Hatred has been with us ever since Adam and Eve sinned. From the first civilization, one way hatred has manifested itself is through racism. Because of this, an essential aspect of Christian parenting is equipping our children bring the love of Jesus and His gospel into this world filled with racial hatred.
The first Christians were called to love one another regardless of the color of their skin or their cultural background. “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 one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greek, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
Do you want your child to shine with the love of Jesus, pushing back against the racism that fills our world? Here are five essential action steps to prepare your children to make a difference.
- Teach them that God made only one race. The Bible tells us that God created only two people, Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:27). We are all descendants of those two people. Yes, we now have beautifully different skin colors, cultures, national backgrounds, and languages, but there is only one race – human! Because there is only one race, and every person is made in the image of God, we all share equal value, worth, and dignity.
- Pray with them for a heart of compassion. Racial hatred has slaughtered millions, started wars, shattered families, destroyed relationships, and broken hearts. Racism is so powerful that it can ripple through generations. For those who have not experienced racism, either personal or cultural, it is almost impossible to describe. Whether your children have experienced racism or not, pray with them for God’s heart of compassion for all people, especially those who are being mistreated. Ask God to give everyone in your family the heart of Jesus toward the world. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
- Encourage them to listen. Most of us are quick to speak and slow to listen. We want to make our point. God calls His children to be quick to hear, and slow to speak (James 1:19). Becoming a minister of racial healing requires intentional listening. Do your children live in a place where they share the majority skin color and culture? Encourage them to listen to those who have different-colored skin, speak another language, or come from a different faith background. Do your children have minority skin color or religious beliefs? They equally share in the ministry of racial healing through listening.
- Train them to never make a decision based on the color of someone’s skin. Martin Luther King Jr. famously dreamed of a day where his children would not be judged by their skin color, but by the content of their character. Train your children that the color of a person’s skin should never affect how they treat them. They should not treat someone better or worse, or judge them positive or negatively, based on their skin color.
- Challenge them to act with courage. Facing racial hatred requires courage, privately and publicly. Challenge your children to not shy away from engaging with people who look different than they do. Challenge them to stick up and stand up for anyone who is being mistreated. Ask your children, “In what ways do you see people mistreated, or shown favoritism because of their skin, culture, or language?” Use those conversations to help your children with practical ways to speak and respond. One of the best ways to encourage your kids to act with courage is to demonstrate courage in your own life. Do your children see you crossing racial, cultural, and religious boundaries to share the love of Jesus with others?
Here is a closing warning and encouragement. If your children push back against hatred and racism with the light of Scripture and the gospel of Jesus, that hatred may turn against them. But take heart! Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in Heaven!” (Matthew 5:11-12)