Yesterday was the 61st anniversary of Jackie Robinson's debut in the major leagues. On the 50th anniversary of that great moment, I wrote the following article for publication in the Fairview Church of Christ (Childress, Texas) bulletin.
Just Thinking (04-15-1997)
April 15, 1947 was an important day in American history. Jackie Robinson played his first regular season games as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was, as you know, the first black man to be allowed to play in the major leagues. His entry into the sport played a major role in the eventual effort to desegregate American society.
Sadly, our nation was divided from the time of its inception until late this century. In some ways, it is still divided--a division determined by the color of one's skin. For many decades this division was so blatant in the institution of slavery. And for over a hundred years after the Civil Way this division was seen in the denial of rights to people of color. There was a time, not so long ago, that blacks were denied the right to vote, were not allowed to eat in restaurants, were forced to sit at the back of buses, were openly ridiculed as being "sub-human," and forced to endure many other forms of racial persecution.
During the time of slavery, and even in the century that followed, churches ignored the racial turmoil that tore at the country. Churches even became accomplices in this racial struggle. Some congregations refused to allow blacks to enter their buildings, or forced them to sit in a segregated balcony. Most churches refused to defend the plight of blacks by remaining silent to the sins of racial prejudice.
Unconscionably many Christians had ignored, and in some ways still ignore, Paul's words to the Galatians: "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3.28 NRSV). this exhortation is echoed in Paul's correspondence to the Corinthian church: "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and we were all made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12.12-13).
Christianity is to be an inclusive enterprise. Christ died for all men and women, not just for those of a certain color or ethnicity. The love of God is colorblind. It is sin to regard another man as "sub-human" and to treat him as such. It is sin to hate another because of color and to relate to him with prejudice.
As God's children, we are called to reach out to everyone. We are to love without prejudice. The promise God made to Abraham declares this inclusiveness: "I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing . . . and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis 12.2-3).
May we be, as is the love of God--COLORBLIND!