Editor’s Note: The following is an edited transcript of the answer Pastor Adriel Sanchez gave in response to a caller’s question, “What is the biblical response to racism? How should Christians respond to oppression?” which aired on the Core Christianity Radio show on June 4, 2020. Listen to the entire episode here: Episode 459: How Should Christians Respond to Racism?
I heard a pastor say this the other day. He said in over 20 years of ministry, he has never once been asked to not speak on any sin, except racism. Let that sink in. He’s never had people tell him, “You shouldn’t preach against abortion” or “you shouldn’t preach against sexual immorality.” But it seems like when pastors talk about racism folks get uneasy, the accusations of being a social justice warrior or a liberal get thrown around. The fact is, we as ministers and all of us as Christians need to call sin out wherever it is, and racism is a heinous sin in the eyes of Almighty God.
If the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves, and if racism oppresses my neighbor and objectifies my neighbor, then this sin is a violation of one of the greatest commandments in Scripture, and yet people are afraid to talk about it. They get uncomfortable and pastors are asked to shy away from discussing it. This should tell us something. It should trouble us.
The problem is this. We have so confused Christianity with politics that people often assume Christian equals the stuff political conservatives identify with and non-Christian equals the stuff progressives talk about. And since racial justice often tends to be at the forefront of the discussion in politically progressive circles, we shy away from them because we think that to discuss the evil of racism is to identify with the liberal left. But here’s the thing. When we call out the evil of racism, we’re identifying with the word of Almighty God.
Woe to those who are willing to condemn the desecration of the image of God in abortion, but not willing to condemn it in racism. Both are heinous in God’s eyes and Christians ought to say so. We as Christians should mourn because of the death of George Floyd, for example, and pray that God changes the hearts of those who are prejudiced. We should pray that God changes our own hearts because the fact is, churches in this country have had a history of not speaking up on this very issue.
Look, I know that this is heavy. But isn’t our goal to be biblical, to speak the truth of God’s word. Christians believe the lives of people matter because they’re made in the imago dei, the image of God. Black Lives are made in God’s image and when we see those lives being unjustly treated or crushed, we should cry foul on the basis of Holy Scripture. I don’t care what cnn says or what the Huffington Post says, those aren’t my authority. This is God’s holy law. And that’s what we want to abide by.
So how do we address this issue? well I think the first step is listening. Listen first to God’s word. I think the Scripture is clear about this. It says we need to call racism sin condemn it, but also listen to our neighbors, to black people, especially if you’re a Christian, to black brothers and sisters in the church. Too often we talk about this issue instead of talking to one another with charity and a desire to listen. Yes, the gospel brings us together. We’re multiple races, but we’re united in Christ and we need to start pursuing each other in charity and love, so that we can be an example to the world of the unity in diversity that the gospel brings about. I think that this is one of the ways that we as a church can shine so brightly for Jesus Christ.
In a society that is so divided, where there is so much tension so much fighting so much pain. We have to be unified in the gospel, no matter what our backgrounds are. I think of what Jesus said in john 13:35, the world is going to know you’re my disciples by your love for one another and then Jesus and John 17 praying that the church would be one why so that the world might know that God the Father sent his Son into the world, our unity, our ability to come together, despite the fact that we might be different and to love each other to serve each other is such a sign of the power of the gospel to the rest of the world. And we need that right now. We need that desperately right now.
I want to pray that God in his mercy would help all of us individually and as Christians, So would you stop and take a moment to pray with me?
Father, we need you. Our country desperately needs your help. The church desperately needs your help, help us oh God to honor you, to speak the truth of your word, especially with regard to this issue or to be able to say, sin is sin and to condemn it wherever we see it, to stand against all injustice and all prejudice. Lord we rejoice in the fact that we are made in your image, and we seek to love all fellow image bearers with the love that you give to us.
Help us, Lord, as a church to be united in your gospel, to gather around Jesus, the forgiveness of our sins, to have that unity, that peace amongst ourselves so that we might be able to demonstrate the power of the gospel to a world that is longing for something else, for something better, something that only you can give.
Lord help us to be faithful to you to stand up for those who are oppressed, to speak against all oppression, and to cling to the hope that we have in your son, Jesus Christ that unites us. And it’s in his name we pray, Amen.