God’s Grace in Reconciliation: The Evil of Racism

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As we looked at in my first post, God’s grace in reconciliation brings about a new identity for believers. Because of this new identity in Christ all the sinful divisions that formerly separated people from one another are done away with. This does not mean that ethnicity and race are done away with, instead our being “in Christ” is out primary identity and ought to regulate all other aspects of our humanity. In this post I want us to look more specifically at why racism is evil and contrary to God’s grace in reconciliation.

We’re looking at Paul’s words in Colossians 3:11. He is not writing just to fill up the space or for exercise in rhetoric, this was a real issue among the people of Colossae. We can infer that the audience Paul addresses, those now “in Christ,” were somehow divided racially, culturally and socially. Greeks were aggressively proud of their heritage and looked down upon the Jewish people; circumcision divided the Jews and non-Jews. Barbarian and Scythian were seen as the uncivilised, lower-class Gentiles. One commentator notes that the terms Barbarian and Scythian likely referred to…peoples which in that day were largely devoid of Greek and Roman culture.”

So Paul was addressing a real issue that probably continued in some form in the church. People were still thinking along racial, cultural and social terms and distinctions.

What about Today?

Isn’t this true in some of our churches? We need to be careful that we don’t just speak of a multicultural community that is in reality mono-cultural. From the outside it looks like unity in diversity but it is in actual fact unity in assimilation; meaning that the basis of one’s acceptance into this community is how closely one has assimilated into a certain culture.

I have heard black brothers and sisters in Christ speak about how they are made to feel out of place because they don’t have a twang or they have not been to certain schools or do not work certain jobs. Because of their strong accents, they are undermined and feel insecure, unwanted and unwelcome. If we are really concerned about the multi-cultural vision of Christ for the church, we must seek to reach out to people without making them feel like they have to change their accents or fake twangs in order to be part of this community. We have to always remind of ourselves that we are united by Christ and that all other distinctions must fall under his Lordship.

If we are really concerned about the multi-cultural vision of Christ for the church, we must seek to reach out to people without making them feel like they have to change their accents or fake twangs in order to be part of this community.

That is what the apostle Paul does, he uses Colossians 3 to expose the evil of racism. In particular I think there are two main lessons we can take away from this passage.

First, racism is a false testimony against the image of God in humanity. Racism, which is discrimination along ethnic lines, testifies that there are gradations in the image of God. In simple terms: it says that when God created humanity in its diversity he was actually making one ethnicity superior over the other. We must note that this “distinction” lies purely on the shade of skin colour. Such a theologically misunderstanding has resulted in years of slavery in the West, concentration camps that brought about the brutal murder of millions of Jews in Germany, the horrors of Apartheid in South Africa, and the Sunday morning being the most segregated hour for the Christian church.

As Christians, we must affirm the dignity of every person as made in the image of God. There is no such thing as a special or privileged race or ethnicity. The Bible says everyone is created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26-27 read, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Paul refers to this passage in Genesis and adds this commentary: “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (Acts 17:26). In reading these passages there is one truth is unequivocally certain: every human being has both dignity and equality because they are the Imago Dei, made in the image of God.

Theologian Daniel Hays says, “to presuppose that one’s own race or ethnicity is superior to someone else’s is a denial of the fact that all people are created in the image of God.”

As Christians, we must affirm the dignity of every person as made in the image of God.

Secondly, not only is racism a false testimony against the image of God in humanity, but racism is also a an attack on the gospel itself.

In Galatians 2:11-14, Paul mentions an occasion where he had to confront Peter for his bias against toward the Gentiles. He was eating with the Gentile Christians when a group of individuals called the “circumcision party” came in. Peter withdrew himself from the Gentiles. And his actions misled both the Jews and Barnabas .

When Paul saw this he immediately confronts and opposes Peter’s actions. He sees it as not a matter of Peter preferring people of his kind, people that he was more comfortable with, but he sees it as “…conduct [that is out of] step with the gospel” (Gal. 2:14). Paul sees this as a deviation from the gospel.

Why is this deviation from the gospel? Peter’s actions communicated that the Gentile Christians somehow lacked something that the Jewish Christians had. Whether intended or not, Peter’s actions communicated something contrary to what was true in the good news of Jesus: that there no superior race or ethnicity.

By implication, that is why it is folly to claim to be for the gospel whilst at the same time not pursuing racial reconciliation. Because of the gospel, we should be at the forefront of racial reconciliation, and to not do so is to undermine the very gospel we claim to believe. If the gospel has created new realities—”one new humanity” (see Ephesians 2:15)— and we are content to remain in the old realities, of how things were before the cross, then we are not living in step with the gospel. We are living contrary to it. Ultimately, our attitude toward the gospel will determine our attitude toward those who are different from us. To treat others as lesser beings only reveals that we have not begun to understand the gospel and its implications, it’s bearing on our lives.

Ultimately, our attitude toward the gospel will determine our attitude toward those who are different from us.

The gospel is the sword that slays the beast of racism. The gospel disarms racism and strips it of its power and influence because the gospel tells us that there is only one way to salvation for all. There is no black Jesus for the black community, or a white Jesus for the white community. Black, white and every other colour, race and ethnicity are equal at the foot of the cross. They are all in need of salvation and God has granted that all will be saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone. The same gospel that saves the oppressed is the same gospel that saves the oppressor.


  1. What signs does HaShem send unto damaged g’lut Israel? Observance of halakot, they serve as the Divine signs – comparable to the plagues which befell Par’o by the hand of HaShem through Moshe. From the times following the Creation, the heart of Man expresses strong inclinations to chisel away at righteous upright behavior; its tuma impatience prefers physical violence over rational diplomacy. Form which lacks substance, to what does it compare? Ritualized observance of halakot – divorced from prophetic mussar. The classic story of Egyptian bondage. Par’o only recognized the plagues and the damages; never once did he take to heart Divine mussar דרך ארץ. This יסודי distinction defines the k’vanna of the opening working blessings of the Shemone Esri:
    אתה חונן לאדם דעת, ומלמד לאנוש בינה: חננו מאתך דעה בינה והשכל: ברוך אתה ה’, חונן הדעת.

    Par’o refused to validate within his heart any prophetic mussar; his Yatzir rejected דרך ארץ as a life walk – also known as t’shuva. Young king Shlomo directly compares to juvenile king Rehav’am; both rejected the advise given by their fathers’ senior most trusted advisors. This common denominator likewise occurs in Par’o when his advisors informed him that Egypt lay in ruins.

    King Shlomo did not consult with Natan the prophet, he simply decided to build both his personal Court of law, together with his pyramid like Temple. King Shlomo’s court prioritized his personal rule, which subordinated unto oblivion the Torah commandment – to established Federal Sanhedrin courts. The last commandment that Moshe accomplished during his lifetime – he established 3 small Sanhedrin Federal courts from conquered land which enlarged the 1st Republic.

    King Shlomo, by contrast, prioritized grand construction projects, this forced labor, in conjunction with his disgraceful foreign wives, drained and estranged the good will of the people. Opposition to the rule of the house of David sprouted into open rebellion during his lifetime. Rehav’am, son of Shlomo, never governed as king before the ten Tribes rebelled against the promise of his oppressive rule. Avoda zara tends to gloat about its grand and glorious splendor, and its great and brilliant wisdom. The Book of מלכים, its satire mocks the conceit by which avoda zara behavior tends to strut. Comparable to the pompous goose march-step made by Fascist and Communist soldiers in the 20th Century.

    A specific, but general example which explains avoda zara – Xtianity. Church advocates, as a general rule, ardently pursue evangelism. The wicked criminal war crimes committed by church priests, ministers and lay personnel throughout history – pushed off with the excuse: “they were not real Xtians”. Ignorant of brutal war crimes and criminal terrorism, zealant Xtian evangelists resemble – the hardened heart of Par’o. Monotheists preach that only one God lives. Yet these pious ‘true faith’preachers, never once consider the first commandment revealed at Sinai. The tuma Yatzir: blind to the obvious, the opening line ofגיטין א:א:לפי שאין בקיאין לשמה teaches a powerful mussar, which alas, Reshonim scholarship failed to grasp.

    The Shoah and the Armenian Genocide: both, examples of “Genocide-in whole”. The Young Turks and Nazi Party, their leaders made unilateral decisions that committed their nation to perpetrate racial genocide. Civil Wars throughout history have witnessed a disproportionate proportion of domestic, racial ethnic genocides. But revolutionary politics does not in and of itself produce racial wars. Attila the Hun: 372-454, the Crusades:1095-1270, Genghis Khan & the Mongol invasions:1220-1650, atrocities in the Congo 1885 – 1908, the Namaqua genocide 1904 – 1908, the Amer-Indians of North America: 1565-1924 — these mass slaughters of human life did not necessarily occur due to political revolutions or Civil Wars.

    The criminal element in all cases of racial war, viewed from the specific lenses of church guilt, these violent lunatics Universally assume that their target victims exist as inferior sub-humans. Something on par and similar to the command of General Sheridan which permitted poachers to illegally invade Indian territories, to exterminate the Indians buffalo food source. Comanche Chief Tosawi reputedly told Sheridan in 1869, “Tosawi, good Indian,” to which Sheridan reportedly replied, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” This crude and barbaric response succinctly sums up the motivations of extreme racial prejudice; the basis for the Catholic prayer about the perfidious Jew.

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