There are two events I vividly remember from my childhood. One is the strong emotion my family felt while watching “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” (UTC is a book/film about the struggles and injustice of a African slave in the 1800’s). We cried and our parents were grief-stricken. We genuinely cared for this fictional character, who was of a “race” that was not our own. The second thing is an occasion where a few Slavic immigrants used racist language and imagery to mock Martin Luther King Jr. I have other, far less vivid, fragments from memory of such a conflicting actions and events shown by “my people” (the Slavic immigrants in America). I have some faint recollections of visiting African preachers speaking in my old Russian church, and I also have fading memories of racism and national superiority.
In any case, I, being a regular white kid, grew up with mixed emotions towards racism and ‘Martin Luther King Jr. day’ I simply didn’t know how to react. I was thankful for the day off, I was sorta glad people weren’t being forced into slavery (they could take me next), but that was it. And as a Christian, and an immigrant to this country, it left me even more confused. So how should we, the people who weren’t really affected by MLK’s civil rights movement, react towards it? I would argue we need to care, and care deeply. Here are reasons why.
1. Jesus is not a racist
We love to draw a Jesus who is white. Yet He wasn’t white, He was middle eastern. Now He transcends skin color and nationality. Jesus lovingly welcomes into His kingdom those of all races and colors (Rev 7:9). Jesus is not a racist. His Gospel unites all “races” (Col 3:11). We should rejoice because to a tiny degree, in this aspect of racial equality, our world has aligned itself on the mission of Christ. On many other issues there is a raging war against Jesus, but on racial equality, there is a healthy tendency to follow the way of Christ.
2. Victims of racism are brothers
There is a universal brotherhood between all men, of all nations, tribes, races, and colors. We all share the same DNA, the same skeletal framework, and the same blood pumps through our veins. Those who were victims of racial injustice are our brothers in humanity. But even more so, there are many victims who are Christian brothers and sisters. Jesus created among his children a bond that is greater than any bond that has ever existed since the beginning of time (John 15:12-13). Those victims of racism and slavery, are as much your brother in Christ, as is your pastor or your best friend.
3. An injustice was corrected
As Christians we strive for a time and place where all injustice is corrected. We want the world to be reconciled, we want wars and hatred to cease, we want suffering to end. And indeed such a time is coming (Rev 21:1-4). We eagerly long for this, we anticipate it with a living hope that cannot be quenched. But before we are there, we can endeavor to end injustice here and now. And so we can celebrate that one great injustice, that prideful hatred of others, has greatly diminished.
So now, join me in celebrating this day, not for American Liberalism, or Black supremacy, but because Jesus loves all races, and his family includes people from every tribe, tongue, and color.