On Racial Differences

I have been privileged to have spent many years of my life living in various countries and cultures unlike the one in which I was raised. This has provided me with a fascinating education. The people I have met have been very different from me. Some things you notice right away, like skin color, religion, and cultural habits. Others differences emerge as you get to know them and discover how they think and what they value.

At the same time, the people that I have met have been just like me. They love their families. They want the best for their children. They are struggling to make ends meet financially. They want to live in peace and security. They want to understand and make a difference in the world. I have discovered that I have more in common with most people than I have differences. Humans, wherever they are found, are remarkably similar to one another. Perhaps it is because we are all made in the image of God.

I pastor a church with people from all around the world. Sunday mornings are a foretaste of heaven: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9) I love the diversity of God’s world that gathers together to worship him.

Sadly, in our world today, the differences between people seem more significant than the similarities. Here in Europe, in North America and parts of Asia, there are verbal attacks as well as physical violence against people who are ‘different’ or are ‘not from here.’ As followers of Jesus, we must reject this spirit of the age and speak out against it. Since the Day of Pentecost, we have been called to racial reconciliation and integration. This is a spiritual issue, a matter of the heart.

Jesus has modeled for us how we are to love others. As his followers, we cannot be indifferent to racial and cultural prejudice. It is contrary to our calling and ethic. We must speak out against those who would use language or violence to denigrate the humanity of others. Beyond that, we need to model racial reconciliation and integration in our own lives. Overcoming and understanding some of our differences can be challenging, but that can never be an excuse for treating others poorly. The greatest command is to love God. The second is this: “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31)