Black Christian Love for Asian American Image-Bearers
The global Coronavirus pandemic has brought out the best of many image-bearers. Nations are sharing advice, best practices, and resources with each other. Healthcare professionals daily risk their lives on the frontlines as they work around the clock to protect public health. Multiple leaders in government are working hard to inform their residents and citizens with the necessary information to help slow the spread of the virus. Many churches, non-profits, and everyday image-bearers have thought of creative, wise, and safe ways to provide support to their members and communities with prayers, sacrificial giving, and by their efforts to care for the most vulnerable populations among us in socially responsible ways.
Sadly, though, there are also stories of anti-Asian racism due to the reported origins of the Coronavirus. In a recent document, created and produced by a collaboration of diverse Asian American Christian leaders, the authors discuss the rise of anti-Asian racism during the pandemic.
As Black Christians, the New Testament offers us helpful instructions as to how we can love well and stand in solidarity with Asian image-bearers against anti-Asian racism.
Freedom in Christ to Love Our Neighbors
Paul wrote Galatians to Gentile Christians to dissuade them from turning away from his gospel, which focuses on Jesus’ death and resurrection (Gal. 1:1, 4; 3:13), to another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9; 5:2-5). Paul reminds them Jesus died to free sinners from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), from slavery to sin (Gal. 3:19-4:31), from the present evil age (Gal. 1:4), and from all of its seductive powers of evil (Gal. 4:9). Consequently, Christians are not free to do whatever we want (Gal. 5:17). Rather, we are free from our previous yoke of spiritual slavery to be voluntary servants of Spirit-empowered and sacrificial love for one another and our neighbors (Gal. 3:15-6:10).
Christians must not, therefore, fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). Flesh and Spirit have absolutely nothing in common because they oppose each other (Gal. 5:17). Those who sow to the flesh will reap eternal destruction, but those who sow in the Spirit will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:8). The flesh is both enslaved to and within the realm of the present evil age (cf. Gal. 1:4), because the present evil age is an age of imprisonment to the elementary principles of the world (Gal. 3:22-23; 4:1-3, 8-9).
Slavery to the present evil age is a powerful theme in Galatians, but it’s not the last word for Christians because of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Gal. 1:1, 4: 3:13). Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (Gal. 1:4; 3:1-29; 5:16-26). Jesus redeemed/liberated us from the law’s curse (Gal. 3:13), so that we would inherit the blessing of the Spirit (Gal. 3:14) and become heirs of the blessing of salvation (Gal. 3:15-5:1). Different and beautiful complexions, accents, tongues, tribes, peoples, and nations become one by faith in Christ because the Spirit of God’s Son dwells in us (Gal. 3:14, 28; 4:5-7; also Rev. 5:9).
The Spirit compels us to live responsibly and wisely in community with real people in a broken world and to serve one another in love (Gal. 5:13-14, 22; 6:10). Christian love does not commit evil against neighbors (Rom. 13:10). This love is a gospel-imperative because a fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal. 5:13-14, 16, 22; also John 13:34; 14:15; Rom. 12:9; 13:8-10; 1 Cor. 13:1-14:1; 16:14; Gal. 2:11-14; Eph. 5:2; Phil. 1:27; Col. 3:14).
Black Christians should love both one another and all fellow Christians (Gal. 5:14, 16, 22). We should also love non-Christians, whenever it’s possible (Gal. 6:10). By loving all neighbors (Gal. 5:13-14, 22; 6:10), we fulfill the entire law of Christ (Gal. 5:14; 16, 6:2; cf. Lev. 19:18).
Black Christian Love for Asian American Neighbors
As redeemed members of a historically marginalized group, Black Christians should be eager to love Asian American image-bearers with Spirit-empowered love (Gal. 5:20-21, 24, 26). We should walk in obedience to the gospel and in step with the Spirit with Asian American image-bearers because “those in Christ have crucified the power of the flesh with its sinful passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24). Numerous Asian American image-bearers are standing with their Black, Brown, and White neighbors against racism and racial injustice. Many Asian American neighbors are also daily risking their lives for Asian, Black, Brown, and White image-bearers on the frontlines in the fight against the Coronavirus.
As Black Christians, our words and actions against racism must always be in accordance with Scripture and the gospel of Jesus Christ, consistent with the freedom we have in the Spirit, and in step with the fruit of love that he creates in our lives because of Christ’s death for our sins and his resurrection from the dead (Gal. 1:1, 4; 3:13-14; 5:13-26). Christ’s exemplary, sacrificial, and transformative love for us should create an aftershock of love in us to love well our Asian American neighbors (Gal. 2:20).
A Few Practical Next Steps
- If you have Asian friends or neighbors, ask them how they’re doing and whether there are practical ways you can encourage them.
- When you hear or see image-bearers refer to or treat Asian American image-bearers in disrespectful or racist ways, speak up. Lovingly and graciously help folks understand the devil will use racist rhetoric to create an unsafe environment for our Asian neighbors.
- Pray for our Asian neighbors.
- Learn more about the history of anti-Asian racism and ways we can push against this darkness with the word of God, with the gospel of Jesus Christ, with common-grace, and with common sense in the power of the Spirit.
Many thanks to Ms. Jennifer J. Guo (Ph.D. Student in Christianity & Judaism in Antiquity at the University of Notre Dame) for reading this piece and providing thoughtful feedback.
The term “flesh” in Galatians can refer to human-beings (Gal. 1:16) or to one’s human-existence (Gal. 2:20). However, flesh in Galatians also represents a “power,” “domain,” or “realm” in contrast to the “power,” “realm,” or “domain” of the Spirit. Flesh is a symbol of the old age (Gal. 1:4), and the Spirit represents the new age in Christ (Gal. 3:1-14; 6:15).