March 13, 2015
I have been grieving over the news lately. From college students chanting racists remarks in Oklahoma to the shooting of two police offers in Ferguson, MO, yesterday. One thing is apparent – this world is broken. Very, very broken.
Side note: (If you want a great blog on race and options in regards to the Oklahoma incident, please take the time to read this essay.)
A few weeks ago, we had an event here at St. Andrew called Q Commons where two of the speakers focused on racism in America. More specifically, they asked, what is the role of the church in this fractured and racially complicated world?
The answer is – it must start with the Church. As Paul writes in Galatians 3:28: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (CEB)
If we believe in Jesus, then we must believe that Jesus overrides racial divides and even areas of perpetual disagreement. We believe that Jesus died for both the boys that are chanting racial slurs on a bus and those that experience the consequence of racism every day. In Ferguson, we believe that Jesus’ resurrection offers life to every police officer as well as those rioting and shooting at officers. Christ died for all.
But what does that really mean? How do we live as if we believe that is true?
Our church has just began a new series called “Build Your Kingdom Here” and with that we developed a series of definitions to accompany the sermon series.
Here they are:
A church is a body of believers.
The Church is the body of believers connected in a movement over time and geography.
The Purpose of the Church is to live into and bring about the kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God is where God reigns – heaven on earth.
When you think about these definitions in light of the racial divide, you can see that there is no place for racism in the Kingdom of God. Racism will not exist in heaven. So, if the purpose of the Church is to live into and bring about that ideal here on earth, that means that we are to model and pursue racial inclusion here on earth. In order for us to bring about the Kingdom of God, we must pursue a different way of life here on earth.
This is the work of THE church, and so it must be the work of EVERY church. And since it is the work of EVERY church, it means that the work to create equality on earth is OUR job. Every Christian is to pursue justice and an end to racism in every part of our lives and systems.
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” (Colossions 1:13)
“Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)
At the Q Conference we heard from Trey Hill, Director of Mercy Street Ministries in West Dallas, who talked about having real relationships with people who are different from us. What amazed me about his story is, that in order to do his job in the inner city of West Dallas, he actually moved to West Dallas. He reminded us that we don’t all have to move to a different community, but we must pursue relationships with those who are different from us.
This isn’t something grand or noble – it is simply living like we believe Jesus did while he was on earth. It means we are living as if God’s will can be done now on earth and done through us. May we who comprise the Church live into this and bring about his Kingdom.