If you live in Wales you’ll probably know of Betty Campbell MBE, the first black headteacher in Wales who’s just had a statue erected in her memory. I was a teacher for 37 years and never worked with a black teacher, let alone a black headteacher, so her achievement is very special. It’s thought that she’s the first-named, non-fictionalised woman to have a statue erected in a public place, some honour for a woman who was born and lived all her life in the Butetown area of Cardiff. She also met royalty, and when he was in the country Nelson Mandela asked if he could meet her.
A couple of weeks ago Pointless had a quiz round about the achievements of black people. I consider myself to be pretty good at Pointless but I knew hardly any answers. I felt embarrassed that I knew so little but it helped me realise just how deep-rooted racism is in this country. We laud the achievements of white people but not black people unless they’re in the sport or entertainment industries. To be fair, we also know one or two politicians. Ask me to name any famous black businessmen, lawyers, scientists, or engineers and I’d be lost.
After man separated from God it didn’t take long before he separated from his fellow man. Nations sprang up and war quickly followed. Nations became empires and other nations were subdued leading to injustices including slavery. Somewhere along the line of history, the black man came to be regarded as inferior to the white man although the idea is completely absurd and is not a difference that exists in the mind of God.
Man first separated from God in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. We don’t even know what the fruit was and it’s not important. What is important is that they chose to disobey God to be like him, something they could never be. Their disobedience and rebellion is the first sin, the beginning of the development of sin across the world and the origin of racism. Sin is the origin of everything bad on earth and racism is bad. A command of Jesus is very clear, and although he spoke it to his disciples it should have universal application. Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (1) The way Jesus loved was to treat all people the same, to respect them and to die for them. The Bible says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (2) It also says, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (3)
That’s truly amazing. Jesus died not just for his friends but also for his enemies, of which he had many. His death can bring eternal life to all who turn to him for salvation. The Bible tells us that, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (4) Jesus removed the barriers that exist between men. Racism does not have to exist. Neither does homophobia or misogyny. Jesus unites, not divides. In Christ Jesus, we are one.
Talking about the hatred that existed between Jews and non-Jews, the Bible tells us about Jesus that, “He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” (5) Barriers that exist between men no longer need to exist if we trust in Jesus. Whether it’s Jew and non-Jew, black and white, man and woman, straight and gay, able-bodied and disabled, Jesus makes himself accessible and offers his gift of salvation to all. No one is excluded from his love.
That no one includes you. Jesus died for you and it would make him so happy if you acknowledged his salvation, not just with your head but with your heart. It requires you to be sorry for your sin and to commit to living a new life for Jesus. Yes, that does mean going to church but don’t let the rumours put you off. The Christian life is a great life, the best there is.
- John 15:12
- John 15:13
- Romans 5:7,8
- Galatians 3:28
- Ephesians 2:14