Racism and the Generosity of the Gospel


In recent weeks people like Paula Deen and Riley Cooper have come under intense scrutiny for their use of racial slurs. The stories are not identical (Deen was accused of using the word years ago, Cooper was more recently caught on video using it) but both revealed much about our culture and what we are/are not willing to tolerate.

With these stories on my mind, I ran across these words in J.D. Greear’s book, Breaking the Islam Code. I think they are worthy of sharing…

The sin of racism arises, ultimately, out of insecurity. The racist feels the need to look down on other people (in his case, a whole race of people) to bolster his own self-image. If you try to change the racist by saying, “Don’t be a racist, because racists are bad people,” you are implying to him that bad people will be rejected. And if he wants to avoid rejection, he should conform to the moral behavior that will gain him acceptance. You are appealing to his fear and insecurity—the very things that prompted the racism to begin with!

The gospel, on the other hand, attempts to cure the sin of racism not by threatening rejection, but by showing us the unconditional acceptance we have received in the cross. How could those of us who have been accepted by Christ refuse to accept others? This is what happened with the apostle Peter. Peter had some racist tendencies, believing Gentiles to be inferior to Jews. When Paul confronted Peter, he did not threaten him with rejection. Rather, he said, “Peter, you were accepted by Christ when you were an outsider. How could you then refuse to receive other outsiders?” The generosity of the gospel, note fear of rejection, was Peter’s catalyst for change.

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