Red and Yellow, Black and White

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This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood. Genesis 10:1

Do you remember the Christian children’s song “Jesus Loves the Little Children”? He loves all the people of the world, red, yellow, black, white, and brown. They are all precious in His sight. But one of the consequences of growing up in a race- and color-conscience society is that many people either have a sense of pride or a sense of shame regarding their race. Race and color give people a sense of identity.

Let’s explore the biblical history of race. In Genesis 9, a drunken Noah pronounced a curse upon his grandson, Canaan, after Noah’s son Ham exposed Noah’s nakedness. “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.” Some Americans have misinterpreted and misapplied this prophesy so that black Americans have been physically, spiritually, and emotionally treated as inferior and subjected to a history of slavery. However, Noah’s prophecy actually contained an outline of human history.

Genesis 9 and 10 tells us that the entire earth was populated from the sons of Noah, and the table of nations came from the descendants of Japheth, Ham, and Shem. These great family lines are associated with Indo-Europeans (Japheth); the Semitic peoples (Shem), which include Hebrews and Arabs; and the peoples of Africa, Native America, and South Sea Islanders (Ham). (For instance, the descendants of Ham are associated with North Africa in Psalm 78:51; 105:23,27; 106:22; and 1 Chron. 4:40.)

Each of the three families made significant contributions to mankind. The Shemites gave us religions including the Bible and the Koran. The Hamites gave us metallurgy, weaving, agriculture, architecture, medicine, and other technologies; while the Japhethites contributed philosophy but also developed Ham’s inventions. Ham’s descendents included the Babylonians and Sumerians, who founded the first two great empires.

Every racial group in the history of mankind contributed significantly to culture.

George Washington Carver, a Christian black man, was born into slavery in Missouri, and he became an inventor and botanist who taught at the Tuskegee Institute. He developed more than 100 products made from the peanut. So, true to Noah’s prophecy, the descendants of Ham have been the great “servants” of mankind by their inventions and contributions.

Walter Harvey

PONDER: “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” Acts 17:26

* * *

Bonhoeffer in Harlem

Bonhoeffer

On April 9, 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed at the age of 39. He is known as one of the premier theologians of the 20th century. His book, The Cost of Discipleship, has influenced many Christians, causing them to follow Jesus in a deeper way. Although Bonhoeffer already had two doctoral degrees and an appointment to teach theology in Berlin, he stated that he did not truly understand what it meant to follow Jesus until 1930, sitting under the teaching of Pastor Adam Clayton Powell at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York.

During his seminary studies, one of his classmates, Albert Fisher, opened his eyes to the issues of racism in America. Bonhoeffer traveled with Albert to his home in Alabama during his semester break in 1930. While traveling back to New York, Bonhoeffer wrote to his brother about his observations:

The separation of whites from blacks in the southern states really does make a shameful impression. In railways that separation extends to even the tiniest details…. The way
the southerners talk about Negroes is simply repugnant, and in this regard the pastors are no better than the others…. It is a bit unnerving that in a country with so inordinately many slogans about brotherhood, peace, and so on, such things continue completely uncorrected.

These relationships and experiences would greatly impact Bonhoeffer’s reaction to the Nazi regime in Germany. Bonhoeffer came from the privileged class of Berlin; but while in Harlem, he had the opportunity to see the world from the perspective of the outcasts, the powerless, and the oppressed, observing that one’s relationship with Jesus grows in the midst of personal suffering. He saw Christians who engaged with their faith in every area of their lives, placing their lives under the rule of the gospel.

Upon his return to Germany, he recognized distortions in German Christianity and spoke against the Nazi regime. He gave up a bright future in the academic world and chose to stand with the racial outcasts both in America and Germany. For that, he paid with his life.

Jan Keddie

[Special extra: the life story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer – VIDEO]

Comments welcome below.

Past days readings HERE.

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17 thoughts on “Red and Yellow, Black and White”

  1. Good devotional. It’s about time we start talking more about racial disparities in US and what can be done to rectify this problem.

  2. In Waukesha County, it is the fear and dislike of undocumented aliens (mostly Hispanic) that bring out the “ugly” in us. How do we, as Christ’s Ambassadors fight that? Truth is…many have lived and worked here most of their lives. The would make good citizens. Can we find a way to embrace them? We were once strangers and aliens to God, but He found a way to make us His Own.

  3. Thanks Elmbrook for sharing this 30 day devotional. It poses new challenges and it should provoke action in all of us.
    Martin Luther King’s dream to someday live in a nation where his children will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character almost seems like an impossible dream. But we know that “…with God all things are possible” Mathew 19:26. As Pastor Harvey states in this devotional; “Every racial group in the history of mankind contributed significantly to culture.” Let’s work together to end racial disparity by living Christ-like lives and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

  4. It is my prayer that we all come to the knowledge of the truth, that we are all one people, there is no black, white, yellow or any other colour in the eyes of God. It is time we see each other as God sees us, and put away race and other man made philosophy, and love each other as we are meant to. It starts with us.

  5. It is time for believers in Christ to “wake up” from the nightmare of inferiority, superiority and difference and see that we are already “one in Christ Jesus”. It is time to live it out God’s dream of every tribe, nation, language and people. (Reve. 7:9)

    1. Well said. I’m sick of the hypocrisy of those whp claim to love Jesus and are christian but have so much hate for those who are different from them.

  6. I’m so so very proud Elmbrook is committing extended time and resources to discuss these topics! I think its so important our community is dedicated to learning and engaging in discussions about topics like racial reconciliation. Seeing the differences as displaying different facets of God’s creativity and celebrating those while living in unity under the fact we are all his children. Sacrificing for one another as brothers and sisters. Mm, beautiful stuff! Thank you!!

  7. One thing about hos story that stood out to me was our relationship with Christ grows through personal suffering. It’s ashamed that today people still have hatred for others different from them. Even from people who claim to be christians. For example,in the south, there were pastors who were members of the kkk hanging innocent people. To me, how can they call themselves christians when thet hurt and kill other people whom they deem inferior.

  8. Helping to stop racial disparity start at home, teaching our kids to be open, kind and respectful to others races.
    I am Hispanic and at fist it was hard for me even to assist at Elmbrook, I felt like “illegal” to be there.
    ( Although I am a Citizen)
    I am happy to see God and Elmbrook church working hard for a change.

    #todossomoshijosdeDios.

  9. A very interesting piece, thanks !

    Dietrich was an extremely brave man. I really liked Pastor Mel’s video and left some comments there.

    In UK I saw some racism in the 60s but nothing like there was in the US or South Africa. Nowadays, the UK seems very tolerant of all races and nationalities which are well integrated. There are still some areas that could be better, but there are good examples of what can be done. We need to ensure that all people are equal and that none are “more equal than others” (George Orwell). This needs to be an honest balance and not go too far in either direction.

    Yes, every person, nationality, race and culture has something good to offer and we need to encourage and respect that fact. Everyone should spend time in other countries and discover other ways of thinking and doing.

    Martin Luther King Jr was a very wise and intelligent man. We can learn a lot from his words e.g.

    – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
    – “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
    – “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
    – “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

  10. Michael gravelle

    Racism must be totally obliterated before real freedom can be totally lived, but it must first start with YOU!

  11. Racism should end. Beauty should reign. Skin color, hair type, cultural differences, gender-specific traits, whatever, should be celebrated as a child created by and of God. Like a box of crayons, it takes all of them to make the picture stand out. Racism is a cheap shot. It is used as an excuse to not look deeper to figure out what really bothers a person. Imagine if the soldier (African-American) who rescued the two policemen (White) from the ruins of the World Trade Center ruins had been racist? Or if the firemen (White) in the stairwell who found the woman (Black) who just couldn’t walk any further, hadn’t carried her down to that one section of stairway that saved them just before the tower collapsed. The news escalates racism, but rarely celebrates the good that the majority of people do for each other. A police officer does wrong and it makes front page news, but how many police officers do a great job every day that we never hear about. Imagine what the news (TV/radio) would be like if you made the front pages for doing good and the back pages for being uncivil. Fear mongering contributes to this violent culture. And FEAR works throughout all races…most not based on fact, but on what is heard or said by others; rarely actual experiences. It is just as hard for each person to drive into another percieved community where there is lack of understanding and fear. Isn’t God supposed to be with us? or are we “Ye of so little faith?”

  12. Lord God, forgive my judgments against others and place in my heart Your generosity. Give me the grace to forgive other’s mistakes. Lord, please heal the wounds of the past, and set Your church free from division, dissension, deception & manipulation…
    Father, make me aware of those who need caring, fellowship and discipleship to help end the division in the church. I ask for the wisdom to know how to love as you love. I want to approach every relationship in my life with You in mind…
    Lord Jesus, I pray for racial reconciliation, and ask that true healing begin in the church, so that the world can see how, under Your banner, true unity can be found, Lord please crush the enemy’s attempts to frustrate those who have committed themselves to the mission of reconciliation…
    Holy Spirit, guide Your people into understanding, acceptance and love between all the races in the Body of Christ, so the world can easily identify Your disciples…
    Lord God, the season of obedience is here…

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