It is a serious sin – The sin of prejudice “makes [God] mad,” Warren says. In James 2:9, it says those who show partiality sin and that God’s law condemns such a person as a lawbreaker. As he’s traveled in the world, Warren has come to see prejudice as the most prevalent sin.
The Christian Response to Racism and Prejudice
Overcoming this sin of partiality, Warren believes, is at the heart of the gospel. Put another way, “racism is a problem of sin, not of skin.”
The remedy for partiality, Warren believes, is learning to see people as God does. It’s difficult because we don’t do this naturally. It’s something we’re going to have to learn and ask God for help with. But Scripture shows us it’s possible. Warren gave the example of Peter having his mind changed. Has God shown you, like he did Peter, that “no race is inferior or unclean?” Warren asked.
God’s plan to bring people together is the church, Warren believes. “We are called to model unity, reconciliation and fellowship for the rest of the world.” When the world is divided, he argued, the church is called to be united (1 Corinthians 12:13, 27)
No one should understand the necessity of all the parts of a body or family better than the church, Warren implied. He explained that as people, we find our identity in relationships. Warren believes there is a crisis of identity throughout the world right now because of division and the consequent breakdown of relationships. “When relationships are broken, people don’t know who they are.”
Believers in Christ should have a very firm sense of identity. If you’ve been saved, Warren said, your primary identity is a member of God’s family. “I have more in common with a black female African Christian than I would with a white American male,” Warren explained. “I have more in common with those who are a part of the family of God than I have with people of my own nationality, my own race, my own economic status…because those things aren’t going to last. I’m not always going to be an American, but I’m always going to be in God’s family for trillions and trillions of years.”
While this sense of identity and unity should be the hallmark of Christianity, Warren acknowledged this isn’t always the case. He addressed those who have “been treated unjustly because of your race, because of your age, because of your heritage, because of your sex, because of your economic status,” and told them: “I want you to know that you have a Savior who understands. He was treated unjustly too.”
The sermon is a part of Warren’s series on “Principles for Living Through a Pandemic”, which uses the themes in the book of James as a reference point.