February 10 – Responsibility in Race Relations

February 10 – Responsibility in Race Relations

Galatians 3:26-28

“…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28)

Political action is necessary, but only a cure of the spirit can bring about a lasting solution. Only the transforming work of Christ in the human heart is adequate to the sin problem. But the problem remains: Racism has infected the church with the same virus. In fact, sometimes the strain within the church seems more virulent and less subject to cure than outside. How can the church cleanse and heal its own members and then become God’s instrument to cleanse and heal society?

The New Birth. New people alone can build a new society. But church membership does not bring this about automatically. The most severe racial problems have been in the southern states and in South Africa where the incidence of born-again church members is high. Historically, black Christians, under far greater provocation, have overcome racial prejudice more than white, though this seems to be changing. How does one get Christians to behave like Christians?

Teaching. The church has the responsibility to teach the truth that we are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26-28; Eph. 2:11-14; 4:3-4; Col. 3:10-11). But since attitudes are so enculturated as to be unconscious, the church must apply this truth rigorously, pointing out the insidious outcroppings of racial prejudice and God’s hatred of this sin against the unity of his body.

Personal Relations. Teaching must be activated in the personal relationship of differing races on the job, in the community, in the home, and in the church. The loving fellowship intended by the Father among members of his family must be lived out. “Teaching” includes spiritual supervision, of course, so that members of the church are disciplined in living what is taught.

Truly new people who are taught and disciplined in Scripture, sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and obedient to the Lord of the church can make a difference. Differing races of people of this kind can build godly personal relations and wake a culture-bound church. The awakened, free church can influence its community to build a more just and merciful society.

Structure and Program. The church must not only teach and help individuals find the right way, it must eliminate every direct or indirect church policy of racial discrimination.

Affirmative Action. It would be absurd to insist that all who speak different languages must belong to the same local congregation when more than one language group has a church. There are other “languages” as well — cultural and theological. Ways of worship differ radically, and doctrinal issues are important to people. Must all be forced into the same local congregation when more than one type of fellowship is available? Does “affirmative action” mean that Scripture requires every African American church, for example, to aggressively recruit whites until there is a racial balance equivalent to society at large? I believe this goes beyond any biblical mandate. On the other hand, though churches and other groups tend to develop along lines of cultural compatibility, this does not give license for any church to put formal or informal impediments to full participation by anyone, regardless of race, social status, or any other nonmoral characteristic.[7]

[7] Introduction to Biblical Ethics (IBE), Robertson McQuilkin, (2014), 111.

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