Question: Do Black Lives Matter? Was Jesus White? Why should Africans worship a white God?
Bible Reading: Revelation 7:9-17
Text: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9)
In one way this is a very easy question to answer. Yes, black lives matter. No ,Jesus was not white. And no, Africans should not worship a white God. But let’s unpack this a little. Starting with the third question.
God is not a white God. God is a Spirit. Human beings create gods in our own image, but the God who created us all, is a pure Spirit. He is not confined to a human body. He does not have a body or a colour of skin – because he does not have skin!
Have you heard of the Shorter Catechism? It is a great summary of Christian doctrine in question-and-answer form. It can help us here.
Question four asks: “What is God?
“God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. “
But what does the Bible mean when it says that we are made in the image of God (Genesis 2:27)? I like the answer of the Shorter Catechism in question ten: “How did God create man?” “God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.”
This means everyone. A young African woman spoke to me in Western Sydney and asked about whether she experienced racism because God had made Africans inferior. I spoke to her and gave her ASK (question 30), which deals with this wrong belief. All human beings are equally made in the image of God. I was deeply moved by her joyful emotional reaction to what was a biblical truth that I had wrongly assumed everyone knew!
You also need to remember that there are not many gods – where each race or tribe have their own. Again, the Shorter Catechism question 5. “Are there more Gods than one?’ “There is but one only, the living and true God.”
That is why, in the passage we read about John’s vision of heaven, it states that there are many tribes, languages and nations before the throne of God. But there is only one God.
Now, on to Jesus. He, as the Son of God, came to earth as a human being in a particular context. He was born in Israel/Palestine. We don’t know what he looked like, because there is no description of him, no photos, no videos, and no paintings by eyewitnesses. But we do know that he would have looked like the people around him – who were not white.
What about BLM? Of course, black lives matter, because all human beings, whatever their skin colour are made in the image of God. But because we say that black lives matter that does not mean that we have to support the political organisation which is known as BLM. In fact, there are many things about the BLM movement that should make a Christian hesitant about supporting it. It is hardly an advocate of Christian teaching on God, humanity and the family. For example, as an organisation it supports abortion – don’t the lives of black babies’ matter? Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, the main abortion provider in the US, was a eugenicist who thought that abortion was a great way to reduce the poor black population!
BLM operate with a philosophy called Critical Race Theory. I don’t have time to go into the details of it all but let me say that it is a very dangerous and anti-Christian teaching – stating that white people are racist because of the colour of their skin. Ironically CRT is itself deeply racist – judging people by the colour of their skin. Martin Luther King in his famous ‘I have a Dream’ speech (look it up!) stated the opposite: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”
And we should never underplay the racism that still exists in some sections of society. However as Christians we also recognise that the United States is not the whole world. We do believe that black lives matter – including the thousands of black Christians who are killed in Nigeria every year, and who never get a mention from the BLM supporters.
We also recognise that racism has existed in every human society since the Fall of humanity. It is not just white people in America or Europe who can be racist. All human beings of any colour of skin can be racist, because all of us are human. The only solution to that is found in Christ. There are no racial or gender divisions between Christians because we are all one in Christ (Galatians 3:28). We are united around the throne worshipping the one true God!
Consider: Are you conscious of any racist attitudes you may have? Are you aware of friends or neighbours who are wrongly treated because of their race? What do you think you can do to help?
The Illustrated Westminster Shorter Catechism – Christian Focus PublicationsPrayer: Lord, forgive us when we mistreat other human beings as though they were not made in your image. Bring unity to your people. We thank you Lord Jesus, that you died for the whole world – red and yellow, black and white – all are precious in your sight. Help us to see that for ourselves and for others. For your glory and our good. Amen.