Every believer has been blessed by Jesus’ humble obedience to God the Father. The Lamb of God took away the sin of the world by becoming obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2:8). Think about this for a second. This is the Son of God. No one took his life from him—he laid it down as a sacrifice (John 10:18). At the cross, the Father laid our sin on His Son and condemned him to death. Let’s explore some Encouragement from Jesus in the Face of Racism in the next few moments together.
Jesus went towards death, chose death, and tasted death on our behalf. What humility we see in our King. Alec Motyer once said, “He found in himself to be expendable, so he spent. While anything that was left which could be poured forth, he poured it forth. Nothing was too small to give, or too great.”(1)
Motyer continues to say, “This is the mind and the life which is commended to us by the example of Christ.”(2) I think the Apostle Paul would agree with his point. In Philippians 2:3–5 Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus . . . .” Essentially, Paul is challenging the Philippian church to emulate the attitude of humility illustrated in Christ’s example as he goes on to explain in verses 6 through 8.
The principles of this text most definitely should be applied to how we should treat one another as we engage in discussions about race and racism. Which brings me to the main question of the article: how are we to demonstrate humility toward one another as Christians?
First, we demonstrate humility by honoring others above ourselves. We are to go out of our way to esteem others. This could look like, acknowledging evidence of grace in their lives, commending godly qualities you see in them, and putting the best possible interpretation on their words and actions. We can do this whether or not we completely agree with or even understand each other.
Second, we demonstrate humility by serving one another. There are a number of ways we can go about serving one another, but allow me to focus on one specific way. We can serve one another by becoming excited about helping others succeed in their God honoring pursuit of racial reconciliation and justice. Let us follow the words of the author of Hebrews 10:24, “ And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” We are to show our brothers and sisters that we are for them and support them in the good works they do, which includes the work of racial reconciliation and justice. There is plenty of confrontation going on, and don’t get me wrong, there is a place and time for that, but we are to be as equally eager to support one another as well. It would be wonderful if we could make it easier for our brothers and sisters to not have to worry about their reputation within the church and being labeled, ghosted, or slandered. It would be awesome if they could, in freedom, focus on pleasing God and doing good to others that is specifically focused on racial reconciliation and justice.
I am convinced that many Christians who are on this journey are truly doing it right for the right reasons. Some (like myself) may not go about it the right way all the time but nonetheless they read a passage like Psalm 99:4—about a God who loves justices, established equity, and executed justice and righteousness in Jacob—and seek to emulate their heavenly Father towards His image bearers. The pursuit of justice issues like racism is the fruit of God’s sanctifying work upon the lives of a believer, in which God is worthy of Glory for that work.
It is no secret the battle for Christians who are doing their best to connect faith with race and racism is a tough, uphill battle against the flesh, the world, and the enemy. I really don’t think our call within the church is to make this battle even harder. John Piper once said, “The aim of our lives is not just loving and doing good deeds but helping to stir up others to love and to good deeds.” May we choose to love each other in humility.
Allow me to end with a couple of questions: Do you want your family to succeed? If so, ask yourself how you can use the gifts, abilities, and other resources God has given you to serve and encourage those on this journey.
(1) J. Alec Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction & Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 106.
- That God would help the church maintain unity.
- That we would have a genuine respect and appreciation for each other.
- That we would be excited about the work God is doing in the midst of ethnic tensions.