In the spring of 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles based on racial discord and inequality. The focus of the riots, Rodney King, a black man who was beaten up by white police officers, famously said amidst all the anger and violence “Can we all get along?” It seems that not only has this plea been ignored in the ensuing quarter century since it has been said, but we have found more ways to be divisive. Just in the last few months alone, people have found new ways to hate another: in politics animosity is not only towards opposing political candidates, but against candidates in the same party; people bullying one another over choice of recreational activities; and #BlueLives Matter / #AllLivesMatter vs. #BlackLivesMatter.
Division is not a trait of progressive Christians. As Christians, we recognize that we are all “created in God’s image”. As progressives, we realize that everyone deserves to be treated equally. As such, you would think that progressives would be behind #AllLivesMatter. After all, the Bible says in many places that God loves and cares for everyone. However, when we look at the example of Jesus, while it was obvious he cared for everyone he came across, whether they were rich or poor, powerful or oppressed, he spoke mainly about those who were disadvantaged by society. He had a special affinity for those who were always oppressed and maltreated by society, the beatitudes were written to reassure the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those who yearn for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and the persecuted, minorities all. Jesus got #BlackLivesMatter. While he showed love to all, he knew that certain groups needed His attention and care more right now, as they were not being shown it in the world. Most of His recorded visits were to the oppressed of his time, the women, the poor, the sick, the minorities. We may not be any of those things, but Jesus has ensured us that He loves us too, these groups need Him more right now. And this is why He has asked us to especially care for them too, as Christians our concerns should be Christ’s concerns.
The Bible is actually quite colourblind. Skin colour is rarely mentioned in the Bible, probably because for thousands of years the Scriptures were read primarily by those of a localized region, the same region where the events occurred and thus the reader knew what the people of the Bible looked like. They looked like themselves! They could feel good that God’s word was meant for them alone. While God created us in His image, after Christianity started to spread to other races, we started creating God in our image. In the Middle Ages, artwork started to depict God (a divine being with technically no skin colour, but anthropomorphized in the Bible, again to help us better relate to Him) and Jesus as the same race as those now in the majority of Christendom (Europeans). It probably didn’t help matters that at the time they were at war (the Crusades) against the residents of the Holy Land, and the subtle propaganda of reminding people that their God is their race and doesn’t look at all like the people they are fighting most likely aided to that. But that was again getting away from God’s message of a colourblind Bible. Other races portrayed Jesus as someone they could relate to, we took it one step further and insisted our white Jesus was for someone the whole world should relate to, creating feelings of inferiority in other races that Europeans specifically avoided by making sure that they (Caucasians) weren’t worship ping a different-race Jesus (Palestinian).
One famous example where the ethnicity of a character was deliberately chosen as the “other” was in Jesus’ famous parable of the Good Samaritan, which I’ve referenced a couple times before in this blog because it’s a great example of the progressive’s mantra to care for others regardless of how you view them. Jesus specifically used someone who was among the most oppressed in his society to be the one who shows kindness, and to be our example, rather than just leaving the do-gooder nameless where we can just picture ourselves in there and feel good about it. If you’re not familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan, let Matthew Henry share with you the story:
. . . he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
… Jesus replied:
“A man was going down from Saint Paul to Falcon Heights, and fell into the hands of police officers, who stopped him, shot him, and stood by, leaving him for dead.
Now by chance a white man was going down his Twitter feed; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side saying #AllLivesMatter.
So likewise a white woman, when she came to the place on her Facebook feed, and saw him, passed by on the other side saying #BlueLivesMatter.
But another, while traveling social media came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to the dead man’s family, his community, and bandaged their wounds, having poured vocal compassion and appropriate silence on them. Then he put their burdens on his own back, brought them to others, and attempted to address them.
The next day he had not forgotten, and took two friends by the hand saying, ‘Take care of them also; and when I come back, we will continue the work together. The Lord will repay whatever social capital we spend.’
Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man, the family, the community, which fell into the hands of these robbers of life, both literal and emotional?”
The questioner said, “The ones who showed them mercy.”
Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”