I think it is time we discuss how we can best evangelize our racist neighbor. This subject needs to be examined so that we know best how to build bridges to our racist neighbors as opposed to just offending them because everyone knows that our racist neighbors will never be won to the Gospel by just calling them “racist,” as if that is the only thing that might be thought of or said of them. There is more to the humanity of a racist than just their racism. Keep in mind inside every racists is a non-racist just wanting to get out and wanting to be loved.
First, we have to get out of the way of ourselves. It is true that it takes a lot getting used to the hound dogs in our racist neighbor’s yard and the chickens roosting everywhere. It is true that seeing bootleg copies of Luther’s “The Jews and their Lies,” and David Duke’s “Jewish Supremacism” and a copy of “The Best of Chrysostom and Calvin on the Jews” sitting right out in the open in their living rooms without any kind of book covers covering the titles can be a pornographic sight. It is true that we might find their lack of hygiene, as seen in so many of them only have one tooth remaining, to be repulsive but as St. Paul says … “Such were some of you.”
Second, we need to realize that our racist neighbors are image bearers just like we are. It is true that they have this great sin about them that we find so objectionable but when we look at them we need to see them as God sees them and that is as people who bear the image of God. We have to realize that although a racist disposition denies God’s will for human dignity, we need to affirm that people who prefer the company of their own people should not have legal rights to protect their legal and economic security stripped from them. Remember, we are required to do unto the racists as we would have them do unto us. As Christians it is the least that we can do. I would submit that only when we make our racist neighbors feel safe can we expect to have a harvest of souls from among them.
So, instead of insulting them or not welcoming them in our churches we should go our of our way to see them as whole persons and not merely as racist pigs. How would you like to be known just by your besetting sin of uniquely loving your children, or paying only your families monthly bills?
Think about it for a second. We don’t think about sodomites only in terms of their sodomy. We don’t think about Pedophiles or Zoophiles only in terms of their pedophilia or zoophilia. We don’t think about cannibals or trannies only in terms of their cannibalism or trannie-ism. Why should we think of racists only in terms of their racism? I mean after all, wouldn’t Jesus think about the feelings of racists before condemning them to hell? Can we do any less?
For my part, I can only tell you that some of the nicest people my wife and family and I have ever met are racists. We’ve known some of these racists to befriend not only other white people but actually to greet non white people in stores, to visit with non-white people in public gatherings, and even to help non-white people in their need. It is true that they still won’t give their children in marriage to non-white people and they still insist that multi-cultural social orders breed low trust societies but we need to learn to give credit where credit is due and realize that the grace of God can save such people. I’ve seen these racist people perform deeds of kindness that would put our church people to shame. Does not God’s common grace count for something?
Of course the wife and I are careful to teach our children that we cannot turn a blind eye to these racist friends lifestyle. We point out to our children the disgusting sin of inter-ethnic preference. In family devotions we expose the racist sin of our neighbors by pointing out to the children how they only go shopping in safe areas of town. However, I think we in the church need to get past only seeing the most grotesque thing about a person (their racism) as if that is their only truth. These are people who love their mothers and family just like we do. We need to build on that to give them the Gospel.
We need to recall that just as God’s rain falls on the just and the unjust so that same rain falls on the racists and non racists alike. This teaches us about God’s incredible mercy and if that mercy could reach us when we were not yet Christian certainly it can reach even the racist while they are not yet Christian. Where is the tenderness and kindness that was characteristic of the Church through the centuries? Where is the historic love of Jesus for the least of these? Would you die for your racist neighbor to see them won to the Kingdom? If not, then maybe you should slow up in your ready condemnation of the racist.
Given all this we need to start treating our racist neighbors as real people. Go ahead and say “hello” to your racist neighbor. I know enough of them to assure you that they won’t bite you. Make them a meal. Help them get to the hospital if they are hurt. Donate blood or an organ to help them return to health and great will be your reward in heaven. Remember underneath that racist veneer is a human whom Jesus died for. His or her racism does not negate their humanity. Remember that.
Remember, without your willingness to be a channel of grace, your racist neighbor may well go to hell. Let that motivate you in your outreach to racists.
Addendum — Even some our clergy need help on this subject. Call up your parson and take him out to lunch and talk with your clergy member about his or her shrillness on the subject of racism. Remind your minister that racism is not the unforgivable sin. Remind your minister that your church as well as (s)he and the church staff may well can learn something from the racists.
Remember… it only takes a spark to get a fire going.
Inspired by Paul Tripp