A Biblical View on Race
God’s history in Genesis makes it understandable that all races and ethnicities are descendants of Adam and Eve1, and then Noah2 and as such are equally created in the image of God to glorify Him on the earth. Because of that reality, people from every race and ethnicity are ultimately extended family and are meant to live in peace and harmony with one another as such.3 It was only God’s gracious judgment of mankind’s sin at the Tower of Babel that led to the segregation of different people from Cain to Lamech, and then ultimately to the scattering of people groups all over the world.4 (For more on how God’s judgment at Babel was “gracious” see our position paper on Nationalism here).
Even in the midst of God’s gracious judgment to scatter and separate different people groups on the Earth, His sovereign plan to display the beauty of unity in diversity by His grace was set in motion. We see this in His immediate desire to choose a people for Himself, Israel, who would begin to reconcile the world to Himself and “welcome the foreigner among you.”5This issue can be confusing to us when we read in the Old Testament God commanding Israel at times not to inter-marry with other people groups or make peace with them as a nation. But the heart of those commands was about religious syncretism, not race or ethnicity since no other nation had a relationship with God like Israel did.6 In fact, Jesus’ lineage is replete with marriages between Jews and people who had converted to worship the One true God from different ethnicities and backgrounds in the Old Testament.7
However, because Judaism as a formal religion rejected her true Messiah and her calling to preach the Gospel to all the nations of the world, God has called His church, full of Gospel believing Jews and Gentiles, to that ministry together. As Jesus was intentional about reconciling the human race to God, we are called to be intentional about joining Him in that ministry of reconciling others to God and each other.8
Ephesians 2:14-22: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
We are to be the first fruits of God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, healing the segregation of the Tower of Babel. We must strive to be a picture of the glory of God described in Revelation 5 when people from every tribe, language, and nation would reign together as a family on the earth forever.9 Therefore, Christians personally and, as an extension, churches collectively are to stand up against racism. We must strive to reconcile the segregation of the Tower of Babel in intentional and sacrificial ways that reflects the intentionality and sacrifice of Jesus to reconcile humanity to God.
This belief in how the Gospel applies to race should impact the way that all Christians look at issues of immigration, systemic racism, anti-Semitism and many others that we see surfacing around us every day. For more discussion on some of these current issues, look at the applications below.
There have been grave racial injustices in the past, we continue to struggle with prejudice and racism today, and this struggle will not end until Christ comes again, but there is hope. As believers, the Gospel gives us the ability and the humility to admit that we are sinners, and how we are sinners.41 Because sin is in the world, prejudice and racism is in the world, and we all struggle with different aspects of these sinful tendencies. We should not be afraid to admit this reality or get offended when someone suggests it to us or anyone else. Jesus did not teach His disciples to argue over what was fair, but to take the log out of their own eye so they could see clearly to take the speck out of their brother’s eye.42 One of the biggest reasons we stay stuck in our prejudice and racism is un-forgiveness with each other racially. We are too afraid to admit that it is real and that we all struggle with it. We are afraid to ask for forgiveness from each other, afraid to give away power to the other race by admitting our own guilt. And yet Jesus teaches that this is the only path to peace and forgiveness between us and God, and between us and each other. It takes faith to believe that if we admit our sin to God, and ask for forgiveness in Jesus’ name, that He will forgive us, accept us, and heal our hearts by His grace. In the same way, it takes faith to believe that if we admit our sin of prejudice and racism to those of other races, God will use that humility to soften and not harden the hearts of those around us toward forgiveness and unity. The Gospel is the hope of the world to reconcile us to God, and it is the hope of the world to reconcile us to one another.43
Because we believe this, Fellowship Bible Church will continue to strive to diversify our body, staff, and elders through building in depth personal relationships across racial lines. We recognize that isolation fosters ignorance of one another’s true perspectives and Christ-centered relationships can foster understanding and change. We do see color. Because God made and sees color. Diversity is beautiful and when we are unified in equality under the love of God the picture to the world is much more beautiful because of the diversity He has made. We will also continue to partner with churches from different racial backgrounds, desiring to understand God more fully through others’ perspectives and traditions. Finally, we will be intentional about the diversity of the people who we love on as a church in our communities, striving to help right the wrongs of a painful national past as we live out the love of Jesus Christ together.
1 Genesis 1:26-31; 2:7-25; 2 Genesis 7:21-24; 9:1;3 Genesis 9:18-19; 4 Genesis 11:1-9; 5 Genesis 12:1-3; Lev. 19:34; 61 Kings 11:1-2; 7 Matthew 1:1-16; 8 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; 9 Revelation 5:8-10;41 James 5:16; 1 John 1:9; 42 Matthew 7:1-5; 43 2 Corinthians 5:17-21