Talking about race and ethnicity is dangerous. You’ll probably say something wrong and hurtful along the way. But if you’re courageous and willing to walk the long road together then real progress can be made.
In the Church it’s essential for us to keep the gospel central in all things, including how we talk about and pursue racial harmony. The following is a simple attempt to clarify how the gospel drives the pursuit of racial unity.
Worshipping Christ Together
The gospel is the “good news” of salvation and new life. It is the announcement that our sin has been forgiven through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because we are now “in Christ” through faith, “we are a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The gospel is not only for one ethnic group, but for “all peoples” of the earth (Matthew 28:20, Acts 1:17). “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:18).
We are united by faith with brothers and sisters of all skin color, language, and cultures. We worship Christ together and are adopted into one Christian family as children of God (John 1:12).
Racism divides. The gospel unites. When we kneel before the Lord, may our worship here on earth reflect our worship in glory where we will be surrounded by all tribes, nations, and languages. If your church is filled with people who look the same then you’re missing out on a foretaste of heavenly worship.
This isn’t only a critique of White-churches, but of Black-churches, Asian-churches, Hispanic-churches, etc. Your ethnicity and culture matters. Embrace that. But seek opportunities to partner with brothers and sisters of faith who are different than you as a reminder that the Church is bigger and more diverse than your local congregation. Worship the Lord Jesus together.
Loving One Another Starts With Listening
The Great Commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). The gospel is the pathwway to loving God the way we ought. We love God because he first loved us (1 John 4:19), and how he loved us was through the message of the gospel.
But we cannot love our neighbor as ourselves if we won’t listen to our neighbor. As we consider the events of the past week and all the racial tension in our country, may our hearts be broken for one another. Black lives matter. Police lives matter. All lives matter because we’ve been created in the image of God.
Let’s put aside the anger and put on love for one another. I understand that’s easier for me to say since I’m neither African American nor a police officer. But we cannot move forward towards healing and unity if we allow ourselves to be filled with anything other than love.
I am convinced that in the pursuit of racial unity, love begins with open eyes and open ears.