Confronting Cultural Creeds: Race Matters (Luke 10:25-37)


Frederick Douglas (1818-95) was a prominent American abolitionist, author and orator.[1] He was born a slave on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and later escaped at age 20, going on to become a national anti-slavery activist. His writings and speaking were very influential to indict the institution of slavery.

Douglas made himself the most photographed American of the 19th century, sitting for 160 separate photographs (Abraham Lincoln sat for 126).[2] Douglass used his photographs to change the way viewers saw black people. He wrote, “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.” And that is what Douglass did with his portraits. He took contemporary stereotypes of African-Americans — that they are inferior, unlettered, comic and dependent — and turned them upside down. In almost all the photographs, Douglass is formally dressed, in black coat, vest, stiff formal collar and bow tie. He is a dignified and highly cultured member of respectable society. He never smiles to not give the impression that slaves were content in their institutionalized circumstances. Instead, Douglas often looks straight into the camera lens, which was unique back then due to modesty, and allows the viewer to see the man eye to eye and face to face. Frederick Douglas used art to re-train people how to see.

Seeing is not always simple. We can look at something without truly seeing. Today’s topic “Race Matters” is challenging because people see the topic from their own vantage point but not that of others. Personal experiences that are different are ignored because they are not seen, heard, or felt. In other words, when talking about race matters, we absolutely need a firm theological foundation, but we also need an ample measure of empathy.

Often today, people are listening to their echo chambers of rage, hate, and fear instead of relationships, empathy, and faith. And please know, the mention of empathy or grace is not code for being uncertain (foggy about facts or wishy-washy reality), soft on truth, or aiming for a compromised Christianity. Some people say that being winsome is not a biblical command and it doesn’t “win – some” but loses to culture.[3] But being winsome is not a cultural strategy but more a call to Christian character for honorably loving God and humbly loving people.[4]

Often today, people are listening to their echo chambers of rage, hate, and fear instead of relationships, empathy, and faith.

For this series of messages, we are looking at what Rebecca McLauglin titles “The Secular Creed,” which is: Black Lives Matter / Love Is Love / Gay Rights Are Civil Rights / Women’s Rights Are Human Rights / Transgender Women Are Women.[5] This book is an introduction to these topics. Honestly, there are times when I would want more said than the author does, but that is up to individuals/orgs to learn more about addressing each issue. In fact, that is precisely what I/we will be doing in relation to our ministries addressing sexual identity in upcoming volunteer training this summer.

  • Further, my sermons are informed but not reduced to this book. My aim is always to preach Scripture and not a topical agenda. It’s easy to pick a topic and talk about some verses about that topic and call that a sermon – even if some of those verses are taken out of context and there’s minimal emphasis on Jesus/gospel. That being said, the Bible does address many topics and it is helpful to understand them from a Christian worldview and gospel-perspective.
  • Each of these messages will confront popular & accepted thinking on certain topics. It is not necessary to agree with me but to align with God’s word. A group of people who views everything the exact same is a cult not a church. So, we unite around doctrinal essentials such as the gospel and God’s word, but we may differ in some non-essential beliefs or our approach to reaching outsiders. Overall, the Bible is the only authority for Christians, so whatever view you have must be supported by the Bible. If not, then your authority is made up on ever-changing opinions that don’t stand the test of time, cultures, and all nations.

Some people of faith examine this secular creed and want to crush the claims with a sledgehammer. Yet, the moral soil the world plants its ideas only exist because God created the dirt. The concepts of equality, love, and diversity start with God’s design not the world’s redefinition of them. Shovel away the Christian soil and you will find a sinkhole instead of solid ground.

Therefore, knowing God’s bedrock foundation in the Bible, we can approach secular creeds with a sharpie instead of a sledgehammer. We can empathize with people’s experiences and broken encounters in a Genesis 3 world. Yet, we also can offer them Revelation 21 redemptive truth because we know the Architect of eternity and Author of every story.

Today’s first creed is “Black Lives Matter” and we want to write in the words, “to Jesus.” We know that God’s church is made up of a great multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation who worship together in one body with many local expressions.

Black lives matter to Jesus.

Let’s dig into God’s word to explore the topic of “race matters.”

EXAMINE       Secular Creed: Race Matters (Luke 10:25-37)
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

Luke narrates a scene in Jesus’ ministry where a lawyer attempted to test Jesus. A lawyer, in this sense, was not for civil law but religious writings and education, like a scribe or Pharisee; an undisputed spiritual leader of Israel.[6] He questioned Jesus on the requirements for eternal life. On the surface, this is a great question but from the passage we can tell the man was insincere. His questions were like today’s news media “gotcha” approach, which attempts to create a response that can be taken in misleading or humiliating ways, and no answer is truly viable.

Ex. 1“Have you stopped beating your kids?”
If one answers no, then they obviously affirm a shocking crime. And while a yes answer appears positive, they have accepted the questioner’s accusation that they are a child abuser.
Ex. 2 “Why haven’t you denounced white-supremacy?”
Again, the questioner assumes the person is automatically guilty of racism without a sincere question or concern for the person’s true views.

Ex. 3 “How much do you hate people to not stay inside to keep from spreading potential germs or viruses?”

Ex. 4 Religious Gotcha Questions

  • Why do you not rest on the Sabbath? (Mt 12:2)
  • How can you cast out demons w/o being one? (Mt 12:24)
  • Will you perform another miracle sign? (Mt 12:38)
  • Why do your disciples not follow Pharisee laws like washing hands? (Mt 15:2)
  • Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar? (Mt 22:17; cf 17:24)
  • Is marriage forever and divorce frowned by God? (Mt 19:3)

In this passage, the lawyer wanted Jesus to uphold the Pharisee’s standards to receive God’s approval and entry into heaven; or the lawyer was hoping to catch Jesus in a theological misstep.

26  He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?”

Jesus is fully aware of the lawyer’s intent, so He returns the question with a question of His own for how the man understood the OT Law, and not just the oral tradition.[7] Further, Jesus is implying that the gospel/salvation was concealed in the OT but fully revealed in Him, or later the NT.

27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28  And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29  But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

The lawyer answers correctly from the Shema (Deut 6:5), and also Lev 19:18 with neighbor love. While Jesus affirmed the lawyer’s words, He exhorted the man to action – “Do it! Put feet to your faith.” Yet, the lawyer wanted further explanation. He wanted to focus on the trees while missing the forest. The Jews only recognized neighbors as those who were the same religious community, and excluded those outside of Israel.[8] And Jesus used this additional gotcha question as a means to revolutionize the understanding of neighbor.

30 Jesus replied,
Jesus used parables, earthly stories with heavenly meaning, to teach profound truth. Jesus’ use of parables showed He wasn’t just a lecturer to the elite but a teacher for everyone.

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’
36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37  He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

From Jerusalem to Jericho was 18 miles, with a steep elevation of 3,400’. Archaeologists believe the winding path was rugged hill country with scattered with caves.[9] Utilizing the dimensions of travel, according to a modern hiking assessment, this travel scores a 19/28 and as a difficult level described as only for people in excellent hiking condition.[10] In all, the area was known for covert criminals and robbers.

Along the way, a traveler is ambushed with his prized possessions taken, his body beaten and bloodied, and left for dead. The traveler is in a terrifying crisis in desperate need of help and rescue.

Three bystanders pass: a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan. The approach of a priest, a servant of God coming from the Jerusalem temple should have been a good fortune for the wounded traveler. However, the priest kept walking, likely due to ceremonial uncleanness laws (Lev 21:1; Nu 19:11).

The Levite, known as priest assistants to prepare sacrifices and cleanse temple vessels, also passed by the needy traveler. Certainly the Levite knew God’s commands to love neighbors, but persons in need raise questions and concerns. Further, neither the priest nor Levite knew if this was just a deceptive ploy to result in their fate becoming another sad statistic of the geography. So, the passing of the priest and the Levite erases hope from the wounded and needy traveler.

Yet, by chance – or providence, a Samaritan passed by the desperate and near dead traveler. At this point in the story, the Jewish crowd’s ears would have perked up. The presence of a Samaritan should have sealed this travelers fate. Because, the Jews were deeply antagonistic toward Samaritans (Jn 4:9), and they did all they could to segregate and vilify the Samaritans (Jn 8:48). Therefore, in the Jewish mindset, there was no possible way a Samaritan would offer a helping hand.

Yet, in this story, the Samaritan saw the desperate and near dead traveler not as an object to exploit, not as a subject to discuss, nor a problem to be avoided, but as a human being made in the image of God needing compassion. Compassion (σπλαγχνίζομαι) is inward affection that results in external action. Love for God demands love for those whom God loves. The Samaritan’s compassion was measured in several ways:

  • Healing touch. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. As humans, we are wired for interaction.[11] From birth until the day we die, we need physical contact – even those who are introverts need some level of contact! A person who is deprived of touch for long periods of time will experience traumatic health decline physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Some researchers say a person needs at least 4-7 meaningful forms of touch.
  • Sacrificial service. 34 Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. The Samaritan didn’t just stop the bleeding but offered next steps. He provided a path for the person to heal, recover, and grow.
  • Ongoing support. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ The Samaritan went beyond viewing the person as a project but as an ongoing relationship. He continued to care and offer assistance.

Then Jesus linked the story to real life:  36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”


What applications can we make from this text about the gospel and race?

Jesus connects saving faith with serving others.

I do not mean that good works, social justice, or serving people qualifies as saving faith. There is no one righteous and no amount of good works will enable someone to boast before God (Rom 3:10, 23; Eph 2:8-10). Salvation is not earned by anyone other than Jesus Christ, who offers it freely by grace through faith.

However, in this passage, Jesus is answering a person’s question about what it means to have eternal life with a parable about loving our neighbors – especially those who are different or internally dislike. Therefore, when it comes to the way we relate others, a sure sign of genuine faith and devotion to God is that we love others.

From the beginning, God created all people equally made in the image of God (Gen 1:27-28). Further, God made His people to be a blessing to all nations (Gen 12:1-3). The patriarchs of Christian faith: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses were all middle-eastern, and arising out of Egypt. And as the OT narratives unfold, we see people from many ethnicities woven into the storyline of the servant Savior of the world. And Matthew’s Gospel genealogy highlights non-Israelite ancestry to show the royal bloodline is not made from a distinct few but a diverse many.

The OT prophets emphasized neighbor love

  • Isaiah 58:6-8 breaking chains of wickedness, untying ropes and setting the oppressed free… sharing bread with the hungry, and bringing the poor and homeless into your house; clothing the naked, – for then your light will appear like dawn and recovery will return, and your righteousness will go before you, and the LORD’s glory will be your rear guard”
  • Amos 5:14-15 seek good and hate evil… establish justice”
  • Jesus’ life and ministry was about giving generously and sacrificially serving others (Mk 10:45).
  • Acts 10:28, 34 Jesus gave apostle Peter a vision “that I should not call any person common or unclean… that God shows not partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears [God] and does what is right is acceptable to Him.”
  • Yet, in Galatians 2:14-15 we note that Paul confronts Peter for withdrawing from Gentiles for fear of being associated with another ethnicity outside of Israelites. In essence, Paul reminded Peter that faith is not based on our ethnicity by birth or cultural customs, and neither should our fellowship with others be limited based on ethnicity and culture. In other words, looking at others and judging them by their skin is not only a sin, but it’s also a failure of God’s command to love our neighbor.[12]
  • Christians should define themselves as lovers of God and servants of others (Jn 13:35). We err when we want to promote our identity as “White/Asian/Hispanic/Black” Christians or Church. When we place an adjective before our Christianity then we are attempting to redefine faith from the way Jesus did. One’s loyalty to a racial identity does not supersede loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ.
    • Gal 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul isn’t saying these categories are erased but they all have equal value at the foot of the cross.
    • “Jesus has broken down the wall of hostility… and reconciled us both to God in one body… So, then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members [together] of the household of God.” (Eph 2:14-19)
  • Where is your Jericho road to love a wounded neighbor?
    • Community: Home / School / Work
    • Statistics:
      1 in 4 mental health disorder / disability / abortion
      1 in 6 experienced abuse
    • Differences: ethnicity, economic, religious, political… Start with conversations that become friendships.  

Proverbs 31:8: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Jesus connects saving faith not with skin but sin.

The fact that Jesus includes a Samaritan in His teaching parable was a surprise. The detail that Jesus makes the Samaritan a hero is shocking. Jesus could have told the story in any number of ways and still got the message across to the Jewish lawyer that loving others must be in attitude and words, but also in deeds and truth.

Yet, Jesus personified compassion with someone who was the exact opposite of what everyone expected, and which all of us are internally.

The question: When you read this parable, from which perspective do you see yourself?

  • The lawyer: wanting to know and discuss theological uncertainties about heaven and eternal life? Or worse, as one who is cold and hardened that wants to limit our neighbors to those who look and think like you?
  • The priest or the Levite: who believes we are good deep down and presents well on the outside, but half-heartedly admits that we are too busy and distracted, and has room for improvement on our compassion odometer?
  • The Samaritan: who has an outward facing perspective to relate and reach as many people as possible?

The reality is that none of these are the perspectives we are supposed to identify. Remember, the purpose of Jesus telling the parable relates to salvation. Therefore, it is from the perspective of the ditch with the desperate need and near dead individual is looking for hope and rescue.[13]

In this case, the Good Samaritan is Jesus Christ.

  • Jesus is the Witness who is fundamentally and eternally different from us. And He does not owe us any responsibility or reward but chooses to extend free grace.
  • Jesus is the Savior who sees those who are broken down by the burdens and dangers of the world.
  • Jesus is the Deliverer who places Himself in the path of danger to enter our suffering.
  • Jesus is the Comforter who takes from His own resources to help our needs and heal our wounds.
  • Jesus is the Advocate who promises to pay our debts and never leave our side for any future challenge or crisis.
  • We are those who are weary and heavy-burdened, left without hope and fatal destiny until the providence of God helps us to see Jesus.

Jesus models for us what it means to engage and encourage across differences by loving us. Before we became Christians, we are not neutral allies with God – we are strangers and enemies of God (Rom 5:8; Eph 2:1-3). Yet, Jesus offers us mercy, reconciliation, and a fresh start.   

The gospel is not about Jew or Samaritan, or any other skin tone but sin turning. But addressing racism is not a distraction to the gospel but part of its emphasis. Jesus wants to rid us from all sin, including racism. Jesus abhors partiality and racism, and we should too. And unfortunately, sin is a lingering issue until we reach heaven. Therefore, no sins are extinct, and racism is an issue we must continue to confront like all the others. Yet, since racism is one of many sins that Jesus died for on the cross, there is hope.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not about skin tone but sin turning. Jesus wants to rid us from all sin, including racism.

Some of the specific issues facing us today around the topic of racism are Black Lives Matter (BLM) & Critical Race Theory (CRT).

In brief, here are a few things I will say:

  • BLM the idea is different from the ideology.
  • BLM the idea is well meaning and 100% true. The idea or slogan is not intending to say that black lives matter more than any others. Also, returning the phrase #AllLivesMatter is unhelpful, even though it’s also true.
    • Before the 19th Amendment to the US constitution for women’s right to vote, it would have been unhelpful for men to show up to women’s protests with signs saying, #AllVotesMatter.
    • It would be unhelpful to go to a cancer gala and criticize the donors saying #AllDiseasesMatter.
    • Going to pro-life rallies, it would be insensitive to the cause of the unborn to shout #AllLivesMatter because it’s not the point of the protest.
    • #blacklivesmatter the slogan is not saying they only matter, or they matter more. It’s more an affirmation than an accusation, because historically this has not been true, and on modern occasions we can unfortunately see the dark clouds of our history return with storms of bitterness and hate.  
    • Yet, based on the associations of the slogan with the organization, it does raise questions.
  • Because, BLM as an ideology and organization is misguided at best and malignant at worse.
  • BLM the organization has an aim that is incompatible with the Christian worldview because it seeks to dismantle the biblical family definition, disrupt biblical values, and violently make division based on flawed and harmful ideology.[14]
  • Further CRT is a complex academic discipline that attempts to understand race and racism through the lens of power.[15] Christians can respond with two opposite errors: alarmism and denialism. Alarmism equates any discussion of race as “CRT” and refuses to have any discussion about the topic, much like this sermon. In contrast, denialism refuses to recognize false and dangerous ideas within CRT that is increasingly influencing basic elements of society from elementary education, business and economic practices, legal practices, and even religion, and onward.
  • Christians should replicate the tribe of Issachar who had understanding of the times and know what to do; along with Daniel and friends who survive in evil Babylon, who learned cultural practices but lived set apart with resolved obedience to God.


*This single sermon may not make much of a difference in the world. Your influence may not become world-changing. However, I can wholeheartedly say: #YourLifeMatters. You are made God’s image, and there is never a person you will meet that doesn’t matter to Jesus. His love for you is true. His grace is sufficient for any and all sin.

Micah 6:8 “What does the LORD require of you?
To do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

God wants to walk with you in your journey.

Will you take your next step?

  • Embrace Jesus.
  • Enter another’s life with empathy; find your Jericho road.
  • Repent of any suppressed sin. Jesus will deal severely with stubborn pride, selfish attitudes, and sinful actions.

[1] Information from


[3] For example:

[4] See:,,,,

[5] Rebecca McLaughlin “The Secular Creed: Engaging 5 Contemporary Claims.” You can also access a free e-book link:

[6] James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Luke, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos, 2015), 318.

[7] I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1978), 442.

[8] I. Howard Marshall, The Gospel of Luke: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1978), 444.

[9] James R. Edwards, The Gospel according to Luke, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Apollos, 2015), 320.



[12] Inspired from Tim Keller’s thought

[13] John Nolland, Luke 9:21–18:34, vol. 35B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1993), 592.

[14] For a more full review, see:,,,

[15] I get this definition, along with insights from Neil Shenvi:

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