Jump directly to the content
Jan 20, 2014
Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Race Matters: Unity in Christ Triumphs Over Misunderstanding

What are Christians doing to break down the walls that racism has constructed? |
Race Matters: Unity in Christ Triumphs Over Misunderstanding
WIlliam Marrow / flickr

Race is a tricky thing to discuss.

Some people want to say it does not matter. Sometimes they want to say that because they want to ignore the issues. That's not helpful. For others, they say race does not matter because they genuinely desire to believe it does not, that we are in a post-racial world. But, race does matter. As I said a few years back, God seems to care about race and ethnicity:

Luke illustrates the coming of the Spirit with diverse expressions of tongues (Acts 2), even identifying the languages being spoken. And a glimpse of eternity in Revelation shows that men and women from every tongue, tribe, and nation make up the choir of eternal praise (Rev. 7:9). If the writers of Scripture take notice of ethnicity, so should we. Scripture not only identifies race and ethnicity, but John hints at prejudice concerning Jesus in John 1:46, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Furthermore, Jesus intentionally offends ethnic and racial sensibilities with both the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) and the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). Why go to so much trouble to emphasize their ethnicity if it does not matter?

I'm not sure it's helpful saying we're in a post-racial world until we really are.

13% of senior pastors of Protestant churches say they have more than one predominant ethnic group in their congregation.

The fact is, we are still divided by race. I asked sociologist Christina Cleveland to share some thoughts right after the George Zimmerman verdict. She explained (through that lens) how race still matters:

We need to pay attention to the fact that America's consciousness (and in many ways, the Church's consciousness) is fractured along racial lines – for this misrepresents the cross-cultural and unifying love of Christ. And before we spout our opinions, join sides and dig in our heels, we need to pause for a moment and humbly ask ourselves, what is really going on here? Is it possible that I'm missing something? And how should I respond as someone who takes my cues from Christ's words and example, rather than my own personal experience?

She's right. Addressing race issues always leads to misunderstanding, but unity in Christ matters more than a few misunderstandings along the way.

There is still work to be done. We just released research on Friday that tells us:

  • 85% of senior pastors of Protestant churches say that every church should strive for racial diversity.
  • 13% of senior pastors of Protestant churches say they have more than one predominant ethnic group in their congregation.
  • 78% of Americans say every church should strive for racial diversity.
  • 51% of Americans say they would be most comfortable visiting a church where multiple ethnicities are well represented.

You can see the full research report here.

Now, I am quite sure that that many of those are in communities that are not diverse. But, also, we still have work to do when only 51% of Americans would be comfortable in a multiethnic church.

As Martin Luther King Jr. explained in his letters from a Birmingham jail, real change, "comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be coworkers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation." Today, I'd encourage you to take a moment and ask what persistent work you might do to break down some walls for the glory of God.

So I share with Dr. King his dream, expressed here:

Posted:January 20, 2014 at 9:00 am

Comments

To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.
or
Subscribe
or

More From This Blog

It's Time to Listen: "We Don't All Look Alike," a guest post by Carl Ellis, Jr.

It's Time to Listen: "We Don't All Look Alike," a guest post by Carl Ellis, Jr.

Carl Ellis, Jr. shares a bit about what fueled his rage following Michael Brown's funeral.
The Surprising Truth About Discipleship and Spiritual Disciplines

The Surprising Truth About Discipleship and Spiritual Disciplines

Groups matter, and it's important that churches effectively establish and assess them.
Church Signs of the Week: August 29, 2014

Church Signs of the Week: August 29, 2014

Txt Frm God; Long Message; What You're Looking For

Follow Ed Stetzer

Exchange Logo

HOPE International ministry executive and authors Peter Greer and Chris Horst discuss how organizations drift from their original mission in this episode of The Exchange.

Peter Greer is the President and CEO of HOPE International, a Christian faith-based, nonprofit focused on alleviating physical and spiritual poverty through microenterprise development. Chris Horst is the organization's development director. Together they wrote Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches.

Cast: Ed Stetzer

Tags: Peter Greer, Chris Horst, Mission Drift, Christianity, Leadership and Aid Agency

Read ED Stetzer's Books

See All

Follow Christianity Today

Christianity Today
Race Matters: Unity in Christ Triumphs Over Misunderstanding