A Biblical Response to Racial Injustice
Bible Study Fellowship
As we watch the horrific acts of recent days and as we engage in conversations with one another, we are reminded of the depth of racial injustice and the pain it has caused and continues to cause. As we see all the images of violence, including the rioting and looting, we lament. We cry with Habakkuk:
“How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises. Therefore, the law is ignored and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted.”
– Habakkuk 1:1-4
Then we remember the Cross. We remember Jesus. We remember God’s promises. We find hope. The events of recent days remind us that all have sinned – deep, personal sin against others and God. But we are not lost. For if God can reconcile sinners to Himself and can reconcile Jew and Gentile through Jesus Christ, He is certainly able to bring racial reconciliation to our broken world.
This is a Biblical issue, not a political one, and calls for justice and reconciliation. As Christians, we are called to speak out against racial injustice and its tragic results because they are grievous sins against God, sins that violates the dignity of every human being created in His image.
Bible Study Fellowship has always stood upon the Bible as “… God-breathed and … useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness …” (2 Timothy 3:16). That is why we study Scripture chapter by chapter in context. God’s Word unites and guides us. We do not skip over the difficult or uncomfortable parts. God did not sacrifice His only Son, Jesus, so we could remain the same. He loves us too much to leave us where we are. He wants to transform us and mold all His children into the image of our loving Savior.
As a global ministry, with members from diverse nations and backgrounds, BSF members can stand together despite civil unrest, upheaval and confusion. We can link arms and unite around key, undeniable Biblical principles, including:
All people are created in the image of God.
God gives value and His beautiful image to every person. Human value and worth are not based on skin color, net worth, nationality, intelligence, achievement or any other metric.
All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23 & 12:3
None of us has this life all figured out. No one is blameless. We did nothing to earn God’s favor or grace. In fact, God warns His people throughout Scripture not to think more highly of themselves than they ought.
All believers are called to be agents of reconciliation and Christ’s ambassadors.
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
We are the official representatives of God, and the world is watching what believers say and do. They make judgments about God based upon how we act. We do not believe followers of Jesus have the option to respond in violence or to remain silent in the face of injustice.
God hates injustice and will ultimately right every wrong.
Until that glorious day, God commands His people to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God and one another.
Once again, the injustice of this world is not a political issue. It is a Biblical one, which we are called to live out.
So what do these biblical principles look like in real life?
It means looking at Scripture and applying it to our own actions. What does “loving your neighbor as yourself” really look like right now? How does believing “we are all made in the image of God” affect your attitudes and actions … or inactions? Does your heart ache and do you reach out a hand when you hear cries for help and pleas for empathy from “the least of these”?
Everyone who calls Jesus Lord can pray. We pray for the oppressed in our community. We must also pray for our own hearts to become soft and compassionate, ready to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Pray for opportunities to alleviate the suffering of others … just as Christ alleviates our own suffering.
You may wonder: Why is BSF writing about this now since injustice happens around the world every day?
We felt it was not just appropriate, but absolutely necessary, to be clear about our Biblical position. This was such a public violation of human rights and decency that we did not want any silence to be misconstrued. We could not let our brothers and sisters in Christ, our family members, think that we condone racist activities or that we do not see or care about the deep pain they cause.
And, to the extent any person of color has experienced racism in a BSF context, we are deeply sorry and ask forgiveness. Through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can remove any barriers that separate the Body of Christ (Ephesians 2). We invite every BSF member to ask God to open their eyes to any prejudices they might harbor. Each one can speak up when we see injustice and weep alongside our brothers and sisters when they suffer. And, as we recently studied in James, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry …” (James 1:19b).
Jesus’ brother not only gives practical advice about remaining faithful amid suffering, but also gives these timely instructions:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do.”
– James 1:22-25
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
– James 2:15-17
James wrote about Biblical living, not political belief. We cannot listen to God’s words about injustice, reconciliation or unity and simply turn away. The mirror is being held up to our face. Let us not look away and forget. Instead, let us put our faith in action and show God’s unconditional love to our neighbors. Let us ground ourselves in God’s unchanging Word and reach out to others in sacrificial love, grace and humility. Let us love – deeply, empathetically, compassionately – every man, woman and child as Christ loves us.
With heavy hearts,
Bible Study Fellowship