When I was in first grade my mom took me and my two brothers to the supermarket. We lived close enough to walk to the store and as usual I was lagging behind. I was one of those kids who lived in my own world, being easily distracted while chasing butterflies. Anyway, as we got to the store I absentmindedly walked into a liquor store thinking it was the supermarket. I’ll never forget it. There was a middle-aged Caucasian woman standing behind the counter. She scowled at me, came from around the counter, pointed at the door and screeched, “Get outa’ here you filthy Mexican.” Needless to say, I got out of there. That was only one of many similar encounters I had with adults and other kids back then. Now I’m middle aged, but growing up as a Latino child I can say I stared real bigotry in the face. I share this with you so you can understand that I think I have a good understanding of the issue.
Now fast forward 30 years and you’ll find me at the Oakland Coliseum. Imagine 60,000 men gathered together, but not for football or baseball. We were there to pray, study, and worship. First, it was amazing to see how polite everyone was to each other and the workers at the stadium. You should have seen the concessionaires. Their eyes were as big as saucers and their jaws dropped to the ground. They were in shock as they moved about almost robotically, not believing what they were seeing and hearing. Here were 60,000 guys in straight lines patiently waiting their turn. When they got to the counter they would politely give their orders using words like “please” and “thank-you,” “sir,” and “ma’am.” An f-bomb could not be heard in the place. Or any other profanity, for that matter.
What truly amazed me though was that there were all ages of men, young and old and in between. There were all types, white collar, blue collar, rich and poor. And there were all colors and races of men: black, white, brown, Asian, and native American. In fact, an Indian Chief in full headdress, gave a war cry to start one part of the event. And we were all brothers! Every guy was smiling and every man was greeting me with “Hey Brother!” Like the concessionaires, I was in complete shock. I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. One of Promise Keeper’s prominent goals was “racial reconciliation.” So, you shouldn’t be surprised when I say that those two-days were incredibly healing for me.
Then, the great Oakland Raider center Jim Otto climbs the stage, grabs a mic, and says, “I’ve been in this stadium countless times. And I’ve heard 60,000 fans cheer for the Oakland Raiders. But I’ve never heard 60,000 men shout for The Lord Jesus, and I want to hear that now!” The next sound was literally awesome! And I mean awesome as defined by Webster, “1. Fear mingled with admiration or reverence; reverential fear.” It was a deafening roar, louder than a jet engine, louder than thunder. It was the loudest roar I have ever heard! I will never ever forget that moment as long as I live. I thought to myself, “This is Heaven! This is what Heaven will be like!”
In fact, the Bible says exactly that, “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.” – Rev 7:9 (NIV). As a man of color, I experienced some of that in Oakland during the summer of 1995.
And here is my point. I was a Pastor for 25 years. I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years. I now work as a Christian Apologist. And I can say with complete authority that it is an absolute impossibility for a true Christian to also be a white supremacist. Why? Because his Lord and Master is not! In fact, Jesus commanded His followers to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Mat 28:19). What was He saying? Essentially He was saying, “Everyone is welcome to follow Me. I love everyone – period! There is no distinction in my mind.” Jesus taught and set that example. Followers of Jesus do just that – we follow. We live the kind of life He lived. And He loved everyone.
The Apostle Paul even puts it more plainly when he says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28) If Paul were writing today he would have said, “There is no Black or White, Latino or Asian.” As Christians say all the time, “The ground is level at the foot of the cross.” And as that fellowship of 60,000 Christians “from all nations” shows, Paul was right. So, you’ll have to excuse me when I say I absolutely hate it when I hear people say they are Christians and then the spew out racial hatred. They are deceived at best, and frauds at worsts. They cannot be true followers of Jesus and filled with His Holy Spirit. It’s like someone who says they are a married bachelor. It’s an impossibility. They cannot be reading the Scriptures in humility and sincerity. In fact, those same Scriptures say there are three types of people. There are those who accept Jesus, those who reject Jesus, and those who accept a false Jesus – a Jesus of their own making (Mat 7:21-27). Any so-called Christian who is a racist is following a false Christ.
But let me also add this. I hate it as well when people say “all Christians are bigots.” I’ve met bigots and I’ve met Christians. And I personally have never met a Christian bigot! In fact, my life stands as a testimony to the opposite. And it would be funny if it were not so ironic to note, that saying all Christians are bigots is in itself an act of bigotry. This is religious bigotry and it’s directed at most conservative or Evangelical Christians. I am amazed how a culture that cries out for tolerance feels they can legitimately call Christians “backward uneducated bigots.” Movies regularly depict Christians as racist, irrational, and even disturbed. Comedians and the new atheists spew contempt, mock, and ridicule. In fact, the most famous atheist of our time has called on atheists and agnostics to “ridicule and show contempt for the religious and their doctrines.” And it’s all okay… Wow! So, I guess I’m back at square one. But instead of being a “dirty Mexican,” I’m now a “Christian bigot” myself. I don’t know… I guess all I can do is pray like I used to pray as a child. I’ll pray that this new bigotry will stop like the old did.