We do need to talk about it.

The topic is obviously very sensitive at present in South Africa. (When I use the word Black it includes Indians and Coloureds who equally suffered under apartheid).

The Heart Issue

Racism has been bubbling in South Africa for the last couple of years culminating in an explosion at the beginning of 2016.
Penny Sparrow, Justin Van Vuuren, Velaphi Khumalo – all have apologised, but I wonder whether what they said doesn’t reflect what they really think.

We are all sinners, we are all racist – some are worse than others, but by and large we are all racist because we are all sinners. We all in one way or the other think our ”people” are superior to others. It’s across the world and in all our hearts. I need to start and say I’m a racist, I have racist thoughts from time-to-time and I need to repent. Unless we come to this point we will not be able to begin to deal with the problem.

The Real Issue

There have been millions of social media comments. Some people are trying to get 15 minutes of fame, others have been sucked into the tyranny of social media.
In my opinion, speaking as a white Christian, underlying this recent outburst of anger is a deep seated anger and frustration of black people which says that white people don’t understand and don’t care about the dreadful injustices, suffering and inequalities of almost 400 years of racism and apartheid. It seems to me that black people quite rightly feel that after 21 years, whites just don’t get it.

I totally agree with journalist Max du Preez: “Here’s the bottom line: we whites didn’t honour the pact we made with the rest of the nation in 1994. We only honoured those parts of our constitution that were in our interest”.

I totally agree with journalist Justice Malala who is no respecter of persons: “Many whites ask: what do you want us to do? Actually nothing. Just don’t denigrate the pain, or try to make the good old days seem better than they were. They were worse than you can imagine”.

The Real History

It is wrong for me as a white man to say I understand the ravages of apartheid. I don’t. Take education. At times during the apartheid years R644 per annum was spent by the State per white child, but only R42 per black child. In 1950, most black children got 4 years of education with only 2.6% going to high school. Can you imagine what all that has done to our country? Some black children would only see their fathers once a year, because they stayed in the rural areas and their fathers worked in the cities. Families were prohibited from living with a husband or father because of the Group Areas Act. Can you imagine what that has done to marriages and family life in our country?

The fact of the matter is that we lived in a parallel universe; two peoples in one country; two nations in one country. And by and large, us whites have never really understood those injustices and inequalities. By and large, we don’t get it and that’s why many black people are so angry when they are called “monkeys”.

The Real Antidote

This blog is for Christians. I cannot speak for non-Christians or expect them to act like Christians. The antidote is found in the Bible, it’s found in Christ, it’s found in facing the truth.

Two principles:

a) Why should Christians deal with race?

Matthew 5: 13 – We are salt and light – some say that the church should not deal with politics. However, politics has to do with people, with society, with how we govern ourselves as a nation. The Bible is, and should be, deeply concerned with all of life. Jesus in Matthew 5 is talking to Christians, we are in the world, we are to be involved in the world, we are to make a difference in the world. We can never say these are not our concerns. Where there is darkness, we are meant to be the light, to dissipate the darkness. That’s why we need Christians to be Christians in every area of life – politics, education, business, the arts etc. Where there is exploitation, injustice, we need to stand up for the truth and justice.

Salt in the times of Jesus was used to prevent things from putrefying. We are to prevent things from going bad. Be it in the classroom or the boardroom or the bedroom.

Matthew 22: 34 – What is the greatest commandment – Love the Lord your God… and the second is like it, love your neighbour as yourself. We are to love our neighbour. In fact, Jesus commands us to love our enemies. That is a tough one. As Biblical Christians our fundamental job description to others is to love them.

We can’t expect non-Christians to act like Christians, but as Christians we have a duty to love our neighbour. However, you can only love if you understand the life of your neighbour. We need to build relationships with our neighbour. Our neighbours are black, white, Indian, coloured, Chinese, Eritrean, Nigerian. I would think to love your neighbour you need to know who they are, find out their background, their struggles, their hopes and dreams. Learn from them, listen to them.

b) What does the bible say about it?

Gen 1: 26, 27 – God created man in his own image. Though we have different races, languages, people groups, we are all equally made in the image of God. Strictly speaking there is only one race, the human race. Though we have some ethnic, cultural differences, we are all descended from Adam and Eve – there is only one human race. This means when I see another person, my attitude ought not to be, that’s a coloured person, that’s a black person etc. No. What I need to say:

He’s created in the image of God, just like me.

He’s descended from Adam just like me.

He is a sinner just like me.

He needs a saviour, just like me

If the other person is a Christian, what I need to say is:

She’s a sinner saved by grace, just like me

She’s a precious child of God, just like me

She’s a member of God’s family, just like me.

Colossians 3:11. The church in Colossi had Jews, Greeks, circumcised, uncircumcised, barbarian Scythians, yet all of that was eclipsed by their unity in Christ, “but Christ is all and is in all”. In the church of Jesus Christ there ought to be no discrimination, as our primary identity is not whether we are married or single, doctor or teacher, black or white. No our primary identity and our primary unity is that whatever race or colour or language we are, we are all “in Christ”. Our ethnic, cultural differences are temporary, but our identity in Christ is permanent and eternal.

Ephesians 2:14. Christ came to destroy the dividing wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile, black and white, Hutu and Tutsi, Serbs and Croats, Poles and Russians, Turks and Greeks.

Only Christ can ultimately destroy the racial barriers, because only Christ can deal with the fallen human heart. You see, racism is ultimately a problem of the heart and only Christ can change our hearts.

Some say, if only there were no blacks in SA we’d be fine. Others say, if only there were no whites in SA we’d be fine. Nonsense. It’s a problem of the heart. As Alexander Solzhenitzen was spot on: “If only it were as simple as there being good people and bad people. However, the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being”. We all need new hearts which only Christ can provide.

Eph. 2:13. We were far away from God, we were far away from one another. Christ has brought us near to God and each other through his blood.

Eph.2:14. The cross of Christ has destroyed the barrier of discrimination. The cross has broken the wall of hatred and hostility.

Eph. 2:18. Because of the cross of Christ, Gentile and Jew; Black and white; Turk and Greek; Serb and Croat all have equal access to the Father by one Spirit.

Revelation 7:9 – 10. In John’s vision of heaven, there will be people of every nation, tribe, people and language all in heaven because of the substitutionary death of Christ on the Cross. Our differences will be totally irrelevant as our combined focus will be on the Lamb seated on the throne. All one in Christ.

Real Practical Suggestions

This blog does not address the issues of land, capital, party politics or other such important matters. It is primarily speaking to Christians and how we ought to relate to one another in the body of Christ in this diverse country of South Africa.

a) We all need to repent of our sin. Whites in particular need to repent of their racism, their indifference, their unconcern for the well-being of their black neighbours. Blacks need to repent of anger or hatred. We all need to repent of our grudges and prejudices.

b) Whites in particular need to affirm in principle and in practise the fact that all people are made in the image of God and therefore have dignity, worth and eternal value.
– Do you know whether your employees have kids, their ages, their names, their grades?
– Do you know where your employees live, how long it takes for them to get to work?
– Do you know whether your employees are Christians, have you shared the Gospel with them?

c) Respect people of other races.
– At least learn the greetings of people of other races with whom you work.
– Learn the proper names of the people with whom you work. My name is Martin. I would prefer not to be called Martha or Moira. Surely I should show the same respect for other races in terms of their names.
– have you ever had a person of another race come for dinner at your home? Build relationships with people of other races by inviting them into your home.

The Real End

I agree with Ian von Memerty: “I am a recovering racist. I’ve been relatively clean for 30 years, but sometimes I slip up. When I do, I need to repent and remind myself that we are all made in the image of God and have intrinsic value, dignity and worth. I need to remind myself that we are all sinners. I need to remind myself that we all need a Saviour. Every day, as a white man, I need to take some small steps to bring healing and wholeness to our fractured, hurting world. Every day, I need to remind myself that without Christ, there is no ultimate answer to the injustices and suffering of our world. Without Christ, I am alienated from those around me and alienated from the God who created me.”


Written by Martin Morrison. Original article can be found here.