Salvation and love are for all

Published 9:10 pm Friday, August 18, 2017

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

As I checked the news last Friday night, I began to see frantic posts about violence at a white supremacist rally that was happening in Charlottesville.

The sight of these haters walking onto the lawn at UVA with their silly tiki torches was disconcerting enough. Unfortunately, that was nothing compared to what was coming on Saturday, when there was fighting in the streets and a full-blown domestic terrorist incident.

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A young neo-Nazi, taking a page from the Islamic terrorist playbook, rammed his car into a group of counter-protesters, taking one life and maiming several more.

As a proud son of a World War II veteran who fought against Hitler, it made me incredibly angry to see hands raised in Nazi salutes that symbolize the Holocaust, the murder of millions of people.

As a follower of a dark-skinned, Middle Eastern, Jewish man named Jesus, who gave his life for me, it made me furious.

I am thankful that my particular family of churches, the Southern Baptist Convention, adopted a strong resolution of condemnation of the alt-right at our annual meeting in June. But far more important than anything a resolution can say is what God’s Word says.

From beginning to end, the Bible makes it crystal clear that racism, ethnic hatred and anti-Semitism are sinful and demonic ideologies of a fallen humanity.

In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, God created human beings in his own image. Just as he showed his glory in creating different kinds of plants and animals and colors and foods, God showed his glory by creating people with differing skin pigmentations. He is not a bland Creator, but a brilliant one.

Also in Genesis, God promises Abraham, “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” God was promising that he was going to bring salvation to the world through the seed of Abraham.

This promise was fulfilled in Jesus. And, through Jesus, God promised to bless “all the families” of the earth. That means all people groups, all ethnicities and races.

In the Great Commission that Jesus gives to his church in Matthew, he gives us the assignment to go and make disciples of all nations. The Greek of that verse means all peoples, of every race and ethnicity.

In the early church, which we learn about in the book of Acts and the epistles, one of the key themes is that, in Christ’s church, God has torn down the walls of ethnic and racial animosity and created one new family to love one another and bring his love to the world.

Finally, in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, God gives us the vision of what the future will look like, as people of every tribe and tongue gather in a new heaven and earth to praise and serve Jesus, in unspeakable love and joy forever.

Therefore, racism is anti-gospel, anti-Christ and anti-Bible. It is a satanic ideology that emanates from the pit of hell. God’s people should be the first to denounce it.

But more than that, we must live out God’s love for all. Let us go out of our way to love people who look different from us and speak different from us, shining forth God’s love, bringing glory to him.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.