September 15, 2016

Race and the Gospel, Part 5

Place your trust in God

Racism is real. But is no match for God, who has promised to do the hard work of reconciliation.

In this five-part video/blog series, we will consider the reality of racism and what it means for us as the Church. In previous weeks, we looked at how our churches are divided along racial lines; why it’s crucial to acknowledge the past; how our own worldview affects what we consider “normal”; and how there is power in the gospel to end the hostility.

This fifth and final blog post will exhort us to place our trust in God. Because He has already conquered sin, we can be sure that division and racism will not have the last word.

Solutions: Trusting God

When we look at the giant that is racial injustice, the fight we are called to seems daunting. But remember: The fight is intensely spiritual.

The strongest weapon we have against racial injustice is our hope in His faithfulness.
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“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” the apostle Paul says, “but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, English Standard Version).

The great German theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer said these words when reflecting on the racism that had taken hold in Nazi Germany: “How can one close one’s eyes at the fact that the demons themselves have taken over rule of the world, that it is the powers of darkness who have here made an awful conspiracy?”1

The powers of darkness, working through human agents and institutions, keep racism a dominant and divisive force in our world. Thus, any hope of seeing racism defeated must be rooted in the truth that God is more powerful than any force of darkness.

Too often, we fall into the trap of trusting in people and governments to bring an end to the racism that shackles us. It is foolish, however, to believe that human strength, willpower and ingenuity have the power to defeat such a spiritual stronghold. David reminds us of this in Psalm 33:16-17 (ESV):

The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

God has promised that He will ultimately defeat all forms of evil and injustice in the world. The strongest weapon we have against racial injustice is our hope in His faithfulness. When we see systemic forms of racism inflicting pain on particular communities of people, our hope must not lie in governments or movements or the ability of people to change themselves. Instead, we must trust in the God who has promised to make all things new through the gospel.

Be encouraged: God will do what He has said He will do. His purposes will not fail. May this truth both lift your soul in the journey and provide fuel for the mission. Racism is real and active, but it is no match for the power of God. Trust God to ultimately bring it to an end, and simultaneously rejoice that He has given us the privilege of partnering with Him in the great work of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).

The fight (against racial injustice) is intensely spiritual.
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We follow the pattern of Christ and lay ourselves down in the divided places of our world as bridge people, peacemakers, reconcilers—holding onto the hope of a new creation as God brings true justice and reconciliation.

Why not explore one of these books with others at your church:

1. Divided by Faith: Evangelical religion and the problem of race in America, by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith
2. Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the hidden forces that keep us apart, by Christena Cleveland
3. The Heart of Racial Justice: How soul change leads to social change, by Brenda Salter McNeil and Rick Richardson
4. Letter From Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King Jr.
5. The New Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
6. The Trouble With Racial Reconciliation: Why John Perkins’ theological approach works, by Kenneth N. Young
7. Pondering Privilege: Toward a deeper understanding of whiteness, race and faith, by Jody Wiley Fernando

1Marva J. Dawn, Powers, Weakness and the Tabernacling of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2001), pp. 4-5.

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