Summary: This sermon takes a look at the issue of racism and the reasons behind it and looks at some practical ways to bring about reconciliation.
1 Corinthians 14:8 says, “If the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” The church has been given the responsibility to boldly trumpet God’s truth so that are society has an understanding of what is right and what is wrong. One of the reasons we have such moral chaos in our society today is because the church has muted its trumpet…primarily because the church has wimped out. We have refused to take a stand on controversial issues and have neglected to proclaim God’s truth as revealed in His word. Sometimes the truth is not popular, and sometimes the truth hurts but nonetheless the church needs to stand up and speak out on these moral issues. We have attempted to do that these past couple of weeks. We have covered such topics as abortion and homosexuality, but this morning we come to a topic which I consider to be our state’s greatest sin…no its not gambling nor is it that the Bulldogs beat the Kentucky Wildcats in the ’96 SEC college basketball championship game (Although that comes close). No the sin that I am talking about is the sin of racism. The idea that one race is somehow superior to another simply because they are of a different color.
My first encounter with true racism came when I entered the sixth grade. My Dad had just retired from the military and he took a job in Greenville MS. Since my brother, sister and I were all military brats, we had grown up in primarily D.O.D. schools, where the classes were always intergraded and we never knew much about racism at all, but that all changed when we got to Greenville. The town itself was literally separated by a set of railroad tracks, with one side being the black side of town and the other side the white side. The first day of school, we went to a public school there and I was called for the first time in my life a Cracker. I had no idea what that meant but I knew it wasn’t nice. My brother and I got off pretty easy, but my sister was picked on the whole day and came home crying in tears. The next day my dad took us to the school and told the principal there that he was withdrawing all three of us, and then he told her that all that he had taught his kids about not being racist her school had managed to undo in one day. The next day my dad enrolled us at the Christian school that was right behind our house, and there we found that the people were just as racist. Although my Dad had a great paying job there, he quit and moved his family back to his hometown primarily to avoid that racism, although we found it to be in Kentucky as well.
The problem of racism is as old as the history of man. In Exodus 1 the Egyptians feared that the Israelites were growing to numerous and would take over, so they turned them into their slaves. 400 years later, after the Israelites were freed from their bondage, they felt superior to all other nations because they were God’s chosen people. In Numbers 12, Moses married an Ethiopian woman who was more than likely black and Miriam and Aaron opposed him because of it so Miriam was stricken by God with leprosy.
When we come to the New Testament, we see that racism still existed between the Jews and the Gentiles, bet was primarily strong between the Jewish people and the Samaritans. Our text said that the Jews did not associate with the Samaritans.
John 4:4 says, “Now he had to go through Samaria.” Now most Jews would have avoided Samaria had any cost. But Jesus had to go there. The Samaritans were a mixed race, part Jew and part Gentile, that grew out of the Assyrian captivity of the ten northern tribes in about 727 B.C. So intense was the Jewish dislike of the Samaritans that some of the Pharisees actually prayed that no Samaritan would be raised in the resurrection! In John 8:48, When His enemies wanted to call Jesus an insulting name, they called Him a Samaritan. The Jews felt superior and looked down upon the Samaritans so in return the Samaritans reciprocated those feelings of racism of the Jews so that the hatred was mutual. Now doesn’t that sound arrogant and ignorant…but also doesn’t sound familiar?
In an interview with Diane Sawyer on “Primetime Live” Billy Graham was asked, “If you could wave your hand and make one problem in this world go away, what would it be?” And without pausing for breath, he said, “Racial division and strife.”
Racism is a problem that exist all over the world but here in the U.S. it is primarily but not limited to a black and white issue. The U.S. has a jaded history when it comes to this issue, from the issue of slavery to segregation, to the Jim Crow laws, and even though great strides have been made in civil rights legislation, racism still exists today in various forms.