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The Good News of the Gospel Amidst Racism

January 21, 2013

Today is MLK Day. Today is also a day that God’s people get to bask in the radiance of the gospel of grace. It is a gospel that frees us from the approval of man, addictions, and death itself. It also frees us from the burden and utter stupidity of racism. Many of us are unaware of the racist tendencies we carry with us. Most reading this post grew up in Alabama or somewhere in the Bible belt where churches, schools, and neighborhoods are still highly segregated…not by law, but by social forces and injustices. Some of us are just plain scared. We like what is comfortable and for some reason familiarity breeds comfort…and that is often found in skin color and ethnic background. Perhaps there are even a few reading this who have some form of hatred toward another race. Maybe you never act it out, but it is simmering in your heart and it affects the way you chose friends, who you do business with, where you shop, and where you live.

There is no room for these attitudes in the gospel. The gospel is found stated simply in Ephesians 1:7-10. First, we have redemption through his blood. Second, his plan is to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. That means that God’s plan is to unite 35406 with Alberta City and the West End. God’s plan is to unite the white-collar lawyer with the garbage man. His plan is that there would be black children playing with white children where neither set of parents watched the other like a hawk. There is no hierarchy in God’s kingdom as his mission from the beginning is that through Israel the whole world would be blessed and that people from every tongue, tribe, and nation would worship the lamb who has washed them all clean, giving them white robes (Rev. 7:9). It is God’s plan that as we pray for his kingdom to come (Matt. 7) that we would experience actual transformation in our thoughts and activities that would cause us to deal with the pride that separates and divides.

Jesus himself did this as he traveled through a region known as Samaria. At that time, most people traveled around Samaria so as to avoid a racially mixed group dissimilar to the Jews. Jesus not only went to Samaria but healed, ate, and stayed with the people. Jesus routinely turned the Jews conceptions of race and cleanliness on its head and this is a primary example. To Jesus, race means little because he came to redeem people from every tongue, tribe, and nation so that he could unite all things under his feet. He also did this because he knew the end of the story…

Revelation 5:17 says that, “…the Lamb in the midst of their throne will be their (people from every race) shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

That is good news! The Lamb will be revealed as the shepherd of the whole world and those who have felt a racial superiority for one reason of another will be dismayed at their foolishness. But, this Lamb will also wipe away every tear that has been caused by your racist tendencies. He will heal those you have hurt. He will heal you if you have been hurt. And you will sing with those who have mutually hurt one another, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

What a beautiful future. Thank you MLK for reminding us that racism is not just a social issue but a gospel issue. Pray that the Lord would drive the gospel of grace further into your heart today so you can forgive, love, and care for all those God puts in your path.

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