In July of 2012, Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson had planned to be married in the church they attended, First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, Mississippi. All the arrangements had been made, the invitations for the wedding sent out, and Pastor Stan Weatherford was ready to perform the ceremony.
Then some members of the congregation who hadn’t known that this wedding was on the church’s schedule heard about it, and stepped in to stop it. They did so for one hardly believable reason: Charles and Te’Andrea are black; and no black people had ever been married at First Baptist of Crystal Springs in its 150-year history.
It’s hard to believe such things still happen in a 21st century America that has twice elected an African American as president. But much more than that, such prejudice and discrimination should not have happened ever among Christians. Scripture is so clear about this that I have a difficult time understanding how “Bible-believing Christians” ever got mixed up about it in the first place.
Take, for example, John’s account of Jesus traveling through Samaria.
John 4:3-4 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria.
Jesus was on His way from Judea to Galilee. The shortest, most direct route between the two was through Samaria. But Jews almost never went that way. That’s because the Jews had nothing but hatred and contempt for the Samaritans, and the Samaritans wholeheartedly returned the sentiment.
Samaritans were a mixed race, descendants of Jews and Gentiles who had been imported during the Assyrian (722 BC) and Babylonian (586 BC) conquests. Jews considered them half-breeds, and would have nothing to do with them. Samaria was on the west side of the Jordan River. So, when traveling between Judea and Galilee, a good Jew would actually cross over to the east side of the Jordan, going way out of his way, to avoid polluting himself by stepping onto the soil of Samaria.
But Jesus went there. Notice the wording of John 4:4. It says He needed to go through Samaria. Certainly it was more convenient to go through Samaria, but why did He need to do so?
To my mind, there are two intertwined reasons. First, Jesus had a divine appointment with a certain woman who would be coming to Jacob’s well in Samaria on that day. Although she didn’t know it yet, her encounter with Jesus would change her life, and the life of her Samaritan village, forever.
But in keeping that divine appointment with a woman of a race that was utterly despised by the Jews, Jesus demonstrated something no Christian should ever miss.
Jesus refused to play into the whole system of racial hatred! He was not about to let racial or ethnic prejudice get in the way of the Gospel.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
Jesus was demonstrating that God’s love, and the gospel that expresses that love, are for everyone. Jew, Gentile, black, white – it doesn’t matter. God sees all of us the same.
Stay away from Samaria because of the ethnicity of the people there? Not Jesus!
Jesus refused to play the prejudice game, and so must we. Christians should never be caught looking down on someone, talking bad about someone, treating one set of people worse than another, based on their race or ethnicity, or their family, or where they come from, or how they talk. And we must never go along with other people when they do it.
If racial and ethnic divisions don’t matter to Christ, how can we who claim to be His representatives on earth, allow them to matter to us?
Jesus broke the code of prejudice. In fact, He completely shattered it. It’s time for Christians everywhere to stop trying to put those evil pieces back together.