By Vince McCarty
Times of crisis like the one we are living in now with COVID-19 can bring out the best and the worst in human behavior. While some people rise to the occasion and bless those around them, others manifest attitudes, reactions, and prejudices that do not represent a proper response and that do not honor the Lord.
When I was six years old, my parents accepted the pastorate at an Open Bible church in Macon, Georgia. The year was 1967, and I will never forget seeing for the first time three toilets in all the restaurants, stores, and public parks. One was for white females, another for white males, and the other for people of color (African American). I remember asking my parents why there were three restrooms in this strange place because I had never seen anything like that before. My parents tried to explain as best they could, and they always taught me that prejudice against anyone because of the color of their skin or ethnicity was biblically wrong and immoral.
The Bible tells us in Genesis 1:27 that man and woman were created in God’s image (Imago Dei). However, throughout the history of humankind we see how, contrary to God’s heart, different ethnicities have been mistreated and even abused.
Leviticus 19:3 reads “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
For us in the United States, most of our ancestors came to live here by emigrating from other countries. This enrichment of cultures, languages, and customs is what makes our country so great. However, because of the COVID-19 virus, serious instances of prejudice against and mistreatment of Asians and Asian Americans and other immigrants living in the United States have occurred.
We have the pleasure today of hearing from Rev. Ricky Poon, who is the Chinese Academic Dean for Inste Global Bible College, about some of these issues which he and his wife, Irene, and many more Asian Americans in this country have experienced.
As the Church, the body of Christ, we need to reflect God’s heart in several ways:
- Recognize that racism is alive and well in our country, speak out against it, and model proper behaviors and responses.
- Consider the narrative that brings us together – the Gospel. We need to seek Shalom and restoration, call out sinful reactions and unfair judgments, and repent.
- Model empathy so we can be part of the solution and not part of the problem. As we see that one part of our Body is suffering, we should all show empathy and concern.
- Remember the lessons Paul learned and then taught in his letter to the Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
- Live out what we preach and believe. Remember our endgame isn’t just this life, but way beyond it. Revelation 7:9 says, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” I am looking forward to that day!