By Kate Ritchie
Today, we are painfully aware that horrific events of racial violence are not always able to hide in the shadows or be swept under the rug. You may be aware of racism because you are a victim of racism. But maybe your skin color as afforded you the privilege to not have those painful experiences personally.
As Christians, the recent events of the public death of George Floyd caught on camera have demanded a response from us. The world rages on every 24-hour news cycle and social media feed. What response does God and the Bible demand of Christian parents, who are raising the next generation?
We cannot wait to formulate the perfect response. We cannot hide for fear of saying the wrong thing when atrocities continue against our brothers and sisters. We must speak up, and we must be a part of the change. As parents, one of the most significant ways we can change society’s trajectory is how we raise our children to love the Lord and love their neighbors as themselves (Dt 6: 4-9). The truth is if you don’t train your kids how to think about race, someone else will.
So how can Christians begin to teach their children a Gospel-response to racism?
The New Testament letter of 1 John gives us a place to start:
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:16-18).
When we apply the principles of this text to our current situation, 1 John shows us that Christian parents must teach their children a Gospel-response to racism with deeds.
One way we teach our children to be disciples of Jesus is by modeling Christ-likeness. Our children watch and learn from their parents’ behavior. When it comes to our deeds as Christian parents, here are seven actions our children need to see:
- Show your children how to humbly listen to and empathize with those who have been victims of injustice (Ps 69:33; Pr 1:5).
- Show your children how to pray and intercede with compassion and sincerity for those harmed by racism (Pr 31:8-9; Isa 1:17; 58:6).
- Show your children how you examine and repent for things you have thought, said, done, or left undone concerning bias, prejudice, and racism (Ps 51).
- Show your children how to seek friendship with those who look different than you (Gal 3:26-29).
- Show your children how to defend and protect those who are being unjustly treated and victimized by racism (Ps 82:3).
- Show your children how to work for change in our communities and world to combat racism in our society (Mic 6:8).
- Teach your children racism is wrong according to the truth in God’s Word (Dt. 6: 4-9; James 2:8-9).
Secondly, 1 John also shows us Christian parents must teach their children a Gospel-response to racism with the truth of the Bible.
We cannot think that our actions alone will be enough to change a future generation. Parents must teach their children what God says through his Word about injustice and racism. Here are five truths from the Bible to teach your children:
- We must teach our children that God created all people of all races in his image. Humans are distinct and valuable because God made us all to bear and reflect his image to the world (Gen 1:26,31).
- We must teach our children that racism is a sin. The Bible says that God has known and formed us all, and planned our days before our first breath (Ps. 139). Every life has meaning and purpose endowed by the Living God. The Bible teaches that ending a sacred human life is the sin of murder. (Ex. 20:13), but goes further to say those who harbor anger and hate against another sinned grievously in their hearts (Mt 5:21-26; 1 Jn 3:15).
- We must teach our children that God has loved people of every race with an everlasting love. God has demonstrated his love for us by taking our place and dying for our sins. For all who would receive the sacrifice made by Jesus and believe in his name, they now have the right to be called sons and daughters of God (Jn 1:12).
- We must teach our children that Jesus was a Middle Eastern Jewish man (Mt 1:1-17). This means that if you are not a Jewish person from the Middle East, your Savior was from a different race than you. We cannot hate people from different races and claim to love Jesus.
- We must teach our children that Jesus will come again. He will end death, and he will wipe away every tear from every eye. This day is a colorful day of celebration, where people from every race, tribe, and language worship Jesus, who defeated sin and death once and for all. The Bible describes the scene in Revelation 7 as, “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'”
May God move us as Christian parents to raise the coming generation to display the kingdom of God in deed and truth. May our children see us modeling Christ-likeness to all people. May our children learn to live their lives in the truth of the Bible. And may we, with great hope, yearn for the day when we all worship Jesus face to face.
If you are looking for an excellent children’s book about God’s design for the differences in people, we would love to recommend to you, “God’s Very Good Idea: A True Story About God’s Delightfully Different Family” by Trillia Newbell. This book has beautiful words and illustrations. It has helped my family start some great conversations! Check it out!
About the Writer
Kate is a pastor’s wife and a mom of three boys. She is one of our writers here at Kids Faith Krate and has years of experience in children’s ministries.