“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
As we scan the horizon of American church history, we would be foolish to pretend that racism or ethnic partiality has not been and is not an issue. We know that the stain of racism has soiled the garments of the Church in this nation. As John Perkins stated in Welcoming Justice, the church allowed the culture to pervade their thinking.
However, the bride of Christ is always being made pure by her Bridegroom. We are a people being sanctified day by day as we behold our glorious Savior. Her sin-stained garment is being made white as snow by the blood of Jesus, and we must never forget that. The gospel is radically powerful no matter what culture or what sin issues may abound.
The Prophetic Work of the Church
Reconciliation starts with us... well, sort of.
Reconciliation starts with God who first extended His electing love to a people who were hell-bound and deserving of eternal death. Yet, after He saved us, He sent us to all nations to proclaim His glorious message of reconciliation. Our ultimate problem is enmity with God, and politics won’t fix that. Only the gospel can.
Since we have been reconciled to and sent out by God, reconciliation in America starts with us—the ambassadors of Christ.
As I have looked at the issues of racism and injustice in this nation, I have shared a similar sentiment with many friends and family: the church needs to be at the forefront of reconciliation efforts. In fact, I believe the church will lead the cause of racial unity and equality in America. The far-left agenda of organizations like Antifa and Black Lives Matter won’t sustain it. The alt-right groups like bro-confederates and the KKK want nothing to do with it. Partisan politics is only fuel for the fire.
This doesn’t mean we don’t need reforms in the justice system. It also doesn’t mean that fighting for the rights of the oppressed is a waste (see Isaiah 1:17). But it does mean we need more than than that. We need the gospel. We need a biblical worldview. Our foundation is Christ, and our strength lies in the power of God.
Christians are called to hate all evil (Psalm 97:10). As we deal with the evil in our own hearts, we will become more Christlike, and that Christlikeness will be put on display for the world to see. The gospel is a powerful message, and those who have new hearts also have the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwelling within us. We are mystically, and yet actually, in union with Christ. He is our power for a change!
This Is Church Work
The work of the Church in reconciling with one another is prophetic. I am not speaking of institutional religiosity and buildings. The church is the universal assembly of grace-filled believers who join together in local assemblies—churches—to worship and work together for the glory of God.
Our message and mission will speak volumes to the culture around us. The church has always been called to love one another and do good to everyone, though we do this imperfectly. Today, I see Christians throughout this nation rising up and listening and loving one another. I see Christians of every ethnicity studying the Bible in order to grow in their knowledge of the truth as well as their application of it.
I am hopeful! Jesus said that nobody can come to the Father except through Him. He has invited the world to come to Him, and He uses the church to do it. As the world sees Christians love one another, they will know we are His. We are living pictures of the reconciling work of the gospel!
What Is Your Part?
We each have a part to play. What is yours?
As we desire and strive to see reconciliation In this nation, it is going to take far more than more policies and diversity training. Those things are indeed helpful, but they don’t change hearts. We have seen that with the Civil Rights movement and laws that followed it. As disciplemakers, we are in the unique position to both teach and model biblical diversity.
Are you a parent? Teach your children the Bible. Share the gospel with your children as often as you can. And as you’re teaching them the gospel, show them what it looks like to be Christlike toward people to all people, even those who don’t look like them. Teach them to respond to racism or ethnocentrism in ways that glorify God.
Do you have a job? Grab lunch with a coworker that you’ve been meaning to connect with. Speak to them about these issues from a biblical worldview, and share the gospel as you speak on these matters. Reach to friends of other ethnicities and get to know them. Even if you don’t have many opportunities for that, speak to people of your own ethnicities about the issues and show them the biblical response. We don’t have to live in diverse areas to make a difference.,
Do you go to church? If you’re in a predominantly black or predominantly white church, you can still make an impact in the discussion of reconciliation. We should be willing to discuss our struggles and point one another to the gospel. Perhaps there are racist tendencies and mindsets within our own hearts. The church is the place to discuss that, because we have the Scriptures and the gospel to change those things. If you are in a diverse church, share your struggles while carrying the burdens of the Saints around you. This is exactly what the church is here for.
Will you buy in?
For some of us, reconciliation has been a way of life already. There may not be much for you to change at all. As a black man with a white wife and mixed children, reconciliation is part of the fabric of my life. I am in predominantly white churches, but I am striving to stay connected with the black culture in my community as well as connecting my church to the people I love and grew up with. Sometimes it is tough to balance because I feel stuck in the middle of two groups of people I love. For years I’ve been praying for God to send me as a laborer in the harvest of my community, and now I’m seeing some of the answers unfold.
For others of us, reconciliation may feel like a foreign task. It may be scary. It may even be offensive to think that you need to pursue diversity in your life. I challenge you with this: if heaven will be multicultural and multi ethnic, don’t you want a taste of that today? I don’t believe that you have to befriend every black person or every white person you meet. I am not saying that pursuing relationships with Latinos or people from other nations should be your only focus. But could it at least be one of them?
As I look at the world around me, reconciliation is bigger than just race. There are people in poverty from all races. There are people who have faced injustice from all walks of life. There are people everywhere looking for the hope of the gospel. The bigger picture of reconciliation is that we desire to see all people as image bearers of God who desperately need to be connected with the Savior—Jesus Christ. Will you grab them by the hand and take them to the foot of the cross?
Reconciliation starts with us.
Image Credit: Photo by fauxels from Pexels