Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Southern California addressed racism in his sermon in the wake of the deadly ambush of police officers following the shooting deaths of African Americans, describing seven attitudes to racism and identifying the one which Christians should have.
"Our nation is desperate for healing… and the Church cannot be silent," Warren told the congregation in a recent sermon he delivered after a shooting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana left three police officers dead.
The megachurch pastor quoted Titus 2:11: "God has revealed his grace to save the whole human race."
God has never made a person He doesn't love, Warren stressed. "Race was God's idea," he said. "Racial reconciliation is at the heart of the Gospel."
How you and I treat other people matters deeply to God, he added, quoting 2 Chronicles 19:7, ". . . the Lord our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes."
The word for "justice" and "righteousness" is the same in the Bible, he explained, and acknowledged, "There is still injustice against black Americans … and other minority groups."
Partiality is an old English word for racism and prejudice, the pastor said. This means treating one group of people better than another group, he explained, adding that the Church must not be silent when racism is practiced.
He said there are seven different attitudes towards racism.
Warren defined a "racist," the worst of all, as someone who "hates another race or bullies another race or discriminates against another race."
There are also "bigots," just slightly better than the racists, the pastor said, defining a racist as someone who "believes stereotypes about a particular race, and belittles other people."
And then there is an "avoider," Warren continued. "An avoider is somebody who … is uncomfortable around people who aren't like" him, he explains.
Then, there are people who are "insensitive," the pastor added, explaining that such persons are insensitive to what hurts others.
There are also those who are "apathetic," Warren went on to say. And they are people who just don't care about racism.
But a follower of Jesus Christ has to care, the pastor underlined.
Then, looking at the positive side, Warren said there are those, who are "sensitive." They are "kind and inclusive," he explained. But this attitude is not the best, he added.
God wants us to be a "reconciler," someone who is an "active bridge builder," and reflects biblical values.
The Bible says that if you are a Christian, you must be a reconciler, Warren told the congregation. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God," he quoted Matthew 5:9.
Warren also said there are four reasons why God hates prejudice. One, racial prejudice questions God's creation. Two, racial prejudice is a sign of ignorance. Three, racial prejudice disobeys the Great Commandment. Four, racial prejudice is a serious sin.
"Racism is the most common sin in the world," said Warren, who has traveled around the world. However, law is not the solution as it cannot change hearts, he clarified. People can change with the Gospel, and therefore the Church has to play its role, he added.
There are three steps Christians can take to deal with racism, Warren continued.
One, "we must see people as God does," he said, quoting 1 Samuel 16:7, "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
Two, we must change the way we listen, by listening to everyone with respect, he added. Prejudice is a result of our failure to listen to people, he explained.
Three, he concluded, we must love everybody the way Jesus does, quoting John 15:12, where Jesus says, "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."