“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” Acts 17:24-26 NIV
Our country’s battle on improving race relations has been a continuing struggle for centuries. Even to this day racial inequality and injustice are still major issues amid the most recent reoccurrences of police brutality against people of color. Progress has been made and hope of continuing is promising.
The root cause of racial inequality and its injustices is racism. Working at rooting out racism in all its forms and from every strata of society has been a tactical and tedious process almost akin to fighting and surviving the current coronavirus pandemic. One major difference: Coronavirus is colorblind and doesn’t discriminate.
Inequality is the effect of racism due to racism’s core idea of superiority. Prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed at or against someone of a different color, ethnicity or nationality is based on the belief, however instilled, that one’s own race is superior. Thus, other races are viewed not as good, not as acceptable to be favored as members of one’s own race. This results in unfair, inequitable and, at times, inhumane treatment of those persons.
The vital starting point in understanding the ill of racism is espousing a biblical worldview of creation. That understanding provides a perspective on how to view humanity and the races, and what that means with regard to racism and treatment of others.
The Bible is clear regarding racism. It repudiates any opinionated idea of inequality among the races. The core idea of racial superiority isn’t supported in Scripture as how human relationship is to be expressed or experienced. The biblical ideal is equality of the races by creation. We are one community having the same value based on our origin from one breath and one blood — God’s breath and Adam’s blood.
The biblical creation account portrays this unity and equality of the human race in Adam. God determined to make humanity in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26, 27). He formed Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). God made Eve from a rib taken out of Adam (Genesis 2:21-23). From Adam and Eve humanity was birthed (Genesis 5:1-3). After the flood, humanity continued from Noah’s sons and spread out in the earth (Genesis 9:19; 10:1).
Since we are one community by creation, we should regard equality of the races. No one race, ethnicity or nationality is superior over another. Races are to be respected by humane, ethical and equal treatment because of humanity’s equal dignity and worth — created in the image of God.
In addressing an issue of how people were treating each other, the prophet asked, “Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God?” (Malachi 2:10). Scripture declares “the rich and poor have this in common — the Lord made them both” and “the poor and the oppressor have this in common — the Lord gives sight to the eyes of both” (Proverbs 22:2; 29:13 respectively).
The Bible gives a glimpse of the heavenly congregation composed of one diverse body, inclusive of every tribe, language, people and nation with a shared equality in the kingdom of God (Revelation 5:9, 10; 7:9, 10).
Since there is no superiority in heaven, such should be strived for here on Earth. The Lord’s Prayer puts it this way: “Our Father who is in heaven; hollowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9, 10).
Rev. Johnson A. Beaven III is pastor of Citadel of Faith Church of God in Christ. Contact him via email at email@example.com or Twitter @jbeaven.