Racial Reconciliation: The Grace Relations Way

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Introduction

The last thing pastors want is another divisive issue to draw them away from preaching the Word, and it is understandable why some pastors avoid racial reconciliation like a deadly plague or a destructive volcano! Can believers develop an “us and us” versus a “them and us” process for addressing race relations?

The Grace (rather than race) Relations way offers a doctrinally sound, gospel-centered way to encourage believers to grow in our love for God and one another.

The Grace (rather than race) Relations way offers a doctrinally sound, gospel-centered way to encourage believers to grow in our love for God and one another. It is our hope that pastors will come to the Answers Conference prepared to be encouraged to preach the Word in a way that makes disciples of all people groups.

Church doctrinal statements, mission and value statements, communication platforms, new members curriculum, and church discipline processes should clearly communicate sound doctrine, which includes addressing racial reconciliation.

Secret Thoughts

After forty minutes of listening to a man share with me the multiplicity of problems he was experiencing, I must confess that I secretly prayed to God, “Please don’t save this man!” I was counting the hours, days, weeks, and months of counseling this man would require if he got saved! All I wanted to do was simply study and preach the Word!

In a similar way. I have heard from numerous pastors about their hesitancy to get into the “racial reconciliation” conversation. I imagine that some might be secretly praying: “Lord, do not increase the ethnic diversity in our church or institution!”

When it comes to the issue of race relations in the US, the voices and views are multiple, the emotions are heated, and the camps are polarized. Where do pastors look for answers to enlighten and encourage God’s people in how to navigate various worldviews and dysfunctional relationships in a God-honoring way?

A pastor has an awesome responsibility to speak the mind of God to the people of God, as revealed in the Word of God. We do not simply study the crowd, find out what they want, and give it to them. While the Bible must be applied to the times, it is not to be subservient to the times. Thus, unity across economic, cultural, and ethnic lines should be proclaimed not because it is the latest fad but rather because it is the clear teaching of the eternal Word of God.1

The Grace Way

At the Answers for Pastors Conference, we will affirm the biblical teaching that there is only one race, the human race. Furthermore, when one—anyone—repents of their sin and trusts the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for the forgiveness of sin, that person becomes part of the family of God (Romans 3:23; 5:9; 10:13)! Our thinking, teaching, and living must be grounded in reconciliation, rooted in redemption, and guided by revelation.

As the people of God, we must work together to search for biblical answers that assist all of us to deepen our love for God and others (Matthew 22:37–40; John 13:34–35; 1 John 3:10–12). We must find answers that manifest God’s grace through us! I like to discuss grace (God’s Reconciliation at Christ’s Expense) rather than race relations (Ephesians 2–3).

The grace way begins with the Bible and ends with doctrine that reconciles people who were divided due to past hurts and injustice. Some leaders want to simply forget the past and move forward; however, to forget the past one must throw away the Bible! And the majority of the Bible is dealing with history! It is precisely the Bible’s accurate communication of the past that provides an understanding of the root cause of our present dysfunction and destructive behavior. Consider the doctrines of creation, corruption, Christ and the cross, and the church.

One Race—The Human Race—Since Creation

The Bible declares (Genesis 1–3), and science affirms that there is only one race. It is critical that leaders have a clear biblical doctrine concerning the creation and unity of humanity. Eve is the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20), and we are all from one man, Adam (Acts 17:26). Racial reconciliation begins with a reconciled humanity.

Although humans were created in a state of innocence, no sin, and with harmonious relationships with God and one another, biblical history reveals an ugly reality. Although we are all related as one human race (Genesis 10:32), we are now also one sinful race (Romans 3:23)!

One Sinful Race’s Corruption

Why do humans have dysfunctional and destructive relationships today? The human race has been corrupted by sin (Romans 3:9–20)! The past sheds light on the present. Genesis 3 records the entrance of sin into the human race. Genesis 4:1–12 records how corruption polluted the heart of Cain and motivated him to kill his brother, Abel!

The doctrine of sin unveils the source of our past and present challenges regarding loving relationships. Pride, jealousy, envy, injustice, unforgiveness, and murder all are manifestations of sin. The problem of dysfunctional race relations, at its root, is sin. As believers who understand the deep, pervasive, and destructive nature of sin, we appreciate the ultimate solution: the cross.

The Gospel—The Cross Saves Us from Our Sin Not Skin

Christ’s death did not change the color of our skin; it redeemed us from our sin. Sound doctrine clarifies the universal corruption of sin and the singular solution, Christ our Savior. Through the blood of Christ, we become one body, many skin tones, reflecting our unity by transforming biblical love (Romans 3:21–30; Ephesians 4:4–6; John 13:34-35).

The Gospel Creates One Body, Known by Our Love

Those who trust Christ for the forgiveness of their sin become one blood in a deeper and eternal way! The blood, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ makes believers one new race, family, and body (Ephesians 4:4–6; 1 Peter 2:9-10; Revelation 5:9)!

Leaders are called, as instruments of God, to equip the church, the called-out ones, the body of Christ to become conformed to the image of Christ. This blood-bought, called-out community is to be known for love of one another (Matthew 22:34–40; John 13:34–35; 1 Corinthians 12:31–13:3; Revelation 2:1-7; 1 John 4:7-12,19-21). Our love—or lack thereof—speaks to our relationship with God himself!

The diminishing effects of sin’s corruption and the transforming power of the cross should be seen in our relationships. Yes, gospel-centered racial reconciliation is a manifestation of sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:5)! Both the world and principalities are watching the church for reconciliation that displays the wisdom and grace of God for humankind (Matthew 5:14-16, Ephesians 3:1-10; 1 Peter 2:12).

Grace Relations is founded upon biblical doctrines that lead to heart transformation that then manifests itself in biblical living marked by love! Pastors are called to preach the Word. Let’s engage in a racial reconciliation conversation rooted in doctrine: creation, corruption, Christ, the cross, and the church!

I am looking forward to beginning the conversation with you at the Answers for Pastors Conference. Register today at AnswersforPastors.com to secure your spot. Last year's event sold out!

Footnotes

  1. A. Charles Ware, “Multiracial Families” in Just Don't Marry One: Interracial Dating, Marriage, and Parenting, eds. George A. Yancey and Sherelyn Whittum Yancey (King of Prussia, PA: Judson Press, 2002), 28.

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