Tag Archives: racism

God’s Desire

Grace 101

“The Lord is . . . not willing that any should perish.”  2 Peter 3:9

How simple is that?  It is the will of the Lord that all people should enter into this amazing relationship He wants with us.  All people.  No one should perish.  There is little question, based on simple Scripture, that Jesus died to give the opportunity for salvation to all people.

That means there is no room for racism in the Christian faith.  Yes, I realize racism is part of Christian history, but we have not always acted in accordance with the will of our Lord. 

babiesbacksNow, I suffer from cultural angst as much as the next person.  That means I find myself uncomfortable outside my own culture.  To enter into a situation where I don’t understand the words and don’t really know what’s going on is naturally a little disconcerting.  That’s not racism.  Real racism goes far beyond that.  Racism is another form of depersonalization; which, of course, is a foundation of hate.

If there are people in my mind that I think of as less in the sight of God, or undesirable to Him, then I am wrong.  God loves every person of His creation.  All are in His heart.  Jesus died for each one.  Any walls I put up are mine alone.

But if I understand that God loves all people, then I have to understand that He calls to each one within that person’s culture.  No person has to become like me in order to be saved.  God loves each one where and as they are.  Dominant cultures tend to think of themselves as some kind of ideal or model for others.  The truth is that the variety of culture is as much a testament to the creativity of God as the variety we see among people.   That doesn’t mean everything in every culture is good.  It simply means that one culture does not have a corner on the heart of God.

Of course, culture isn’t the only thing that makes people different.  Nor is skin color.  Body size and shape, gender, hair color, language, even choices we have made suggest differences.  God loves us all.  Many of the differences that we so foolishly allow to divide us are simply expressions of the amazing creativity of God.

Oh, yeah, I mentioned choices.  Does God love the sinner, the person who has not yet come to Him for salvation?  Of course!  Does He make a distinction between sins, so that those who do this sin are acceptable, but those who do that one are not?  Of course not!  Jesus came to wash away sin, no matter what that sin is.  So even the divisions between us that we consider to be the result of past or continuing sinful choices are lost in the love of God.  He loves us all!

Now there are some people teaching that God gets whatever He wants and, if He wants everyone to be saved then, all are or will be saved.  That certainly is not what the Bible teaches.  Yet, if He does love every person, why are not all going to be saved?  It isn’t as simple as saying that all kinds of people will be in Heaven.  The question is why every individual is not going to be saved.

What would keep God from saving every person He loves?

His love!

I’ll explain tomorrow.

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Why I Celebrate Christmas – 6

… and not Kwanzaa.

In 1967, a man named M. Ron Karenga, created a day for African Americans to celebrate instead of Christmas.  Although born and raised as an American, he became a Marxist and humanist who was active in civil disobedience.  Karenga, who carries a felony conviction from his time with the Black Power movement, has been a professor of African Studies at a university in California.  He is the author of several books and is highly regarded among African Americans who feel the need to build pride in their national heritage.

All of this is fine, of course.  Not only does Karenga have the right to his beliefs, but he clearly has touched a need in the hearts of people like him.   We can certainly understand the need for a people taken from their homeland and heritage by force and for the sake of slavery to desire ways to reconnect with and establish an identity.

But in 1966, Karenga (whose birth name was Ronald McKinley Everett) began to promote a holiday just for African Americans.  His goal was to, “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.”  (his words)  He believed, according to Wikipedia, “that Jesus was psychotic, and that Christianity was a white religion that black people should shun.”

Kwanzaa was designed to be an anti-Christmas.  Read the Wiki article linked above for yourself.  The information is freely available.

My background does not allow me to identify with the needs of people who think this way.  But I can say without hesitation that Christianity is not a white religion.  Jesus was not born in America or Europe.  He was not born to a traditional white family.  He did not come for white people.  Jesus came because God loved all people and wanted to give them a way to come to Him.

I believe that racism is sin.  I grieve for those who have suffered because of racism and bigotry.  I repent of and renounce any racism left in me.  I honestly believe that God loves all people and that the way of salvation through Jesus is available to anyone.

But Kwanzaa is not my day.  It does not reflect my heritage, nor does it reflect my faith.  If, in fact, it is an anti-Christmas, then I want nothing to do with it.  I celebrate Christmas because God showed His love for all of us by sending His Son.

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Gracism book

I recently finished David Anderson’s book on inclusion called, “Gracism.” He introduces a new term which, he believes, will help people understand a biblical perspective on the race concerns of our culture. In many ways, Anderson’s book is a practical and honest consideration of Christian love.

Anderson has an agenda, of course, and uses grace to communicate his concerns. His idea of grace is that believers have been given something we neither deserved nor earned and we ought to give in the same way. He encourages us to reach out to those who are not included in our normal circles of affluence or influence, to deliberately cross any boundaries that have kept some people separate and disadvantaged. This reflects, in his mind, the grace of Christ.

While I wholeheartedly agree with the general thrust of the book, I found it to be too narrow in focus and too preachy for my enjoyment. I believe that grace teaches us that there are no barriers of race, gender, or life situation. I believe that the love of Christ is equally given to anyone. I believe that Christians ought to be the most inclusive and least bigoted people on the planet. A great deal of evil has been perpetuated in the church because of the narrow and unkind prejudices of believers.

Yet, I think Anderson steps into something less than grace when he suggests that we should actively seek out people who fit our definition of disadvantaged. It is a racial issue, for him. He admits that racial prejudices exist in all ethnic groups, but the message is clearly one of socialistic equalizing rather than simple love. Jesus welcomed all people and His welcome to the lesser esteemed people was noticed, but He was just as open to a Pharisee as to a prostitute. He found very few open hearts among the Pharisees or other advantaged people but His grace was equally available to them.

One interesting example near the beginning of the book is used to illustrate a “gracist” attitude. A woman standing in line at the airport sees a family from another culture trying to get into the line. She assumes that they do not understand the concept of lines because they are from a culture other than hers. They have children and are tired. The line has been established for some time and people have been very protective of their positions. So the woman allows the family to go ahead of her and she is lauded, in the book, as an example of selfless grace.

We might ask whether the people behind the woman were as blessed as she was by her action. We may ask how she knew that this family didn’t understand that they should get in line like everyone else. We may also wonder why this woman didn’t simply give her place in line to these strangers and go to the back herself, since that would have come closer to blessing both the family and the people behind her. But, instead, she decided that all the advantaged people in the line should be gracists.

I was hoping for something more than what this book offered when I considered the title. Racism, in any form, is abhorrent to the mind of Christ – but not because some can’t get into the special clubs at the airport. Racism is abhorrent because it allows a person to consider himself better than another when, in truth, all that we have is what we have received. I am not better than anyone else, no matter whether I have more things or opportunities. If Jesus leads me to share with others, I should; but I will not fix the problem of racism by sharing. I will simply communicate love.

All that I have and all that I am have come from the Lord who loves me – who gives to me in spite of what I have deserved. I should remember that when I consider others.

That’s grace!

Dave@gracefortheheart.org

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