Obviously, the reports of racism and rioting are disturbing, yet not surprising. I say they are not surprising because the Bible clearly describes the consequences of sin, both in this life and in the afterlife.
Throughout all of Scripture, except for 4 chapters out of 1189 (Gen 1-2 and Rev 21-22) we see the consequences of sin! For example, Adam and Eve were sent away from the garden because of sin (Gen 3), their first son (Cain) murdered his brother (Abel) (Gen 4).
The world rejected God to the point of global judgement in the flood (Gen 6) and, without going through every book of the Bible to describe such consequences, in the OT we can quickly think of Abraham, Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness, the time of the judges, Saul, David, Solomon, and Israel being defeated and sent into exile.
In the NT we witness the betrayal by Judas, Ananias and Sapphira’s lie to the Holy Spirit, the Corinthians abuse of communion and the description of the coming global judgement in Revelation. I think Romans 1:18-32 also clearly outlines progressive sinful responses to the progressive rebellion towards God, so that finally God has given people up to “a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (v. 28).
A list of the sinful behavior that follows is described in vv. 29-31. Yet, throughout all of this and certainly before any of this, before time even began, God had a plan of redemption. His perfect plan of salvation for mankind was no accident and was not a reaction to a failed humanity. In Genesis 3 we see a glimpse of this redemption plan (Gen 3:15).
We are given a picture of this redemption plan through the almost sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham (Gen 22), the Levitical/priestly sacrificial system was a type of what was to come through Christ, the prophets proclaimed a future redemption and Jesus is the agent of eternal, gracious, transforming redemption!
What does the Bible have to do with Racism now?
What does this have to do with riots and racism? Riots and racism are the direct consequences of sin. They are rebellion against God’s Word, and they are opposite the truth of Scripture.
Romans 12 teaches us to bless those who persecute (v. 14), live in harmony with one another (v. 16), and if it’s possible to live in peace with all (v. 18). Romans 13 describes the government as put in place by God and that we are to submit to them. While we have the privilege to peacefully protest against government decisions, a riot does not fit this category of respect for others or submission, as outlined in the above verses in Romans 12 and 13.
The issue of racism is a much more fundamental error in thinking, because it directly opposes God’s creation design. God created Adam and Eve and through them all the nations (people groups) came. There really is only one race, the human race.
We just come in different beautiful colors. Furthermore, God announced His redemption plan which included all people groups when He made the covenant with Abraham who was to be the father of many nations (Gen 17:4-5) and particularly in the NT we see salvation is for all people groups!
We find in the Gospels and Acts that even some of the Apostles were racist towards another people group; but God instructed Peter to disregard his attitude and meet with Cornelius (Acts 10), the first official church council recognized salvation was for all nations (Acts 15), Paul taught salvation was for all nations (Gal 3:28; Rom 3:28-29; 10:11-13; Eph 2:11-22) and in Revelation we anticipate the praise to Jesus “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9).
If you hate, you are in sin
While, we might see the riots on the media and hear about racism in other parts of the globe, let bring this closer to home… hatred is hatred, and hatred is sin, whether it’s based on the color of people’s skin or anything else and God clearly says that we can’t hate people and still be believers (repeated throughout 1 John). Not only this, but every act of sin is deserving of death (James 2:10 with Rom 6:23).
So, while we might not be rioting or racist, God still requires the same response of us… repentance. If you have never repented of your sin against a holy and perfect God, if you have never accepted Jesus’ death on the cross as the perfect payment for sin, if you have not put your faith in Christ and received His perfect righteousness, do not hesitate another minute! For those of us who have been saved by God’s grace, who have been granted eternal life in Christ, who were sinners but now saints; still we must ask God to help us live lives that will glorify Him.
This includes repentance for sin (but on the other side of being forgiven, see 1 John 1:8-10), obeying God’s Word (e.g. standing up for truth, supporting the oppressed, loving others) and it requires a constant, daily submission to Christ as Lord (Luke 9:23). O, how glorious God’s grace is to us who are wretched and deserving of death, apart from the marvelous, saving work of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
Genevieve Wilson is Canadian. a happily married home-schooling mum of 3, whose passion is to see people come to know Jesus. She is a seminary wife to her amazing husband.