How Jesus addressed Racism

David WilsonUncategorized

You might remember a story from being in Sunday school called the good Samaritan. It was often used to teach about being kind to others. However there was a deeper meaning than just treating everyone with kindness. We find the passage in the gospel of luke.

Luke 10:25-37 English Standard Version

25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

Who is my neighbor?

The question is quite telling as to this lawyer’s attitude towards others. He desired to justify himself, that is to look for loopholes so he could pick and choose who he showed kindness and love towards. It easy to love those who are lovable but Jesus was trying to push them to look deep into their hearts about their attitudes towards those they considered “outsiders”. They would not step foot inside a Gentiles (non-Jewish home) and they definitely had animosity towards Samaritans who were only part Jewish. Nobody wants to be judged simply by the color of their skin or where they were born or whatever happens to be their economic status but by who they are as a person and by what they do. To simply make a blanket judgment of a whole group of people without knowing them personally is to show prejudice. That is to assume a stereotype. Jesus was pointing this out in his story by making the object of their racism the hero. His point was that everyone is our neighbor regardless of color or creed. Jesus even went farther when he commanded us to love our enemies. that is those who come against us. that’s a pretty tall order in a self-absorbed society. If we bring this story into a modern context and retell it changing the “good Samaritan” to whomever is the current object of scorn it will be very revealing indeed. As Christians, we need to be careful to discern and not get caught up in many of the worldly narratives today that purport to be about fighting racism when in fact they are often cover for more insidious ideologies such as a form of communism that has been repackaged for the 21st century. Let me be clear. any belief system that condemns an entire race of people because of the color of their skin is not concerned about righting wrongs or fighting injustice. it is just simply old fashioned racism. instead, let us love our neighbor regardless of what they look like and where they come from and then that neighbor might just want to help you out as well.