Posted by: baptistthinker | September 9, 2011

Racism and the Gospel Part II

When I moved down South, I found myself overwhelmed by the amount of churches here in Mississippi and the greater Memphis area(let’s face it, there are more churches on my drive to my church than were in my entire town back home). I began visiting different churches. I remember visiting one church, and I was standing around talking with one of the deacons and a couple of the assistant pastors. I remember the little son(maybe four years old) of one of those pastors who came up to stand by his dad. His dad looked down at him and said “Boy, you tell these fellas that joke I taught you.” And this little kid proceeded to tell a couple of jokes that contained the “N” word. Just a couple of weeks ago, a young black adult who I am friends with on Facebook, posted that she had been told “she needed to stop going to a white church, she didn’t belong there”. I’ve noticed that in our churches, we all tend to stick with our own ethnic groups. We have Korean churches, AME churches, Missionary Baptist churches, Southern Baptist(typically white churches, but there’s a change growing in Southern Baptist churches, our church is developing a mix), Fundamental Baptist churches(typically white), etc, etc. Now, it can be said that this came about because white Americans weren’t willing to share their churches with black Americans, and a need arose for churches in black communities. And that’s a valid point. But how long can we continue this way? Is the Gospel being properly proclaimed in a church made up entirely of one ethnic group, when the surrounding community is a mix of ethnicities? As somebody who spends a lot of time in different neighborhoods around my town/city, I know of several churches, where they don’t properly reflect the part of town in which they find themselves. Isn’t there a problem there? When we get to heaven, we are going to find believers of every tribe and tongue. We should work on getting used to that down here on earth, working together with one another for the Gospel, showing the lost world how the Gospel can impact lives and change the hearts and minds of believers. How the Gospel can bring a man who at one point hated black people, and made him one day join together with black believers to impact a community for the Gospel. Because that’s what the Gospel does. It’s so powerful that it can change you from being a hater of God and your fellow man, to loving God and that same man you hated just a short time before. It takes a heart of stone, and turns it into a heart of flesh. This is the promise of God, that He will take those in opposition to Him, and make them His friends. We tend to look at racism as one of those unforgivable sins, where people just can’t change. But I will tell you, I have changed. Or rather, God has changed me, I couldn’t have changed on my own. God moved, and He moved me. Who I was before, is not who I am today.

But let me ask, how can we properly illustrate the Gospel and it’s power, when most of our churches are homogeneous? If our church is all black, or all white, or all Latino, or all Korean, and the community in which we find ourselves is a mixture of all of those ethnic groups, are we properly displaying the power of the Gospel? Or are we making it our own little club, where we hang out with people who look like us, talk like us, and think like us? Look at the early church! It was made up of Jews and Gentiles, sitting together at the Lord’s table! Yes, there were fights! Yes, there was dissension! But they worked through that, for the glory of God. We learned about God’s care for both Jews and Greeks. We learned that God doesn’t make any distinction between the two, because of Christ. And that is the way it ought to be in our own churches! We ought to be able to display to the unsaved world that both black families and white families can sit under the same pastors and praise the same God. We ought to see Asian believers next to Latino believers, worshiping God with outstretched hands. We ought to see men and women of different ethnic backgrounds coming together to give the Gospel to a lost and dying world. And yet, we stay cooped up in our separate churches. We give the Gospel to a black man, and then tell him to go to the black church down the street. We give the Gospel to a white man, but God forbid he come to our church. We tell the Latino family that just accepted Christ “hey, you can go to this church twenty miles away where they speak Spanish.” How on earth does this reflect the Gospel? How are we showing the love of Christ to a world that needs Him in doing this?

What does the world see when they look at your church? Maybe your church is in a community where everybody is white, or everybody is black, or everybody is Latino or Asian. But if you live in any sort of major town in the United States, probably not. Maybe you should consider doing outreach into those neighborhoods of the people you don’t trust, or that you’re a little scared of deep inside. If you have a problem with bringing black people into your congregation, maybe you should stop and consider the Gospel for a moment. If you have a problem asking your white friend to come into your church, maybe you need to examine the Gospel a little closer. Or maybe you need to look at your church more carefully and find out if they have a grasp on the Gospel. Remember, the Gospel points us to a redeemer, a Savior for all mankind. Not just the Jews, or the white people, or the black people, or any other ethnic group. No, He’s the Savior of the world, redeeming for Himself people from every tribe and nation. When you think your ethnic group superior to another, you are making yourself an idol. You are worshiping a god made in your own image, something to be repented of today. Now is the time for repentance. Find those areas of prejudice in your heart, and ask God to help you. Root them out, with the Scriptures, with the Gospel. And let God be glorified with what happens as a result.

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Responses

  1. Excellent series of articles you have presented. A very valid point is made concerning the believer’s attitude regarding racial divisions. And in the southern states (Bible belt?) it appears to be a few steps behind the rest of the nation. Unfortunately, the church is impacted by a community’s culture far more than we like to admit. Thanks and God bless


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