I have a confession to make. I’m not a racist

I, along with the founding fathers of the United States, hold this truth to be self-evident, that “all people are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

I don’t think that people should be judged by the colour of their skin, or their ethnic background (unlike Charles Darwin who argued in The Descent of Man that the Western nations which contain "the civilised races of man" will "almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races").

I side with Martin Luther King Jr who had a dream that that his children would live in a nation where they would be judged not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Sadly, there are those who believe, that no matter what I say, think or do, I must be racist.

Why? Because I’m white! Even if I don’t use what they consider to be racist words, or engage in racist behaviour, they will argue that because I belong to a systemically racist society, and have ‘white’ privilege, I must be a racist.

The irony which they seem to miss, is that they are judging me by the colour of my skin. And what is that, if not racism?

The politicisation of society on this issue is concerning. But what is worse is to see the politicisation of the Church, which is in danger of simply mimicking society. I know the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church – but let’s not make their task any easier. Can I suggest ten principles that we as Christians could follow instead? 

1. We should not accept the empty philosophies of this world

I have watched in astonishment as Christian leaders have joined in with the Premier League, the big corporations and the media in uncritically endorsing the Black Lives Matter organisation. Just because I believe black lives matter, does not mean that I have to support the BLM organisation. They are a pseudo-Marxist organisation who want to uphold Queer theory, destroy the family, get rid of capitalism and remove the police. Most astonishingly they fully support abortion. It seems some black lives do not matter...

I have also watched in astonishment as a few Christian leaders seem to be endorsing and reflecting white supremacist teaching. This too must be condemned. We have a much better philosophy – the philosophy of Christ.

2. We should not be simplistic – exchanging meme for meme

Black lives matter is a truism. Answering it with another truism, (all lives matter) is not helpful. Both statements are true. But life is much more complex. The Church must have a more intelligent, rational and compassionate approach.  Shouting slogans never cured anything.

3. Listen to what God says in his word

Be biblical. You cannot be a follower of Jesus Christ and endorse racism. The Church needs to take this seriously.

I once asked a man to resign as a member of the church because of his racist views. We need to ask questions as to how biblical it is to have black churches or white churches or Chinese churches etc. It borders on heresy to divide the church according to race, class, age or social status.  We are ‘all one in Christ’’ – are we not? 

4. We should not boast about our own right-on-ness

Can we avoid posting about how our own political activities (taking the knee, attending a protest, etc) is a demonstration of the radical grace and compassion of God? It implies that those who are not agreed with such methods when it comes to eradicating racism are as radical or gracious.

Please let's not judge people by their politics. Just because a Christian brother or sister has a different political perspective on these issues, does not mean they are evil or dumb.

5. We should avoid hypocrisy

I once went to a pub with a few people who had just been on a ‘diversity training and race awareness day’. Impeccably politically correct in public, in private they were one of the most racist groups I had ever been with. Let’s make sure our life matches our words.     

6. Let’s listen to people – from many different backgrounds

Life isn’t as simple as the media, political, and sometimes the religious narratives tell us. Don’t rush to push people into categories which may not be the whole truth. Treat every person as someone made in the image of God. Our identity is in Christ, not in the social construct of race.

7. We should not endorse or practice violence – either implicitly or explicitly

When we join the mob, we should be aware that at some point, it will turn on us. The revolution always eats itself.

It’s been sad to watch Christians justify their ‘side’ when they are engaged in violence (protest) and demand action against the other when their side do the same (riots); or vice versa. 

It’s also been sad to see how some Christians have accepted cancel culture. Just because we don’t agree with or like something, does not mean that it should be cancelled.

8. Seek justice today 

Slavery and injustice in the world are still prevalent. The easy thing is to demand repentance from dead people (or statues!) who can no longer repent. It’s not so easy to do something costly now.

9. Be realistic

The Black Lives Matter protests won’t change the human heart. I actually think that race relations in the UK and the US have been put back 20 years in the past 20 days. Those who believe that they are changing history for the better often end up making things worse. This is not to say we should do nothing – but we should have more realistic expectations of ourselves and realise that the problem is not simply solved by marching, shouting and banning.

10. Pray

Ultimately this is a spiritual battle. The dividing wall of partition (wherever it is) will only come down through the grace of Christ and the power of the Spirit. Why are we fighting with the weapons and tribes of the world, when we have the weapons of the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ – to take on the evils of racism?

Let us be Spirit filled, fruitful followers of Christ. That is our only hope.

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of the great street of the city.  On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nation.”  (Revelation 22:1-2)

David Robertson is the director of Third Space, a project of the City Bible Forum in Australia. He was previously minister of St Peters Free Church in Dundee, Scotland

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