Racial conflicts are a concern in society. Alienation between people of different races and nationalities has existed throughout history, including in Bible times. We can expect God's word to guide us in dealing with the problem. What does it teach?
Under the Old Testament, Jews were God's special nation. They separated themselves religiously from Gentiles and refused to socialize with them. Some Jews, after being converted to Jesus, believed the gospel should not be preached to Gentiles and they should still not associate with Gentiles.
Acts 10:28,34,35; 11:17,18 -- God gave special revelations to show Peter and the Jews that, under the New Testament, men of every nation can please God. No one is common or unclean. God shows no partiality, so all can obey the gospel and have eternal life. If one opposes this teaching, he withstands God!
Romans 10:12,13 -- There is now no distinction between Jew and Gentile (people of different races and nationalities) in spiritual matters. Jesus is "Lord over all." Whoever calls on Him will be saved.
Mark 16:15,16 -- This is why the gospel should be preached to "every creature" in "all nations" (Matt. 28:19). For example, the eunuch converted by Philip, being from Ethiopia, was almost surely a black man (Acts 8:25-39).
Revelation 5:9 -- Jesus redeems by His blood people from "every tribe, tongue, people, and nation." If all these people will be saved by Jesus, they will all be in heaven. If we are going to live forever with them in heaven, why refuse to worship with them on earth?
Galatians 3:28 -- All nations, etc., are one in Christ. If there is no distinction in the gospel between Jew and Gentile, then surely the power of the gospel should break down the barriers of all races and nationalities.
People of all nations need the gospel. It is our duty to take it to them. When they are converted, we are all one in Christ and ought to work together in unity in the local church even as first-century Jews and Gentiles were taught to do.
[Eph. 2:11-18; 1 Tim. 2:4; Tit. 2:11; 2 Peter 3:9; Rom. 1:16; 2:6-11; Acts 15:9,11]
Genesis 1:26,27 -- People, both male and female, were created in the image of God. Regardless of race or nationality, all men are descendants of Adam, therefore all are in God's image. We can all be His spiritual children. It follows that all people should be treated with decency and respect.
Luke 10:25-37 -- Jesus was asked, "Who is my neighbor?" He answered by telling of a Samaritan who helped a needy Jew. These men came from two nations that were enemies, but Jesus showed that everyone is your neighbor, regardless of race or nation. We should "go and do likewise." We owe it to all people who have a genuine need to be kind and helpful.
Galatians 2:11-14 -- In teaching Cornelius, Peter had eaten with Gentiles (Acts 11:3). Later, however, he refused to eat with Gentiles. Paul said this was hypocrisy. When we refuse to be hospitable or show common courtesy to people, because of race or nationality, we are "not straightforward about the truth of the gospel" and are "to be blamed."
[John 4:9; Acts 6:1-6; 1 Tim. 5:20,21; Gal. 2:5,6; James 2:1-13]
It clearly follows that cruelty, unkindness, and mockery of people, because of their race or nationality, is a violation of Biblical love. Instead we should show care and kindness to all people.
But we also should not over-react and justify mistreatment of people simply because they do not belong to a minority group. Minority groups should not be favored to the harm of majority groups, any more than majority groups should be favored to the harm of minority groups. Respect of persons in either way is equally wrong.
The New Testament church lived in an age of alienation between races as great as any that exists today, yet Christians never rioted, looted, stole or destroyed the property of others, or disobeyed civil law in the name of civil rights. Even if they felt they had been mistreated, they were taught not to return evil for evil. Two wrongs do not make a right (Rom. 12:17-21).
So Christians today should want people of all nations to be saved. Therefore, we should teach them, be kind to them, and be willing to work and worship side by side with them in Jesus' church. We should preach the gospel and change the hearts of men so they will want to treat others right.
Copyright 2/2001, David E. Pratte
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.