Maybe You Need To Stop Calling Yourself A Christian In 2015

Racism.

Now there’s a word that gets thrown around a lot. Too much. The white kid who cheers for Duke is a racist. The black guy with a strong opinion about politics is a racist. Racist. Racist. Racist. As one famous radio caller once said, “It’s all about the racial.”

As a result, we’ve become jaded. We roll our eyes at such outrageous accusations. And, perhaps out of habit, we roll our eyes when legitimate racism pops up. We tell ourselves that it’s not 1965 anymore. We have a black president. Racism is a thing of the past.

Sadly, it’s not.

If you don’t believe me, look no further than the one place on this planet where there shouldn’t even be a hint of racism.

The church.

I know where you’re expecting me to go with this. Sunday mornings are the most segregated time of the week, right? Maybe so but that’s not my point.

A while back someone was telling me about life in their racially-blended family growing up in a heavily populated, diverse suburban area. While racism certainly existed, it wasn’t all out in the middle of the streets. Biracial couples and families were able to navigate their way through life without awkward stares and cruel remarks. For the most part, white kids and black kids got along at school. From this person’s perspective, racism wasn’t even really on the radar, even after a move to a much larger city.

It wasn’t until adulthood that my friend encountered actual racism. It was at church. A Bible-believing church. One where the people loved Jesus and each other. There were men who knew an awful lot about the Bible but who also didn’t think twice about telling nigger jokes. There were women who seemed to model their lives after all of the bad people in that movie, The Help. But boy did the folks in that church ever love Jesus! And each other. But not others. You know, the ones on the other side of the track.

This is no indictment on the church. Jesus came to save sinners so that’s what we should expect to be filling the pews of our churches. But Jesus did not come to affirm sinners. His saving involves repentance from sin, not ignoring it or letting it slide. Immanuel, God with us, was not sent to laugh at your racist jokes or to reinforce your stereotypes. He came because of your racist jokes. Which begs the question. If you’re still hanging on to your silly jokes and stereotypes, no matter how much you go to church, do you really know Immanuel, God with us?

My guess is no.

Don’t get mad at me. Take it up with the Holy Spirit who spoke through the Apostle John.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 (ESV)

If you are a Christian and you struggle with loving people from another race, you need to take that to Jesus. That’s part of the point of him being Immanuel, God with us. He didn’t leave you alone when he ascended back to the Father. He is with you to help you to become more like him. He is with you to help you to put away hate and to love like he loves.

But if you harbor hatred toward another race without any struggle or without leaning on Jesus to forgive you and to help you love more like him, please do yourself a favor. Stop calling yourself a Christian.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8 (ESV)

We don’t all have to agree. We don’t have to come to the same conclusions on music, the crime rate among black youth or who the next president should be.

But if we claim to be Christians, we better be loving others.

We do not love others so that God will love us and save us from our sins.

Rather, we love others because God has first loved us and set us free from our sins. From God’s holy and just perspective, we were the others. We were on the wrong side of the track. All of us. All races. But God came to us anyway to forgive us, set us free and give us new life.

If you are not willing to show that same kind of mercy and grace to others, it’s because you have never known God’s mercy and grace.

It’s because you have never known God.

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