Thursday, July 07, 2016

Racial Indifference...and My Repentance

The Barna Group has released this bit of polling: "73% of adults agree that Christian churches play an important role in racial reconciliation."

Even granting that some of those Americans are clueless about the Church, its message, or its role--including many Christians--I think that this sizable majority of our neighbors (a way larger number than the number of people who will vote for the winning candidate in this presidential election) are right.

We Christians and we of the Church do have a role in working for racial reconciliation.

My efforts in this area have been in fits and spurts for years.

And I still think that political action is the least important thing that individual Christians can do on any social issue.

Mostly, I believe, that if we can teach, preach, and live the whole truth of Scripture--that all people are sinners in need of the forgiveness and life-changing grace God offers through the crucified and risen Jesus Christ--hearts, minds, wills, and racial attitudes will be changed.

But we are also called to speak words of justice. And in this, I find myself wanting.

As a boy, I was taught to sing, "Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight." I believe that...with all my heart. I preach that. I teach that. I believe that it's a truth that comes straight from my Savior, Who is Lord of all peoples.

And yet, there is more to be done. Not necessarily by the Church or by pastors, but by all Christians energized by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And not necessarily, as I say, by political actions, but in actions of all kinds streaming from hearts made clean and new and eternal by Christ.

I suspect that many of us need to repent when it comes to our racial attitudes, whether they're the attitudes of indifference buttressed by remaining enveloped in our own race cultures or racism itself. Indifference may be the worst of these two things, as horrible as racism is, because, as has been observed, the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference.

In my heart, I'm not indifferent. But I have been indifferent in my praying and, in recent years, in my living. For that, I repent, and ask that God would show me what I can do through Christ, to bridge the chasms between people.

Tonight, my heart is broken by, among other things, the ongoing tensions between black and white America, the continuation of racism and injustice, which we must acknowledge, I think, whether it's determined that what happened in Louisiana and Minnesota were justified police actions or not.

Speaking for myself and, I believe, the wonderful police officers I've known throughout my life, the videos of those two incidents are horrifying. Horrifying! (I think especially of the little four year old girl who was in the car when four bullets ripped into the body of the man behind the wheel.)

But even beyond these incidents, we must acknowledge that there is a barrier between blacks and whites. If you are a Christian--conservative, liberal, whatever, you and I know, brothers and sisters, that, among us at least, race should not be a barrier.

Jesus died for all.

Jesus rose for all.

And all who trust in Him, whatever their race, can have life with Him as they turn from their sin and follow Him.

Tonight, I ask Christ to help me to turn away from my past racial indifference and to show me the way living my life with less indifference and more of the love of Christ.

[Blogger Mark Daniels is the pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church, Centerville, Ohio.]

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