The issue of racism due to the practice of slavery in our past has now come to the forefront in America. One preacher famously said that “America’s chickens have come home to roost.” I am convinced that such can only happen in a culture based on Judeo-Christian values.
Since the Judeo-Christian values of the West eventually brought about an end to slavery, it would behoove us to examine exactly what Scripture teaches about the practice. It turns out while Scripture does not condone slavery, neither does it unconditionally condemn it as it existed in New Testament times.
1 Corinthians 7:20 Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. 21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.
Paul teaches slaves not to be troubled by their station in life. But if we “can gain our freedom, do so”. Paul agrees that being a slave is not optimal for anyone. But gaining our freedom should not be our primary goal in life. Paul understands the real world—where there will rarely be “justice” or “equality” or “fairness”. Rather we must see ourselves as the Lord sees us. Even if we are a slave, we ought to see ourselves as the Lord’s freed person—as one who is freed from sin and its eternal judgment, free to enjoy a personal relationship with the One True God and to receive eternal life.
Paul even encourages slaves to obey their earthly masters in everything and with all their heart. Why? It is because even though we are slaves we are actually working for the Lord—and not for our human master. As such we will be receive an inheritance from the Lord as our eternal reward later in His kingdom. Whether slave or free, it is the Lord Jesus Christ we are serving and not man.
Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Therefore in the coming kingdom of God, some who were slaves on earth will be ruling over their former human masters, especially those who mistreated their slaves in violation of God’s law of love.
Thus we should not resort to actions that will displease God in an effort to gain our freedom in this life. Protests marred by violence, vandalism, looting, and arson are not pleasing to God. Rather let us obey and please God whatever our station in life, looking forward to our reward in the next life to come. “Although if we can gain our freedom, do so.”
Instead let us focus on Colossians 3…
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Written by someone from a minority race in the West many of which were mistreated in the past