Ongoing Racial Tensions
February 18, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Tuesday, February 23 marks the one-year anniversary of when Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot. While details of what happened that day were not made public until May, Arbery’s death sparked a contentious year in our nation over the state of race relations. There were the deaths of Breanna Taylor and George Floyd, followed by a summer of protesting and rioting. Headlines for these events competed with the news of the worldwide pandemic.
How should the Church respond?
Since the mid 90s, when I began formal ministry training, I have been engaged in and following discussions on racial reconciliation. This has been something Christians have been wrestling with for decades and even centuries. Several truths have been emphasized by those seeking to be faithful to the gospel and Scripture:
- Every single human being, even those of different ethnicity and race, are created equal in the image of God. There is no racial superiority or divine right for a particular group of people.
- God’s missional goal is for the gospel to be preached to all ethnic groups because he has purchased for himself a people from every tribe and language and people and nation. God desires that the good news of Jesus be proclaimed to all people.
- The redeemed of the Lord in heaven will be a multi-ethnic group of people. English-speaking, white people will be a minority in heaven.
- The sin of racism has wreaked havoc, and continues to do so, in our world. Racism is the sin of showing partiality to a person or group of people based upon skin color. Negatively, racism is the sin of prejudice against a person or group of people based upon skin color.
- The sins of individuals do impact institutions and systems. The history of racism in America bears witness to this truth from chattel slavery to Jim Crow laws to segregation.
- The Good News of Jesus gives us hope that racism can be overcome, but it also directs us to long for the return of Christ. In Christ, there is hope of forgiveness and reconciliation. In this life, however, sin and death continue to corrupt. So, we long for the return of Christ when he will establish perfect justice while eradicating sin and death.
- While much progress has been made in battling racism, more can and needs to be done. Famously highlighted is the fact that churches remain highly segregated on Sunday mornings. Why is that? Much debate and contention come from this question. I’m no expert, but I suspect that part of the problem is related to the cultural divide created during centuries of racism dividing people based upon skin color. Obviously, a lot more can and needs to be said in this area.
This last statement, probably, is the source of most of the contentions, especially within the church. Debated are: how much racial inequality is there, what is the source of ongoing racial inequality, and how do we continue to fight for racial equality? As followers of Christ, we are called to humbling seek truth, love our neighbor as ourselves, and hope in the power of the Gospel.
At Oak Hills, we will continue to strive to be faithful to the Gospel in all areas of life. This includes, of course, seeking to understand how the Gospel applies to racial reconciliation. To this end, we invite you to join us this Sunday evening, February 21, at 6:30pm for a Seminar on Race & the Gospel. We won’t have all of the answers; we may not even ask all of the right questions. But we want to continue to learn and grow together.