Category  |  racism

January 12, 2015

How have recent acts of terrorism affected you spiritually? How has your faith in Jesus provided the perspective and hope you need?

pass the bacon

As Peter was waiting for lunch, he slipped into a trance and saw a sheet drop from the sky full of unclean animals. The image must have startled him—Why was a good Jew like him having a filthy dream like this? What he heard next shocked him: “Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.” “No, Lord,” Peter declared. “I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure and unclean” (Acts 10:13-14).

no more prejudice

Many years ago, it was assumed that women could not play the French horn better than men. Their thoughts were challenged and disproved, however, when Julie Landsman auditioned for the role of principal French horn for the renowned Metropolitan Opera. During her audition, Landsman sat and played behind a screen—and played beautifully. After being declared the winner of the lead chair based on sound alone, she stepped out from behind the screen. The judges gasped! They didn’t expect to see a woman.

right with God

Theologians are debating what the apostle Paul meant when he said that “we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law” (Romans 3:28). Traditional Protestants follow Martin Luther’s insight that sinners like us can’t do enough good works to satisfy a holy God. We become right with God by putting our faith in Jesus. When we trust Christ, God our Father performs what Luther called the “joyous exchange,” placing the guilt of our sin upon Jesus and counting His righteousness as our own.

don’t be evil

How does a cute, little baby grow up to become the face of evil? How does an Austrian boy become Adolf Hitler or a son of privilege turn into Osama bin Laden? And what makes one group of people slaughter members of a neighboring group? How could they possibly think that was a good idea?

unwanted and unloved

A pastor and his congregation, serving in an area known for addicts, alcoholics, and prostitutes, have prayed an interesting prayer for many years: Lord, send us the people nobody else wants. That prayer has been answered, for more than 800 church attendees are now involved in recovery programs designed to help them break free from destructive lifestyles. Recently, the pastor added this phrase to the end of his prayer: . . . and nobody else sees. He says, “[These people] are often overlooked. . . . But after all, as Jesus put it, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do’ ” (Matthew 9:12).

dangerous concessions

In 1857, a few white members of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) in South Africa asked permission to celebrate the Lord’s Supper separately from their black brothers and sisters. The General Assembly believed their request was wrong, but acquiesced “due to the weakness of some.” This concession soon became the norm. And this racism prompted the unwanted black Christians to leave and start their own churches. So the South African church, divided by race, eventually became a vocal supporter of apartheid. In 1924, the DRC argued that the races must remain separate, for “competition between black and white on economic levels . . . leads to poverty, friction, misunderstanding, suspicion, and bitterness.”

a prophet and a roaring God

Amos is one of the most intriguing biblical characters, tucked away in the neglected corner of the Minor Prophets. I’ve struggled with the prophet partly because my son Seth once had a stuffed monkey named Amos. My main difficulty, however, has been that Amos is true to his calling as a prophet.

love in action

During the US civil rights struggle, lovingkindness required the demolishing of unjust laws, but it also required that individuals take deliberate action. It was not enough for whites to take down the “Whites Only” signs or allow blacks to vote. True welcome and relationship required whites to move toward friendship; and it also required blacks to embrace (again and again) the risk of stepping into friendships within contexts where they had been wronged and excluded. It required love in action.

go, influence

If you’re a believer in Jesus, you’re called to influence society. Jesus not only calls you to be His friend (John 15:15), but also to be His salt and His light (Matthew 5:13-14).

Salt is well known for two popular uses. We use it as an additive to enhance flavor (think of the saltshaker on your kitchen table), and as…

the gospel and social justice

Many people think there’s no connection between the gospel and the fight against such social evils as poverty, racism, and sexual trafficking. They surmise that the gospel is concerned only with going to heaven when we die, so they assume it has nothing to say about the social ills of this life.

Worse, since the gospel divides Christians from people…


I am forced to preach under something of a handicap this morning,” said Dr. Martin Luther King on a November day in 1957. His physician had instructed him to stay in bed, but King insisted on speaking.

Paraphrasing the words of Jesus, he declared to the congregation at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama: “You have heard that it…


Invictus, a film starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon and set in South Africa at apartheid’s end, tells the story of Nelson Mandela’s inaugural years as South Africa’s first black president. The opening scenes are grim, showing blacks playing soccer in a dumpy, dusty field, while whites, clad in crisp, clean uniforms, are playing rugby on a plush field directly…

rude and racist?

Jesus could be harsh at times. He called Pharisees “whitewashed tombs” (that is, nice on the outside, disgusting within); He called Herod a “fox”; He even called Peter “Satan” (Matthew 23:27; Luke 13:32; Mark 8:33). Yes, Jesus could be forthright—but rude and racist? Some think today’s story proves so. Jesus was hiding in a home in the region of Tyre…

smashing serpents

Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that 11 o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America. He meant that white Christians and black Christians often worship in separate churches. Recently I’ve noticed a new kind of Sunday morning segregation. It’s increasingly common for churches to divide according to worship style, holding traditional services for older folks who…