Donald Sterling is the owner (for now) of the NBA Los Angeles Clippers. This past week, a recording of a conversation between Sterling and his almost-50-years-younger mistress surfaced, setting news networks, the sports world, and social media ablaze. Sterling has never professed to be a model of morality. But no one expected to hear what he said on the recording.
The conversation was prompted by a photo of Sterling’s then-girlfriend, V. Stiviano, with NBA Hall of Famer, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. When Sterling saw the photo it struck a nerve, prompting him to confront his girlfriend. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation between Sterling and V. Stiviano:
Stiviano: I don’t understand, I don’t see your views. I wasn’t raised the way you were raised.
Sterling: Well then,….don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people, and don’t come.
Stiviano: Do you know that you have a whole team that’s black, that plays for you?
The NBA waited patiently as NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, decided Sterling’s punishment. That punishment was handed down today (4/29). From Deadspin.com:
“Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been BANNED FOR LIFE from associating with the Clippers and the NBA, and fined the maximum of $2.5 million. In addition, Commissioner Silver said he has asked the Board of Governors to force a sale of the Clippers.”
Sterling has never professed to be a Christian. So we shouldn’t expect him to live like one. However, this story brings up a good question: Does the poison of racism still live in Christian life today?
You bet it does.
“In the 1960’s, as black students sought to integrate Atlanta’s churches, our leadership mobilized lookout squads who took turns patrolling the entrances lest any black ‘troublemakers’ appear. I still have one of the cards they printed up to give to any civil rights demonstrators who might appear. The card stated: ‘Believing your motives to be foreign to God’s Word, we cannot extend a welcome to you and respectfully request you leave the premises quietly. Scripture does NOT teach ‘the brotherhood of man….”
Wow. Just wow. (I would’ve loved to have been the one to break the news to that church that Jesus wasn’t white.)
Racism is nothing new. (Think: Hebrew slaves in Ancient Egypt) Moreover, Jesus, a Jew, grew up in an extremely racist culture. “Jews do not associate with Samaritans,” the woman at the well told Him. (John 4)
I follow Larry Elder on Twitter. He’s a brilliant speaker and writer. Elder (who is African-American) recounted a conversation with a friend of his. Wanting to help the world understand how devastating this sin has been throughout history – how deeply this root goes, Elder said:
“My friend did not know that slavery has occurred on every continent except Antarctica. Europeans enslaved other Europeans. Asians enslaved Asians. Africans enslaved other Africans. Arabs enslaved other Arabs. Native Americans even enslaved other Native Americans… People of every race and color were enslaved — and enslaved others.”
Sadly, outside of disgustingly newsworthy soundbites like the one here by Sterling, we hear very few sermons from North American pulpits about what the Bible says about racism. Considering the state of the issue within our nation, that needs to change.
The Bible says,
Rev. 5:9-10 – And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from EVERY tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Gal. 3:28 – 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.
Acts 10:34-35 – So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God does not show favoritism, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
1 Samuel 16:7 – The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
“By this all will know you are my disciples, of you love one another.” (John 13:35)
And Paul wrote,
For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)
This the Bible makes crystal clear: racism should never be found among the Body of Christ. It is destructive and heinous because it destroys the very soul of a person.
As NYT best-selling author, Eric Metaxas, rightly wrote:
“Like my heroes Wilberforce & Bonhoeffer, I see racism as the antithesis of the love of Jesus for all. So White Nationalism is satanic.”
Imagine for a haunting moment if God was racist, or bigoted. He sends His only begotten Son to die for mankind – with one caveat. He tells His Son: “When you come back to heaven, “Don’t bring white people.”
Instead, Jesus (God with skin on) stood up and shouted, “If ANYONE thirsts, let him come to me and drink!” (John 7:37)
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick