Over the last several years it appears that the racial tension is reaching new heights in my lifetime. (I realize the tension is nowhere near what it was in the 60s during the height of the civil rights era, however, it seems to have been a calming over the last 50 years that is now awakening). What seems to have started out as a divide between minority groups and the police force has escalated into something much larger. One national radio talk show host stated that he felt that things were moving towards a second Civil War. While I think that might be a bit much, a second civil rights era does seem to be reasonable. This has led to a lot of articles, sermons on the subject as well as a national political discussion. Recently, a preacher I know shared a post on Facebook which was an article written by a preacher for yesteryear (I am withholding names because I don’t believe in smearing anyone in mud). The article revealed how this preacher from days past believed in segregation. He had nothing hurtful or hateful to say about minority groups, but believed that even the churches (and preachers) should remain separate. I know that this preacher was from the South and preached in the Pre-Civil Rights era. While I am not justifying his comments I did want to put them in proper perspective. What it did remind me of is that even in the church segregation and racism existed. We are only fooling ourselves if we think that it didn’t exist. (I talked to one preacher who preached against segregation in Atlanta during the 60s was warned that such behavior was unacceptable. He was even told that because his kids played with everyone that certain members of the church wouldn’t let their kids play together. Racism existed in the church in ages past. Racism still exists in the church today. While it might not be as vocal and obvious like it once was, I have seen it with my own eyes. (In fact, one of the reason I had to leave a church was because of the racist actions that were taking place (anyone that wasn’t white was never talked to by more than ˝ of the church). It broke my heart to see churches in the 2000s still struggling to see what God had made abundantly clear in the first century.
Col. 3:10-11 “ …put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him: where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ is all, and in all.” Did you catch that. “there cannot be Greek or Jew or Barbarian or Scythian….” Not that there shouldn’t be. This is not a suggestion. For those that have put on Christ they no longer look at the world through the eyes of the world that notices differences. If a church (or a Chrisian) is seeing skin color, nationality, heritage differences then you could made the argument that the new man was never put on. Sure, portions may have been put on. Maybe a new mouth so foul language is no longer said, maybe a new stomach that he no longer craves alcohol. Maybe new feet that no longer swiftly run to evil. But the eyes, the eyes remain the same. They still see skin color. They still treat people differently because they look differently. Brethren, the child of God is to become just that, a child. No one is ever born with prejudice and hatred. Those are learned traits. They are taught to us by parents, grandparents, sometime teachers and mentors, and regretfully, preachers and elders. We need to make certain that is never an issue in this church. Here, all of God’s children must be accepted as much as the next person. There should never be a hint of racism here!
But, does this mean that the Christian must get politically active? No. While I am not saying that it is wrong to get politically active, it doesn’t meant that we have to. There were a lot of social injustice that took place during the 1st century. Jesus message was not about making the local or national government bend to God’s will. His message was about bending the will of the people to God’s will.
When enough of the people’s hearts are turned unto God eventually the political leaders will be made up of those whose hearts are bent to the Lord’s will. Jesus was not starting a new earthly kingdom. He was creating a spiritual kingdom!
Grinnell church of Christ
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Racism and the Church
Volume 8 Issue 33