I’m devastated tonight as a look through the lens of the digital mediums at the world today. I was blessed all day because I got to spend almost the entire day with my son, in the safety of my small house in South St. Louis. We played ball, laughed and he ate everything that I would give him. It was an amazing day, fruitful in every way. After he went down for the night though, my reality changed drastically. I checked the social medias and found that in my blissful day, the world was anything but blissful. This not so blissful day deserves a response. I have been relatively silent up until now. This deserves a biblical response.
Here’s the deal. Racism in any form is anti-Gospel. Period. If you’re exegetical work lands you in some sort of racism, you’re wrong.
“For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
My response will sit here in Romans 10. The meta-narrative of the Bible provides the baseline for the response, but honestly this is a targeted response, mainly the Christian community. I believe that Paul’s discussion here provides us a clear framework in which we need to address racism.
First, Paul denounces racism in this passage. To the Church at Rome, Jesus’ work on the cross was for both Jew and Greek, no distinction. In other words, theo-centric racism isn’t grounded in Christianity. It’s grounded in the sinful nature of our hearts. It’s a direct reflection of the fall, the turning from a Holy God. It’s the same sinful nature that causes all people to turn away from God and commit horrible acts.
If you are still reading this, you read that right. The racism that has been so proudly put on display over this weekend is rooted in the exact same nature of OUR sin. Real talk here, I’m not calling you racist. In fact, I believe that as we throw the word racist around so freely we are quickly becoming divisive and alienating brothers and sisters, without a Gospel cause. It’s simply the Doctrine of Sin, and when a group of peoples sinful nature gets a world wide stage it is Biblical for the Church to respond.
Here is where I believe that the Church is failing to respond in a Biblical manner.
- We, the Church continue to use politically charged language. Liberal this, and conservative that. The entire Bible is a Story about a Hero that comes to redeem His people, the Church. Paul points this out in the Roman’s passage above. The majority ‘we’ are grafted in to His family. The world that we live in as sojourners, utilizes those terms to divide and thus, we have allowed our sinful natures to take over and divide. You can point at Satan if you feel appropriate here. I tend to think that it’s our sinful hearts wanting identity in something other than Jesus.
- While it is absolutely appropriate and Biblical to become angry with systemic racism in our country, it is absolutely sinful to utilize the oppression of a people as a podium for politics, in the name of Jesus. If you are so angry that a people group are being oppressed, do what God has called the Church to do in the first place. Love the oppressed and pray for your enemies. You, Christian were once an enemy of God, and yet He loved you. You, Christian were made in the image of God, commissioned to continue the work of Jesus, put your hand to the plow. You, Christian were saved for a purpose, live like it. How you do that, as long as your walking in love and led by the Spirit is on you. Be creative, be encouraging, be challenging, be aggressive, be the Church.
- While you are out doing out of your being, here is my last point for the response. Paul points out in the Romans passage above that those racist, evil, misguided, ill informed, people need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So do the heroin junkies that are outside my house right now, kicking in the park across the street. So do the people of North St. Louis and East St. Louis, where there will be statistically at least one person killed tonight. The Gospel needs to reach the ears and hearts of the not-yet believer, and God’s plan from the very beginning was to use the Church as the vehicle in which the Gospel would be spread to every people group, globally. If this is true and you aren’t supporting church planting, you’re wrong Christian. You want to see the oppression lifted off a group of people, freedom in Christ is the only way. We need churches planted on every block, corn field, desert, beach and street in the world.
The disclaimer to this response is this, Jesus wept. If you aren’t weeping for the oppression of brothers and sisters, grab a brother a work through a hard heart. If this response makes you feel uncomfortable, good. Grab a brother or sister and work through it. If we as a Church aren’t going to model how a redeemed community is to function, we can’t expect the communities around us to look any different.