Acts of Justice: Confront & Resist Racism
By Steve Manskar
The events in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 11 & 12, 2017 are a symptom of a sickness that has been part of this country from its founding. A quick review of history reveals that America was born with racism in its genes. It permeates the dominant culture. People bring that culture with them when they go to church.
The Baptismal Covenant calls Christians to the way of Jesus which is the way of self-giving love and life.
Christ calls his followers to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of their sin.
Christ calls his followers to accept the freedom and power God gives to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
And Christ calls his followers to confess him as Savior, put our whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as Lord, in union with the church which he has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races.
Those who claim the name “Christian” are called by their Lord to be his representatives in the world. Christ calls us to renounce, reject, and repent of the sin of racism in all its forms. Christ calls the baptized to serve as representatives of his love and justice for the world, even those who hate and reject us.
The General Rule of Discipleship reminds Christians, especially if you are in a Covenant Discipleship group, the baptismal covenant requires us to live as witnesses to Jesus Christ in the world and to follow his teachings through acts of justice. In the American context, especially if you are white and a member of a predominantly white congregation, an essential act of justice is to intentionally confront and resist racism.
The dictionary definition of racism is: “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race” (Miriam-Webster Dictionary). This is contrary to the Biblical teaching that all people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Jesus Christ commands his followers to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). Love does not see skin color. Love sees only the divine image in each human heart.
I pray that all who claim allegiance to Jesus Christ, and confess him as Lord, will renounce and reject the evil of racism with one voice. And live as agents of God's shalom for the world.
Resources for resisting racism in ourselves and in the world:
Ten Ways to Fight Hate (PDF)
An Open Letter to Jeff Sessions and all United Methodists
A White Response to Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson
38 Resources to Help Your Church Start Discussing Race Today
A Congregational Prayer for Churches After Charlottesville
Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God by Kelly Brown Douglas
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone
Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson