8 Reflections on Racism and Riots

I’m neither black nor white. I’m brown, or Asian American. And I’m a Christian; therefore, I want to address racism and rioting from a biblical point of view. Here are some thoughts on these issues:

1. There’s only one race on earth, and that is Adam’s race. Regardless of your skin color, your origin can be traced back to Adam (Genesis 1 & 2). We should therefore view ourselves as belonging to the same Adamic race. And having the same blood, we should love, and not hate, each other.

2. Since we have the same race, you can’t say that your race is better than other races. To be a racist is to be inconsistent with the Bible. 

3. Whether you’re black, brown, red, white, or yellow, your life matters to God because He created you in His image (Genesis 1:26–27). My life matters not because I’m brown, but because I bear God’s image. Black lives matter not because of their color, but because they are made in God’s image.

4.  Since every life is created in God’s image, all lives are equal. We should therefore treat every life with equal importance. George Floyd’s life was as important as the lives of those Nigerian Christians brutally murdered by Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and Boko Haram. According to genocidewatch.com,

“350 Nigerian Christians were massacred in the first two months of 2020… Nigeria has become a killing field of defenseless Christians. Reliable sources show that between 11,500 and 12,000 Christians have been massacred since June 2015 when the Buhari Government of Nigeria came to power. Jihadist Fulani Herdsmen accounted for 7,400 murders of Christians. Boko Haram committed 4000 killings of Christians.” 

Since 2015, nearly 12,000 black lives were murdered in Nigeria. Right now there are demonstrations around the world, including England, Germany, and Canada, against the horrific murder of George Floyd. Yet I can’t help but wonder: Why don’t we also hear an outcry regarding the mass killings in Nigeria? Is it because Nigerian lives are not as important as the lives of those living in the US? I’m not minimizing the murder of Floyd, nor am I saying that police brutality should not be peacefully protested. However, if we really believe that all lives matter, we should treat every single life with equal worth. We should not pick and choose what life we want to value.

5. Since God’s image is sacred, and since every life is made in God’s image, every life is not only important and equal, but also sacred. The murder of George Floyd was evil because it violated the sacredness of his life (Genesis 9:6). And the sacredness of one’s life doesn’t depend on who violates it. Floyd’s life was sacred, but not because it was violated by a white police officer. Even if he was murdered by a black police officer, his life was still sacred. 

Every life matters, because every life is sacred. Thus, I plead with those concerned for black lives to likewise protest against the murder of unborn black babies. The lives of these babies are just as sacred as George Floyd’s life. According to Grand Rapids Right to Life,

“Abortion is not just a woman’s issue.  It’s a human rights issue.…Abortion is the number one killer of black lives in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, abortion kills more black people than HIV, homicide, diabetes, accident, cancer, and heart disease … combined.”

6. God has gifted us in the US with the First Amendment, which guarantees “the freedom of speech” and “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” Constitutionally, you have all the right to protest against the injustice done to George Floyd. But according to the First Amendment, you must do so “peaceably.” Therefore, you have no right to loot, hurt police officers and set their vehicles on fire, vandalize and ruin buildings. This is not your right! After all, what does looting have to do with the murder of Floyd? Do you think it will help solve the issue? The injustice done to Floyd does not license you to commit lawlessness.

My heart was grieved by what happened to Floyd, but my heart was equally grieved by the destruction caused by lawless rioters. We should all listen well to what God says,

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all….Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17–21). 

7. Racism is still very much alive in our country. We can either ignore this problem and pretend it doesn’t exist, or face and address it. Fellow Christians, we should deal with the issue of racism with the same force that we give to the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage. To my fellow pastors, we should also be preaching against the sin of racism.

8. The only remedy for racism is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ:

Racism says, “I’m ethnically superior to you”; the Gospel says, “We equally matter before God, because both of us are created in His image.”

Racism violates the sanctity of life; the Gospel treats every life as sacred.

Racism begets hatred and violence; the Gospel begets love and peace.

Racism divides; the Gospel reconciles, not only between you and God, but also between you and your enemies.

Racism harms and kills; the Gospel heals, and grants everlasting life through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

Racism resents; the Gospel forgives.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31–32).

What we therefore desperately need today in our country is the Gospel. And that's the beauty of the Gospel—in Christ, we become all one. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

Brian G. Najapfour has been a minister of the Gospel since 2001 and has served both in the Philippines and in the U.S. He is the author of several books, including A Hearer of God’s Word: Ten Ways to Listen to Sermons Better. He blogs at biblicalspiritualitypress.org.

Related Links

"The Statement on SJ&G Explained: Article 14, Racism" by Darrell B. Harrison

"The Church's Answer to Racism and Sexism" by Jason Helopoulos

"Lloyd-Jones on Racism and the Gospel" by David Prince

Galatians by Philip Graham Ryken