Racist. Today this label can get you fired, ostracized, and branded untouchable in our culture. But as I look around, racism seems to be alive and well despite the efforts of both religious and non-religious people.
Racism, as I see it, is when I think I'm better than someone else because of what race I am, what my race has accomplished or what my race is capable of doing. It is a branch of elitism and prejudiced is a related term.
Jesus knew about racism and intentionally placed himself right in the middle of the issue. One of the realities of his day was a deep-seeded resentment between Jews and Samaritans. How did he respond? In stead of walking around Samaria to get to Galilee from Judea he walked right into Samaria and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink (totally scandalous!). Their ensuing conversation is incredibly enlightening because Jesus showed concern for her as a person. He did not profile her. He merely offered her what she wanted most: Redemption.
As a Christian I am sensitive to this issue because Christians are sometimes labeled intolerant, sexist, homophobic or bigoted elitists. Nice. Some of that criticism is deserved, especially when some of us go around dropping "truth bombs" on hapless citizens without concern for the effect it will have. What sets us apart is our claim to know the truth. That's something from we can't shy away, nor apologize. But, truth must be packaged in love (Ephesians 4:15). We'll be getting somewhere when we are as concerned with the way in which our message is received as we are on "getting it off our chest."
Ultimately, racism won't die until Jesus returns and banishes all our superiority complexes. But in the mean time I think we'll get closest to what Jesus did with the woman of Samaria by facing the problem head-on. If Jesus didn't think he was too good to sit at a Samaritan well, neither should we.
Paul's words in Galatians 3:28 seem like a good way to end:
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you [Christians] are all one in Christ Jesus."