In recent weeks it was the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This is an important day around the world but also for us individually as Jesus followers and for us collectively as a global church with a mission of creating healthy church communities and creating significant and sustainable social impact. To simplify, discrimination is the unfair treatment of people based on their race. To simplify, discrimination happens every day around the world.
This week the UN General Assembly President shed some light on the current impact of racial discrimination in the world. “He called for “relentless efforts” as the legacies of the racist systems of slavery, apartheid, and segregation still reverberate in communities, institutions, and our minds. Like a virus, racism mutates and adapts itself to different times and contexts. Its symptoms may change, but the breadth of its harm remains intact,” he said. Read the full article here.
The theme this year focuses on urgency as it has been 75 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). 75 years ago, the global community of nations agreed on a set of common values and rights inherent to every single human, regardless of race, color, and/or ethnicity. Yet still, 75 years later, racial discrimination continues to have a negative global impact.
As Jesus followers, what is our role in ending racial discrimination. As Jesus followers, what should we do about a problem which everyday hurts people who God has called us to, in the communities and countries He has placed us. I advocate that as our first step we go to our Bible. The Bible is our timeless universal declaration on all matters. The Bible was created 3000+ years ago. The Bible is loaded with so many verses which can speak to racial discrimination. The Bible is our individual and collective urgency!
Let’s look at two passages in the Bible. The first one takes us to the beginning of the Bible, the Old Testament. Let’s look at what God says in Genesis 1:26. It says, “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image.” Notice a few important details:
- First, when God created humans, God created one race, the human-race. Which means when we build societies based on grouping people by their race, we go against God.
- Second, when God created humans, God created every human in His image. Which means when we devalue another human because of their physical traits/race, we go against God.
- Third, as each human is an image bearer of God, each human has inherent equal value. Which means when we think, follow a practice, or implement a policy that is in opposition to this, we go against God.
The second Bible passage takes us to the New Testament. Let’s look at what Jesus says In Mark 12:31 (ESV). Jesus says, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus repeats this in Luke 10 and knows we need a tangible example and so he gives us the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25. This parable is bold. It is radical. It is countercultural. It shows us that loving our neighbor requires loving intentionally, sacrificially, and across ethnic (and racial) lines. But Jesus. This is how He lived. In the New Testament we see story after story where Jesus went out of his way to love the marginalized, His marginalized neighbor.
This is how we should go about doing our part to end racial discrimination! We should let Genesis 1 fuel our urgency and we should let Luke 10 define our efforts!
Let’s not let the scope and complexity of the problem stop us from being part of the change. Jesus never shied away from a problem, and we shouldn’t either. Jesus intentionally, practically, and sacrificially loved the marginalized, and we should too. If each one of us did something right where we live, all our collective efforts would be huge!
Our vision to be a healthy church changing lives through Christ invites us to be part of the change that is needed to ensure elimination. Two of our missions do the same. Our mission of building healthy church communities, health not being possible if discrimination is present. Our mission of creating significant and sustainable social impact, the elimination of racial discrimination being one opportunity of social impact we could make.
We as a Hillsong Global community are on this journey of being the change. In 2020 our urgency came to the forefront and our global RDEI Committee was created. Since then, God has been using this group to build our awareness and equip us. Through this group, God directed us to create the Hillsong Global Ethnic and Racial Healing and Unity Strategy. Although we are in the beginning stages of implementation, we have expectation around what God is going to do with all our global efforts – for His glory!
Hillsong Global Ethnic and Race Diversity and Inclusion Manager
Maria Hansen-Quine, LASW, MSW