespective of skin color. Grace is His gift, freely given to everyone.
Finally, tell them that we are to love all people.
Jesus commanded his followers to love others so many times that it’s commonplace to call his message “an ethic of love.” He said:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
Jesus, who was an ardent student of the Jewish Scriptures (our Old Testament), surely had these words in mind when he gave his love-commandments:
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs” (Proverbs 10:12)
There is no teaching in God’s Word that lets us off the hook: we are called and commanded to love all and to hate none. Skin color is not, nor has it ever been, a limiting factor.
Bottom line: the belief in the supremacy of any race over another finds no sanction in Scripture. The primary teachings in the Bible are uniformly clear and consistent:
- God made all people.
- Jesus died for all people.
- Grace is available to all people.
- We are to love all people.
Last week Jim kicked off our new message series entitled “The Struggle Bus” by speaking on “the hot seat of integrity.” As he spoke, I heard God whisper to me: “Get on that hot seat, Paul. Have integrity and say what you believe. I will be with you.”
I heard and I obeyed. Now my prayer is that God will use these words to help you teach your kids and grandkids and neighbor-kids the profound but simple truth of Jesus: love one another.