What should the reaction of Christians be in this time of social upheaval, amidst an increase in racial prejudice?
According to statistics from the FBI (2016), the number of extremist groups has nearly quadrupled in the last 20 years, and in the last few years alone, they have more than doubled, but in this past year alone, extremist groups and their numbers have skyrocketed as never before, so what’s going on with our nation? Why are all these radical left and far-right extremist groups suddenly coming into the public eye and clashing with one another? I believe these groups have been there all along, simmering under the surface, so when the nation began to see monuments being taken down, they saw something they could rally around, and suddenly, the emerged in great numbers, and in some cases, their numbers swelled with people coming in from all over the nation. Charlottesville, Virginia is a prime example. When the Charlottesville city council decided to remove the statue of Confederate general Stonewall Jackson, preceded by the earlier removal of a Robert E. Lee monument, things started to boil over. Several had to be removed by police during the city council’s meeting, so with they planned removal of these monuments, great numbers of white supremacists and far-left radicals join the protest, but these people were not all from Virginia. These extremist groups had infiltrated the city from other parts of the country. Suddenly there was a national spotlight on these extremist groups and that brought a backlash of Antifas or “anti-fascists” groups which are opposed to fascist ideologies, groups, and individuals (like the KKK and white supremacy groups). It is basically these two groups who fought. There were such huge numbers of protesters who came heavily armed with weapons, that the police didn’t interfere. They let them fight it out.
Breaking the Cycle
Racial prejudice has been around for thousands of years. Those who sought to exterminate the Jews is one example, but today it seems that racial hatred and bigotry are on the rise, and with it, there is also a rise in antisemitism, but this hatred is not always from the far-left fringe of society. Children can be unknowingly indoctrinated by their parents, and so this bias is passed on to the next generation, so much of this is generational or inbred in their thinking, so instead of a peaceful demonstration in Charlottesville, protesters took to the streets and opposing groups clashed, and it wasn’t about free speech anymore but who had the most weapons. And with that event in Charlottesville, it got the nation’s attention and similar protests erupted around the country, and in some cases, violence resulted, so what was originally designed to be a legal march to protest the taking down of Southern monuments, which by the way are protected under the right to free speech and freedom of assembly, suddenly boiled over into a violent clash between extremists on both sides. In this case, it’s not a matter of who is right or who is wrong…racial prejudice is always wrong, and violence is not the answer. Parents and grandparents have an obligation to break the cycle and teach that God does not discriminate based on a person’s skin color and neither should we.
Love like Jesus
In my view, there are no races. There is only one race and that’s the human race. God doesn’t discriminate against a person’s skin color. That’s because God always looks at the heart and not the outward appearance (1st Sam 16:7). All of us originated in Adam and Eve, and so we all bleed red, and we are all equal in God’s sight, although He does regard those who have trusted in His Son, Jesus Christ. The Apostle John reminds us that “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness” (1st John 2:9), and again, “whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1st John 2:11). How will people tell us apart from the rest of the world? Jesus says, “you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35), and that leaves no room for any type of prejudice.
Pray for Them
The Apostle Paul was once Saul (means “destroyer”), and an enemy of the church, but that should tell us that God can save anyone! Since we are told to “pray for those which spitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt 5:44), we know it is Jesus’ will that we pray for those who are presently our enemies or enemies of the cross. Few other world religions would teach or believe that we should pray for an enemy, but that’s the radical love of God. Dying for those who were once His enemies (Rom 5:10). Pray that God would soften their hearts and that they would seek repentance and then Christ.
The Bible teaches that a soft answer turns away wrath (Prov 15:1), but it also teaches us that we should not get into debates because these are unfruitful and can ruin the hearing (1st Tim 6:4), so we shouldn’t be in the business of debating people, but telling them God’s view about human beings. How does God see human beings? The Bible teaches that there is neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free (Gal 3:28) for those in Christ, but we should neither regard one color over another or rich over poor. I believe that means, there is neither “black or white or brown or yellow,” or whatever color you choose. True friendship is colorblind. When reviled about your skin color, don’t respond in kind…respond with love.
This nation may be in trouble if the violence continues to escalate like it has. I remember being in Junior High (or Middle School now) when the riots in Wichita, KS in 1968, and there are some very similar circumstances to the late 1960s and the day in which we live today, so are we headed for another race riot? Are extremist groups going to continue to increase as the time of Christ’s return draws near? Quite possibly yes, as Jesus warned of one of the signs of His return would be like in the days of Noah, and what were those days like? They had heard about God’s coming judgment (the Flood) from Noah, but the people ignored him, and so “they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:38-39). Let’s go back to Noah’s day to see more precisely what the world was like. It says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Gen 6:6-7). And how widespread was the violence? It says, “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Gen 6:11-12). Does this sound familiar? Pray for revival. Pray for those who are prejudiced, and then give them what they don’t deserve…your love and your prayers. That’s the only way they’ll know we are Jesus’ disciples (John 13:34-35).