An interviewer once asked Dr. Billy Graham, “If you could eradicate any problem in America, what would it be?” Dr. Graham answered very quickly and very directly as he replied, “The racial division and strife in our nation.” Why would this issue stand so central for one of the most prominent Christian voices in our society? I would like to suggest several reasons why racial reconciliation must be at the front of our agenda as a faith community.
In Mark’s gospel, Jesus makes clear, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25). By its nature, racism divides. It does not exist merely because of social differences. Racism is not a social issue or a cause. Because it is rooted in the human heart and has an impact on all human relationships, it is a theological and spiritual issue. Therefore, the Church must lead the way in every reconciliation effort and set the standard for spiritual and social healing in our communities and in our nation. Moreover, because it effects human relationships, failure to confront it infects us with its evil impact, no matter how great or small.
Racism, simply put, is hatred toward someone whom God created – there is no other way of looking at it: it is the belief that someone is innately superior to another individual whom God created simply by existing. Such prejudice toward someone whom God created is a blatant offense against God in whose image every human being is made. It is a sin.
Holy Scripture instructs us why we must all be involved in this work of racial reconciliation:
- Racial Reconciliation confronts and defeats hypocrisy. Romans 12:9 says, “Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good.” God loves all whom He has created, and He encourages us to do the same. Reconciliation confronts and defeats divisions among people based on the differences in color or culture.
- Racial Reconciliation confronts and defeats self-righteousness. Romans 2:11 says, “There is no favoritism with God.” Believing that one race or ethnic group is better than another is a form of self-righteousness.
- Racial Reconciliation encourages the body of Christ to freely obey the Great Commission. Mathew 28:19-20 says, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” The word “nations” always used in Scripture to indicate ethnicity.
- Racial Reconciliation encourages the body of Christ to obey the Great Commandment. John 13:34-35 says, “I give you a new command: love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Hate for another or prejudice against another has no place in the life of a disciple of Jesus.
- Racial Reconciliation honors God’s design. Acts 17:26 says, “From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live.” By His own design, God created all of humanity to stem from one man’s blood.
- Racial Reconciliation honors God’s redemptive plan. Revelation 5:9 says, “And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.’” God’s redemptive plan includes people from every ethnic group.
- Racial Reconciliation honors God Himself. John 3:16 says, “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” God’s act of love was for the world, not for one race.
As the bearers of Christ’s image on earth, reconciliation is not merely an effort to be made – it is a high calling that we must live. The apostle Paul declares, “Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.” On this one of the collects used in the Church’s Daily Office is instructive:
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(“Morning Prayer,” BCP, p. 100)
When we pray, “Thy kingdom come,” we realize that working for racial reconciliation is not an option. Full stop.
Source: Rector’s Blog