Achieving racial reconciliation is challenging and seemingly impossible — both in our country and within the church. The stipulations imposed on us because of our differences should not determine how we relate to one another, but sadly, it seems they do.
When it comes to racism in America, it seems like our country hasn’t learned from the past or grown up from its failures of slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow laws, segregation, and social bias. We can point fingers, blame politicians, scoff at social activists, and become hardened to the problems. We can remain ignorant to it or, somehow, try to ignore it. But the problems of racism and the realities of its hatred are only increasing. Today, racism in America is no longer just a black and white issue.
Racism comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Racism isn’t just a southern problem, an urban problem, a Middle-East problem, or an American problem. Racism is a human problem. And it has always been a sin problem. It can be found in every culture but, it is most visible when cultures clash and inequities are felt.
At its core, racism begins with selfish pride and can be flamed into selfish hate when influenced over time with experience. Racism’s siblings － classism and elitism － are born out of the same selfish, sinful, Satanic origins. Racism won’t be eliminated from the world until sin is cleansed from our hearts and removed from the world in God’s time.
Help us, “above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
With this prayer, may we who belong to God’s family by faith in Christ alone always celebrate and prioritize our Christian family identity in Christ above ALL else (including our view of police or our stance on politics) and find our unity in Christ as the truest definition of our lives regardless of our skin color, cultural differences, socio-economic backgrounds, family status, or political leanings.
Diversity within the body of Christ has been the DNA of Christianity from the first century, and especially of the church—and the Lord delights in it! We need to live the way Christ wants us to live— united in Him.
Our reconciliation with others will never happen by pursuing unity – it will only come from pursuing Christ who reconciled us to God.
Consider the following Scriptures:
For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him. (Romans 5:10-11)
In Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:19–20)
Only when we are reconciled with God through faith in Christ as our death substitute can we have hope of reconciling with others through life’s sojourn.
Over the last three years (most recently since the shooting of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri) our country has once again become a tinder box of racial tension, division, and fear. With the latest racial conflicts in our country and here in our community, we’ve heard some rhetoric that seems way over the top. We’ve experienced the anger and fears between the black community and law enforcement. We’ve been horrified by the vengeance of misguided individuals. But, should the overreaction of some cause us to overreact or worse, not react at all?
What can I do? What can you do? WHAT CAN WE DO?
Intercede through prayer. Ask God to soften our hardened hearts, reveal our racial blind spots, and heal the deep festering wounds. The Lord God is the only one who can do so (Psalm 139:23–24). We know that reconciliation is God’s will according to His Word (Romans 12, Ephesians 2, and 2 Corinthians 5), so let’s pray without ceasing that we will be His ambassadors of peace and ministers of reconciliation. Let’s pray for those who are grieving deeply today over the loss of lives and weep with them. Let’s pray that we will respond to God as we reach out in grace to others – even those who are different and see the world differently than we do. Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters who are living in fear because of the color of their skin. Let’s pray for our police officers and other first responders who are serving faithfully during days of intense scrutiny and pressure. Let’s pray for the Lord to give wisdom to our governing authorities as they lead our country, “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2).
Instruct your own heart and mind through clear teaching of God’s Word under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We must recognize that the misinterpretation of the Bible has been utilized as a tool of prejudice and the misuse of Scripture as a weapon of racism throughout American history. We must approach Him in humility to learn from the Lord rather than reinforce our anger, justify our distrust, or rationalize our sinfulness. Let’s read more of the Bible to feed our souls with God’s heavenly perspective (could I suggest Ephesians?) than refreshing your newsfeed on social media which is filled with the vitriolic bias of humanity’s limited viewpoints.
Interact with others who are different. Let’s build intentional relationships (friendships), with neighbors, coworkers, classmates, and, especially, fellow members of God’s family who are different ethnically or racially. Let’s be those who are quick to listen to others who view the world differently because of their culture or their experiences, slow to speak our mind and share our opinions, and slow to become angry with those who are different than us. This starts with believing the best rather than assuming the worst of others who like us, bear God’s image. Verbally acknowledge the hurts and fears of others and seek reconciliation in Christ.
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?
Both the Old Testament and the New communicate the same, primary purpose of God’s people: to love Him and love others. The Old Testament puts it this way, “Mankind, He has told you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). The New Testament says the same, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” (Matthew 22:37-40).
I confess, the outlook of this ongoing racial conflict which has been embedded in our nation since its beginnings and within our sinful hearts since the Garden (Genesis 3) looks hopeless. But, with God, nothing is impossible (Genesis 18:14; Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 1:37,18:27).
Please, Lord Jesus, hear our prayers, transform our hearts, and reconcile our relationships.