The Biblical View of Humanity in a Time of Racial Tension
Acts 17.26 (NKJV)
Today we begin a new series entitled “ONE – The Biblical View of Humanity in a Time of Racial Tension.” In the next three weeks we will be looking at the biblical topics of “One Blood,” “One Image,” and “One Family.” Of course, the idea for this series came after witnessing the racial tensions that have emerged in the last couple of months and the racial tensions that have plagued our country for centuries.
As believers in Jesus Christ we are called to submit ourselves to God’s Word. As our spiritual fathers taught us, “The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, having been given by inspiration of God, are the all-sufficient and the only rule of faith and practice, and judge of controversies.” God’s Word directs the believer in what to believe concerning God, the life God desires for us to live, and how we should respond to circumstances and controversies that arise in this fallen world. For a believer in Christ it doesn’t matter if you are registered as a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. What matters to the believer is that your name is registered in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev.21.27) It doesn’t matter if you attend a white church, black church, brown church, red church, yellow church, or a church with a mixture of all five. The fact is that there are different churches but we all should be looking at the same verses. The Church of Jesus Christ is comprised of different people but we all should be submitting ourselves to the same pages of Scripture.
As we begin this series I want to share a little about myself. I grew up in central and southern Indiana. Where I grew up there were only white folk. All the kids in my grade school, junior high school, and high school were white. The college where I graduated for my undergrad only had one black student. I was born, raised, and started my adult life almost exclusively in a white world. But all of this whiteness didn’t affect my decision to welcome two abused African American boys our home. Why? Because Barb and I didn’t see black and white. We were Christians. We saw two little boys who were in extreme need of help and we welcomed them into our home, our lives, and our family. As my adopted second son, Robert, told me a few weeks ago when we were discussing the current racial tension, “You didn’t teach a black boy how to ride a bike. You taught a little boy how to ride a bike.” “You didn’t teach a black boy how to swim. You taught a human how to swim.” “People don’t get it! People are people.” His statements might be simple but true.
Barbara and I were the first white couple to foster black children in Polk County Florida and one of the first to adopt black children into a white family. We raised those two boys as our sons because they were our sons. We were not trying to make a political statement about racism or racial equality. We were just two young Christians trying to obey God’s Word and there were two little boys in need.
Brothers and sisters, I’ve seen prejudice and racism displayed on all sides. I’ve heard the racial comments from both blacks and whites telling Barb and I why we shouldn’t be raising two black boys in a white home. I’ve seen discrimination first hand by people who meant to discriminate against our boys and by those that didn’t even know they were discriminating. But these experiences do not in any way compare to the discrimination that people of color have experienced. I believe that the Church should be different. Our family has been blessed in that the Church has always welcomed us and we have always felt welcome. Why? Because the people in the church had a biblical view of humanity. Christians need to show the world the truth about racial equality. The world should look at the church and say, “Christians treat people with mutual respect.” As believers in Jesus Christ our focus should always be on the Word of God and when our focus is on the Word of God we will see that regardless of race we are all “One Blood,” “One Image,” and “One Family.”
The point of today’s sermon is that from a biblical perspective it shouldn’t matter if a person is black, white, brown, red, or yellow. Why? Because we all come from one blood. Our text this morning comes from the book of Acts chapter seventeen when the Apostle Paul was sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a group of philosophers in Athens on Mars Hill. Acts chapter seventeen is interesting because Paul was raised Jewish but at his conversion to Christianity he was called by the Lord to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. (Acts 9.15)
After spending some time in Athens these philosophers invited Paul to share with them his teachings. In addition to espousing worldly philosophies, these men of Athens were idol worshippers and the city was full of idols to every so-called god possible. They even had an altar with the inscription, “To the unknown god.” So let me set the stage. Paul was a Jew who had converted to Christianity. He was an Apostle visiting a city full of people who didn’t look like him or share his national heritage, his customs, and certainly did not share his belief in the resurrected Christ. The men of Athens would be considered the direct opposite of the Apostle Paul in nationality, culture, and religion. But within his Gospel presentation the Apostle says, “And He (God) has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” (Acts 17.26)
With all their racial, philosophical, and cultural differences the Apostle Paul tells the men of Athens that God has made every nation – all humanity – from one blood. The biblical view of humanity is clear. God made all nationalities from one blood. Without mentioning his source, Paul teaches the creation account of Genesis and states that God is man’s creator. (Gen.2.7) In this short statement Paul underscores the truth that the Creator of all things in general is the Creator of humanity in particular. And furthermore, out of one man, Adam, God made every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth. God has also determined the appointed times when nations rise and fall and has determined the boundaries and boarders.
Therefore, no matter when and where a person has lived. No matter their nationality or culture. All of humanity is from one origin created by God and all descended from one common ancestor, Adam. This means that all of humanity is related to one another and there is no room for ideas of racial superiority. The biblical view of humanity is that we are all one blood.
Our Commonality Makes Us One
All humanity regardless of nationality or race has the same physical structure. Our bone structure is the same. Our nerve structure is the same. Our artery structure is the same. Our organs function the same. Can you tell me the nationality of this guy?
Of course not but you know that he is a human being. We don’t know the color of his skin but we all know that his skin perspires just like ours in the summer heat. Why? Because he is human. We don’t know if his nose is flat or round but we do know that his sense of smell is the same as ours. Why? Because he is human. We don’t know if his eyes are dark or light but we do know that his eyesight is the same as ours. Why? Because he is human. His heart, his lungs, his kidneys, and his liver all function the same as ours. Why? Because he is human. His taste, his hearing, his sense of touch is the same as ours. Why? Because he is human. His desire for knowledge, happiness, and love is the same as ours. Why? Because he is human. His emotions range from gladness to sadness from rejoicing to mourning just like ours. Why? Because he is human. Brothers and sisters our commonality makes us one and leaves no room for racism. This is the biblical view of humanity.
God’s Crowning Act of Creation
God created man and from one blood made all the nations of the earth. So to deny human dignity and respect towards others is to defame the Fatherhood of God. To refuse others human equality and dignity is to deny the fact that humanity was God’s crowning act of creation. Only man was formed by God with His own hands. Only man did God breathe into his nostrils the breathe of life. Only man did God give dominion over all of creation. Only man did God enter into a covenant relationship.
The fact is that God values humanity above everything else He created. And if God values humanity above everything else He created then what right does anyone have to devalue another person’s worth? Let me read for you a portion of Psalm chapter eight and then ask you a few questions. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! (Psalm 8.3-5)
The text begins “when I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him.” Notice the inspired writer doesn’t ask, “What is a black man that You take thought of him?” Or, “What is a white man that You take thought of him?” Or, “What is a brown man that You take thought of him?” The inspired writer asks, “What is man that You take thought of him.” It seems that the inspired writer understands that all of humanity is God’s crowning act of creation. He could have said, “What is humanity that You take thought of him?” “What is humanity that You care for him?” “What is humanity that You crown him with glory and majesty?” And if God thinks about, cares for, and crowns all of humanity with glory and majesty wouldn’t it be Godlike for us to do the same? This is the biblical view of humanity.
Consistent with the Gospel
I also want you to see that the oneness and equality of humanity is consistent with the Gospel Jesus Christ and to devalue any nationality as less important than another is an insult to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just listen to these familiar passages of Scripture.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Mt.28.19-20)
and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Lk.24.46-47)
but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1.8)
The great commission of Christ to His Church is to reach all humanity with the Gospel. Every believer is called by God to share the Gospel with every person regardless of nationality. With humility of mind we are regard one another as more important than ourselves and to look out for the interest of others. (Phil.2.3-4)
This was the attitude of Christ Jesus, who humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross so that every knee should bow regardless of race and every tongue confess regardless of their national language that Jesus Christ is Lord! (Phil.2.5-11)
And the result of that type of Gospel attitude will be a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, one day standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Rev.7.9-10)
Notice, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues. And we can have a little taste of that here and now. Every one of us comes from different backgrounds, nationalities, and languages. But we can gather around at this table and eat one bread and drink one cup to we celebrate the redemption we have in Jesus Christ.
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
…the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God,
the Father Almighty;
from thence He shall come to judge
the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Christian Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” (Rev.4.11)