Bible Verses to Help Us Navigate Conversations About Racism
This week has been terrible. Blatant racism. Protests turned violent. Political division taken to new heights. Looting. Destruction. Venomous words on social media. And yes…even apathy (also extremely ugly).
This post isn’t trying to solve – or even really address – issues of race in this country. This post is about equipping you – and me – to approach those necessary, hard, important conversations with a “Bible Lens.”
Make Truth Your Foundation
There are too many emotions and experiences tied up in the conversations around racism for us not to have our starting point be this truth…
"There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28, CSB
We are all one. All of us. God created each person. Each man. Each woman. Each skin color. Each one loved enough to be died for. Period.
Recognize the Root Cause of Racism
Do any of us really believe for a second that we are “color blind?” That we are not tainted by the same poison of sin that has caused division since Adam and Eve?
You are impacted by sin. I am impacted by sin. Police officers, peaceful protestors, rioters, pastors, newscasters, and apathetic couch potatoes are all impacted by sin.
"What then? Are we any better off? Not at all! For we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin, as it is written:
There is no one righteous, not even one.
There is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away;
all alike have become worthless.
There is no one who does what is good,
not even one."
Romans 3:9-12, CSB (emphasis mine)
I once heard someone say,
"The Good Lord gave you two ears and one mouth. Take the hint!"
I couldn’t agree more.
It is so tempting to formulate an opinion or response before fully listening. Before reading. Before thinking. Before pausing. Before listening to our brothers and sisters who are suffering. Before listening to the Holy Spirit.
This one is so important I couldn’t narrow it down to a single passage. So here you go…
"A fool does not delight in understanding, but only wants to show off his opinions.” Proverbs 18:2, CSB
"The one who gives an answer before he listens – this is foolishness and disgrace for him.” Proverbs 18:13, CSB
"My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness.” James 1:19-20, CSB
Watch Your Words
That biting comment you were thinking about retaliating with? Don’t say it.
That’s nasty comment you were about to type on a post you disagree with? Don’t hit Enter.
Words matter. A lot. (And they cause way more lasting wounds than sticks and stones.)
"If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, his religion is useless and he deceives himself.” James 1:26, CSB
"So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed among our members. It stains the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” James 3:5-6, CSB
Engage Even When It’s Hard
When we love, we engage. When we love, we listen. When we love, we talk. When we love, we disagree…and stay engaged. When we love, we give of our lives, not just our words.
"We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8, CSB (emphasis mine)
"If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself.” James 2:15-17, CSB
Watch Your Motives
We can’t change what we do until we understand why we do it. We can stop temporarily, but lasting change takes a healing of the heart.
As long as our primary motivation is our own pleasure, our own safety, our own sense of “justice,” racism will never be dealt with in a lasting way.
Change me, Lord God.
"What is the source of wars and fights among you? Don’t they come from your passions that wage war within you? You desire and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
James 4:1-4, CSB
Peace is hard. It’s costly. And as with motives, lasting peace always begins on the inside, and it begins with me.
"If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18, CSB (emphasis mine)
Love Your Brothers and Sisters
Not hating is not the same as loving. Apathy never leads to compassion. Apathy never leads to reconciliation. Apathy never leads to healing. Apathy never leads to love.
This passage is long…but it may very well be the most important words you read today.
"Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us[b]
in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent his Son as the world’s Savior. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.
God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this, love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister." 1 John 4:7-21, CSB
Get God’s Future Plans Firmly In Your Mind
This one needs zero explanation from me…
"After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
Salvation belongs to our God,
who is seated on the throne,
and to the Lamb!
All the angels stood around the throne, and along with the elders and the four living creatures they fell facedown before the throne and worshiped God, saying,
Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength
be to our God forever and ever. Amen."
Revelation 7:9-12, CSB (emphasis mine)
Pray (Then pray again.)
Do we really think we can heal ourselves?
"…pray constantly…” 1 Thessalonians 5:17, CSB
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