What is racism? It depends on who you ask.
Cable news presents two extremes. One side seems to indicate that nearly everything is racism and most people are racist. The other side seems to indicate there is little or no racism today. Neither of these extremes is helpful to Kentucky Baptists as we care for our fellow image bearers.
So, what is racism? The online Oxford Dictionary defines racism as, “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.”
The Bible speaks authoritatively to followers of Jesus on favoritism in James 2:1 and 2:9. Christians are told favoritism is a sin.
What can Kentucky Baptists do about racism?
1. We can pray: We can pray for ourselves, our churches, our communities and our nation. Just as we desire to end the opioid crisis while addressing poverty, we must also combat racism. We can pray for God to help us love those who are different than us. We can pray for our churches to invite all image bearers to come into our services and hear and respond to the gospel message. We can pray for our communities and nation to be influenced in a positive way by those who are ambassadors for Jesus.
2. We can grow in our understanding of those who are different than ourselves: When we get to know another person, we can better appreciate their perspective and their own unique challenges. One way to weed out racism is to cultivate authentic relationships with people of different ethnicities – one meal at a time. This practice will go a long way in overcoming stereotypes.
3. We can speak against racism: I grieved when a pastor-friend told me how his family was terrorized while he was a young boy. I would not want my daughters to experience the pain that this young man felt, nor do I want others to experience it. Proverbs 31:9 calls leaders to “judge righteously and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” Those of us in positions of leadership must use our voices on the behalf of other image bearers who are being treated unfairly due to issues related to racism.
4. We can, and we must, preach the gospel: Racism is a sin. The ultimate cure for sin will not be found in texts messages or tweets, not in the schoolhouse or the house of government, but instead in the house of God. It is through the power of the Gospel that God aligns our hearts and minds with His.
May the Lord use Kentucky Baptists to show those in our state, our nation and the world that we who are saved by Christ and live under His Lordship can lead the way in addressing the issues that plague humanity, including racism.
Dr. Todd Gray is executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention