“Racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America, and hate in America—especially for African-Americans—is living every day.” This is how LeBron James responded after someone spray-painted a racist slur on the front gate of his Los Angeles home.
This atrocity is not why James should be in the news today. Although his Cleveland Cavaliers lost last night to the Golden State Warriors in the first game of the NBA Finals, James led his team with twenty-eight points.
Earlier in this year’s playoffs, he passed Michael Jordan as basketball’s all-time postseason scoring leader. The list of his records and achievements in the game is staggering. LeBron James is not only one of the greatest athletes in history—he is also one of the greatest sports ambassadors in the world.
If he can be victimized for his skin color, anyone can. James is right: “No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough, and we’ve got a long way to go for us as a society and us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America.”
America’s founding document states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Yet, to illustrate the conundrum and scandal that is racism in American history, these words of equality were written by a slave owner.
Eighty-seven years passed before the Emancipation Proclamation freed more than three million enslaved people in the South. One hundred and eighty-eight years passed before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race. The struggle for true equality continues—African-American friends tell me that what happened to LeBron James is no surprise to them.
Racism is a deadly cancer on the soul of humanity. But there is hope.
In two days, Christians around the world will observe Pentecost Sunday. On the first Pentecost after Easter, Jesus’ small band of followers “were all together in one place” (Acts 2:1). Then the Holy Spirit empowered them so miraculously that they began to share the gospel in languages they had never learned.
People from fifteen different nationalities were gathered in Jerusalem. Shocked that they heard the message in their own languages (vv. 11–12), more than three thousand of them came to faith in Jesus that day (v. 41).
From then to today, people spanning the spectrum of ethnicities and cultures have chosen to follow Jesus. In heaven, we will gather with believers “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9). That’s because for Christians “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
How would you feel if one of your children was the target of a racist attack? That’s how our Father feels about LeBron James and every person victimized because of their God-given ethnicity. Now he wants us to reflect his heart to our broken culture.