Be Imitators of God
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Be patient as God has been patient with you. Love your enemies because you were an enemy of God and He loved you. Be generous and give until it hurts because God was generous to us and gave his Son even though it hurt His heart to do so.
This is how the Gospel goes to work on our hearts. The Gospel reminds us of the love of God and the lengths to which God went to reconcile us back to Him. The Gospel informs how we view people and our possessions. The Gospel also profoundly impacts how we view racism.
The Book of Romans
The book of Romans is an amazing letter! It deals with a lot of issues but the main thrust is, how are sinful people reconciled to God? How do we become a part of God's family? Is it through our race, our religion or anything we do? The main argument of Romans is that our right standing with God is based on the righteousness He gives to us through Jesus. And this righteousness is available to all people.
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (Romans 5:21-25)
The book of Romans, however, also deals, in part, with racial tensions between Jews and Gentiles through a profound application of the Gospel. In chapter 15 the apostle Paul quotes the Old Testament to show that it has always been God’s heart to bring all people and all ethnicities together through Christ. It is within this context that Paul writes, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:7)
Love as you have been loved. Forgive as you have been forgiven. Be imitators of God, as dearly loved Children, and live a life of love. And, don’t forget; accept as you have been accepted.
The Gospel and Racism
Think of who God is and who we are. God is the creator and we are the created. God is perfect, we are imperfect, God is eternal, we are trapped in time; God is holy and we are unholy, God is infinite and we are finite creatures. We are very different from God. God is in an entirely distinct category than us yet he has accepted us through Christ. We didn’t earn this acceptance and we didn’t deserve it. His acceptance is totally a gift.
If God has so accepted us, as different as we are from him, if God bridged the greatest divide imaginable, the divide between him and humans, with love, then there must be no divide too big that Christians can’t cross in love. God, through Christ, accepted us despite our differences, so how dare we not accept others, in Christ, despite their differences. That is the point. This is how the Gospel always goes to work on our behaviour. We forgive because we have been forgiven. We accept others, despite their difference, because God has accepted us.
That is the Gospel. God’s acceptance is given to all through faith in Christ. Racism cannot survive in its presence.