God's Multi-Ethnic Redemption Plan
June 30, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This past Sunday we welcomed home another team that had served with Sacred Road Ministries in Warm Springs, Oregon. While celebrating what God continues to do among the Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, we took some time to be reminded of God's plan for the nations and our role in that plan. Isaiah tells us that God's plan centers on his choice servant, Jesus. God says through his prophet, "I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (49:6).
This verse, with Jesus' interpretation (John 8:12) and application (Matt. 5:14), has far reaching implications for missions. But it also has implications about ethnicity and race. When the Bible speaks about "the nations" it is not thinking about geo-political boundaries established in the last 100 years. "The nations" are different ethnic people groups. God's plan for salvation, a redeemed people for himself, is multi-ethnic, multi-racial. The praise of the heavenly choir in Revelation 5:9 makes this even more explicit: "by your blood you [namely, Jesus Christ, the slain lamb of God] ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation."
This means that the Church, the redeemed people of God, will not only be multi-ethnic, but it also should be a leader for racial equality and reconciliation. The Church, unfortunately, has not always embraced this vision and calling. That's why I'm excited that our denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, made a unified statement of repentance over racial sins and of our calling to pursue a gospel vision of race. Here is the statement approved last week at our denomination's annual General Assembly of pastors and elders:
Therefore be it resolved, that the 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of corporate and historical sins, including those committed during the Civil Rights era, and continuing racial sins of ourselves and our fathers such as the segregation of worshipers by race; the exclusion of persons from Church membership on the basis of race; the exclusion of churches, or elders, from membership in the Presbyteries on the basis of race; the teaching that the Bible sanctions racial segregation and discourages inter-racial marriage; the participation in and defense of white supremacist organizations; and the failure to live out the gospel imperative that “love does no wrong to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10); and
Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of past failures to love brothers and sisters from minority cultures in accordance with what the Gospel requires, as well as failures to lovingly confront our brothers and sisters concerning racial sins and personal bigotry, and failing to “learn to do good, seek justice and correct oppression (Isaiah 1:17);” and
Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly praises and recommits itself to the gospel task of racial reconciliation, diligently seeking effective courses of action to further that goal, with humility, sincerity and zeal, for the glory of God and the furtherance of the Gospel; and
Be it further resolved, that the General Assembly urges the congregations and presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church in America to make this resolution known to their members in order that they may prayerfully confess their own racial sins as led by the Spirit and strive towards racial reconciliation for the advancement of the gospel, the love of Christ, and the glory of God.
Let me encourage you to prayerfully seek God's help in discerning racial sin that may reside in your heart and life, even if you feel "disconnected" from this issue. We all have room to grow in our understanding and living out of our role in God's plan for the nations. Let us be a people seeking to serve as "the light of the world" in such ways that the multi-ethnic redemption plan of God is celebrated as it is in heaven.