By DeAron Washington
Racial Reconciliation is not what you think. It has become a popular term in evangelical circles. It seems like all the cool Christians are talking about racial reconciliation. But what do they mean by the term? Many have confused racial reconciliation with myths. These myths result in individuals believing that race relations aren’t that bad. I would like to dispel the myths and expand on a fact.
Myth #1 Racial reconciliation is only ethnic diversity. “We need more minorities here.”
Diversity happens at grocery stores, schools, and workplaces. It can happen by accident because it only involves people sharing space. The churches in the 1830’s were diverse. The white folk sat in the front while the black slaves sat in the back on the floor. The Ephesian and Roman churches had diversity, but not reconciliation. The churches still had ethnic divisions, despite being members of the same churches. This resulted in Paul writing about how the gospel is for the Jews and the Gentiles.
Racial Reconciliation is only achieved by intentional action. It takes more than sharing space. It takes sharing our hearts. We can go to church with each other, have many conversations, and even break bread together without understanding one another. Diversity is essential for racial reconciliation, but it demands more than diversity.
Myth #2 Racial Reconciliation is color-blindness “I don’t see color.”
Color-blindness is a refusal to see how God purposefully made his creations. It says there is more beauty in uniformity than in diversity. Would we admire a rainbow more if it were one color? Could we enjoy a zoo that contained 1,000 sloths of the same species? What if there was only one type of music?
We enjoy differences. It is naive to ignore our God given differences. People adopt the concept of colorblindness because they don’t want to be labeled a racist. But denying color is offensive. I love how God gave me a little more melanin and how he made my hair thick. To say you don’t see it is to say you don’t see part of me. You are denying the parts of me I love.
Racial Reconciliation seeks to acknowledge and embrace differences, not dismiss them. The Bible does acknowledge and embrace differences. The Bible talks about Jews, Cushites, Samaritans, and many more ethnicities. Revelation 7:9 gives us a glimpse into heaven. It is a beautiful portrait because every color and every race are worshiping as one. To deny the beauty in God’s diverse kingdom is heresy and that is not racial reconciliation.
Myth# 3 Racial Reconciliation is a social issue “That’s for the liberals.”
No political party has the power to bring racial reconciliation. We ought not give them a task that belongs to the church. The church has the gospel which is the power unto salvation to the Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16). No strategic program or frequent fellowship has the supernatural power of our gospel. Let’s not push this mission aside and hand it over to the world. It’s the Church's mission.
Our mission is to “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 all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). How are we to reach those in the Middle East if we hold on to prejudice? What about those who you profile as thugs? The sin of partiality will limit our evangelism, if we let it.
The fulfillment of the Great Commission requires the whole church pursuing the lost together. This mission will fail without racial reconciliation. One race can’t bear the weight of this task alone. But imagine what all races could achieve if we reconcile.
Fact: Racial Reconciliation is a sanctification issue “It takes the power of God to kill racism”
I worry more about the racism that hides under the white steeples than the white sheets. Christians can be racist and support racist systems. I know we don’t like to think this way. We like to tell ourselves we are not racist because we are not members of the KKK or we don’t use the n-word. Everyone thinks we love everyone and we teach our kids to love everyone. We say we can’t be racist because we have friends who are minorities or have been on foreign mission trips. But to say you don’t struggle with racism would be to say you are better than the apostle Peter and the early church.
God confronted Peter three times in a vision (Acts 10:9-16) about his racism against Gentiles. Paul in Galatians 2:11-14 rebuked him for his racism.
The early church mistreated the Hellenist widows (Acts 6:1-7). They criticized Peter for going to the Gentiles (Acts 11:2). Several believers in the church only preached the gospel to Jews (Acts 11:19).
Have we become holier than Peter? Are we better than the early church? In other words, are our churches void of racism? Sadly, the answer is no. It still lies in the hearts of faithful believers.
“For too long the depth of racism in American life has been underestimated”
Dr. Martin Luther King ,Jr.
If we underestimate racism we are underestimating the power of sin. Racism is a sin that still plagues America. More importantly, it remains welcome in a number of our churches. We are too weak to eradicate racism in ourselves. It requires the power of God working in us toward sanctification.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can be free from the power of racism, prejudice, and partiality. Yet, this requires repentance and confession.
Beloved, we must acknowledge we struggle with partiality and confess it as individuals, churches, and institutions.
My Definition of Racial Reconciliation
Racial Reconciliation-is the active pursuit of living in harmony with one another and loving our neighbors from all ethnic backgrounds, which will be achieved through the application of the gospel through sanctification.
DeAron Washington currently studies counseling here at NOBTS and also works with our student organization Breaking Barriers.