Our beloved Bible gave us the Great Commandment, found in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It is significant that these words are found in all three of the Synoptics, which indicates that they are the heart and soul of the Christian faith. In all three Gospels, Jesus the Christ is asked, “What is the most important commandment?” The Pharisees were trying to stop Jesus in his tracks, so in asking this question, they hoped he would answer it in a way that indicated either his knowledge or ignorance of the Law. In each Gospel account, Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
It is hardly a difficult lesson and seems quite clear, yet many white Christians, using their sacred Bible, seemed for the most part to have been unable, and in many instances unwilling, to abide by it. In the practice of racism, Jesus seemed absent, his words ignored. It was puzzling. There was one Bible, one set of Gospels, and one Jesus, yet in the grip of racism, there were two radically different ways of internalizing and practicing – or not practicing – the same words.
From “With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America” by Susan K. Williams Smith