Posted by: Terry | March 30, 2016

Xenophobia and discrimination are not Christian

Racial integration should be a hallmark of those who claim to be followers of Christ, discrimination and xenophobia are both attributes of humans through history, but Christ came to reconcile the world with God, and to reconcile those living in the world with each other. Sadly, history, both in the Church and without, has and still does reflect the deep racial divisions that have been at the root of most of our wars and conflicts.

This nation was founded by people who sought to preserve their way of life, persecuted for their faith, they established a foothold in a land where they could live and worship as they saw fit. Yet within a short span of time they were imposing their way of life on the natives, creating a strange amalgam of their faith with the Northern European life style. European dress and customs, along with the English language, were forced on converts to Christianity – completely ignoring the essence of the discussion between Paul and Peter recorded in Acts and Galatians.

Slavery was justified by conveniently ignoring the whole message of the Bible. African slaves “needed” converting, if the message of Christ is true then yes all people need to hear that message, but they were not integrated into the body of the white church. It was fine if they had their own church, to keep them in line, as long as they did not disrupt the social structure of the White Majority. Even today our churches are too segregated. John Stott observed that Sunday Mornings at 11.00am is the most segregated time of the week. We preach love and forgiveness, but shun integration. He said any church that is not multi-racial, when it could be, is not fulfilling the great commission.

For all of our history as the USA, the majority Europeans, mostly male, have strived to protect their status and subdue any threats from others to change our way of life; it is an embarrassing history.

A woman’s right to vote was resisted in an attempt to protect the lifestyle of one group. The fight to pass Prohibition targeted Germans, and the efforts to enforce it were unbalanced against the poor and the non-whites.

When organized crime lost bootlegging as a profit making endeavor they shifted to drugs and targeted “the darks and the coloreds” (to quote The Godfather). When the War on Drugs started in the 1960’s, it targeted the non-white minorities first, some recent indications, though unsubstantiated, implying this was even discussed as a way to suppress the African American community.

Fast-forward to our current presidential election, where the division between races could not be more clear. The leading Republican candidate Trump, has attacked other races, talked of walls and laws to block people not like “us” from coming in.

The sad tragedy of all of this is that far too many supporters of this history of separation and divisiveness use their Christianity as justification for it, missing a central theme of the message of God’s reconciliation. We still are Pharisaical in how we add our own cultural requirements to the simple faith in Christ – an either active or passive protection of our own personal comfort and culture.

Yes, God chose a nation, Israel, and made them separate from the rest, but with the coming of Christ that separation was to change to inclusiveness. Christ accepted people from all walks of life and and all nations. They were all welcome into the new Kingdom of people he was forming, and he said nothing about these new members adopting a new culture, way of dress, eating, etc. Jesus prayed that all these followers would be one in heart and mind, inclusive not exclusive.

Paul clearly taught that the divisions of race and gender did not have a place in this new order. In the glimpse we have of heaven we see “people of every nation, tribe, people, and language” worshiping God together. The final chapter of the Bible talks of all nations gathering together in God’s restored world.

We, those of us who call ourselves Christian, must first acknowledge that we still tend toward that separation that started at Babel, it produced wars, prejudice, abuse, and persecution. Then we must repent before God for the sin of missing his message of love and reconciliation. “The love of Christ constrains me” to preach reconciliation, not just of people to God, but people to people, regardless of culture, race or gender.

Xenophobia and discrimination have no place in the heart of a follower of Christ and a worshiper of God. Sin separates Christ Reconciles.

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