Steve Munsuang has thought and struggled within himself, finally accepting the fact that regardless of skin colour and country of origin, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we are all just as capable as each other and have all been guilty of racism at one point or another.
Human nature is deeply flawed as we have all fallen short of God’s glory.
I remember a conversation I had with a friend [when I was a social worker] who is originally from Sudan and is now a citizen in Australia. He shared with me his experience of visiting America. While there, he visited a neighbourhood where he was treated with unwarranted hostility – much to his surprise as they shared his skin colour. When he asked for the reason why he was treated with such hostility, they answered, “You sold us to the white men!”
Yes, racism exists even within the same ethnic group and country. I am able to relate to my friend from Sudan because I have personally been treated with partiality just because I’m from a minority ethnic tribe within my own country of origin. I have experienced discrimination because I’m from a poverty stricken country and simply because I am of South-East Asian descent.
The wisdom behind Martin Luther King Jr.’s often quoted “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character” freed me from my own prejudice and predicament. The words of a black preacher from 1963 changed the mindset of a young man in Burma, focusing him on the content of his character rather than his ethnic tribe, skin colour and his presumed predicament as a minority and a Christian.
While postmodernists believe that group identity such as sex, gender, race, country of origin, skin colour comes before the individual, as a Christian, I believe that the Scripture is clear in its teaching. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” [NLT]
Racism is a reality that has been woven into the fabric in all societies. While some are not aware of their own capacity for racism, there are others who are indifferent as it does not affect them. But for many who are deemed or considered different by the majority, racism is a daily reality.
If we are to progress as a community in our race relations, I believe that a change of heart is essential and fundamental in addressing the issue of injustice and racism. I also believe that we cannot ignore the contribution of a black man identified as Simon of Cyrene and his role in alleviating the suffering and burden of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Of all the people witnessing the suffering of Christ, it was Simon of Cyrene who was selected to help the Lamb of God. Simon may have been forced based on the colour of his skin but even in that predicament, he was able to take part in the suffering of Christ, his deed never to be forgotten and believers are all indebted to his contribution.
As we remember the lives lost and advocate for justice for all, let us as Christians remember that Jesus Christ is our ultimate virtue and that what the world needs most is to see the Christ in us.
The ultimate Christian virtue does not come by being virtuous, but rather in the virtue that Christ imputed to all believers at the cross.
Only Christ has the power to change hearts of stone to hearts that are capable of loving God and loving others as much as himself or herself. We are to lift up Christ in our thoughts and actions so that Christ can draw all of mankind unto Himself who is the ultimate truth, the ultimate way and the ultimate life. Only in Christ we can truly be of one accord.
Currently, I assist in pastoring a church where people may say that we are beautifully colour coded but the reality is, within us and beneath our skin, we are all one and all the same because we all share the same Spirit that lives in us and we’re all heirs of God’s eternal kingdom.
Only in Christ, we can hope for justice and healing for all of mankind.