That title has words I never would have thought could be in the same sentence. And as I look back at my early life, I recall words coming from my mouth that vshould have never been uttered. I am ashamed of and have repented of my sin of racism. These thoughts were stirred in me recently by reading Pastor Tony Evans’ book Oneness Embraced, about racism and the church. I recommend that you read it. Thank you Greater Dayton Association Pastors for the initiative that we all to read it together.
At the same time I also read another story that helps modern Christians see more clearly the shocking evil of racism and how blind to it most of us, white Americans, have been to it. I saw enough of it in my small, Tennessee community to know it is to be hated. Yet I remained ignorant of the depth and breadth of the evil. The story is told in Christian George’s blog post at The Gospel Coalition site entitled, shockingly, “Why The American South Would Have Killed Charles Spurgeon.” Read it all here.
Today, Charles Spurgeon’s books are among the most loved and read of any ever written. I honestly don’t know a pastor, Sunday School teacher, or serious disciple who doesn’t cherish anything written by him. But not many years ago those same books were despised and Spurgeon, himself, hated. Why? It was all because he spoke out against slavery and racism in the United States.
Spurgeon lived in London and planned to make a visit to the US on a preaching tour. But the hatred of racists, including that of Christians, warned him loudly not to set foot across the Mason Dixon Line. Church leaders, pastors, and denominational newspapers called him filthy names, burned his books and sermons, even threatened that he would be beaten “so bad as to make him ashamed.” After burning his books one day some Alabama folks said, “And if the pharisaical author should ever show himself in these parts, we trust that a stout cord may speedily find its way around his eloquent throat.”
The evil of racism is shocking. That someone so loved, as Spurgeon, would be treated that way, is eye-opening to white people who have remained uninformed about racism. But the reality is even deeper because no one ever laid a finger on Spurgeon. But countless African Americans were murdered, burned, lynched, beaten, and treated in many despicable ways. That racists’ hatred would even murder the “prince of preachers” makes us see that we, the church, haven’t seen it for what it is.
We should be thankful that great changes have happened in our culture. But we also need to be reminded that racism still exists in the hearts of many. Sadly, it still exists in many who call themselves followers of Jesus. May we not continue to be blind or insensitive.
We who follow Jesus must work hard to aid the sanctification of those in our churches. That includes calling out the sin of racism when we see it. And it means opening our lives and friendships to one another, including those from all ethnicities. May we live lives worthy of our calling; those who had no kingdom rights and did not belong to God’s chosen people, His covenants and promises were chosen by Him to become His very own and dearly loved. There is no room for racism of any degree in any follower of Jesus.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8