We Must Not Be Ashamed of the Gospel When Addressing Racism
In the last several months, many of us have woken up to a world that has changed before our eyes. I’ve felt the need, perhaps more than ever, to submit my heart and thinking to the Word of God. The temptation to fear and be anxious is so near. I need to bring my emotions in line with the word of God.
In the last several weeks, the national conversation has shifted away from the pandemic. The issue of race and racism has been at the forefront of our national conscience. What is the church’s answer? What is our only answer? The answer is the gospel.
The Apostle Paul writes: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16).
We need to think about who is saying this. The apostle Paul was a Jew and a Pharisee. By our definitions, before he met Christ, Paul was a racist of racists. There was murderous hatred between the Jews and the Gentiles. When Paul recounted his testimony to the Jews in Jerusalem at the temple, the Jews were fine with what he said until he said that Christ called him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. It was at that moment that the Jews wanted to kill him. Such was the hatred between Jews and Gentiles.
What was the answer for Jews and Gentiles in Paul’s day? The gospel.
What is the answer to mankind today? The gospel.
If the church abandons the preaching of the gospel, we unhinge ourselves from the very power of God to work in our midst. Paul says he was not ashamed of the gospel. We must not be ashamed of the gospel, as if it is an insufficient answer, as if it is medicine that does not fit the occasion. The good news of Christ is a remedy for every ailment of our soul.
So how does the gospel address the issue of this day? The gospel says that God is the loving Creator of the one human race. There are not many races. There is only one. The human race. We have one father, Adam, and one mother, Eve. Because our father and mother sinned, all their children and their children (you and me) have been infected with the disease of sin. And sin starts primarily in the human heart.
There is not one person, not one people group, not one nation - not even God’s chosen nation Israel! - who has a special claim or an elevated status that would earn them God’s favor. We are all sinners condemned to hell apart from the grace of God. We need Christ. And Christ met our greatest need by dying on the cross 2,000 years ago for the greatest disease that infects us, the disease within us.
The cross is the greatest leveling ground for humanity. Because when we come to the cross, we all stand on equal ground as wretched sinners in need of the cross. And there at the cross, Christ gave us grace instead of judgment. He gave us peace, peace with God and His favor, by shedding His blood for our sins.
And guess what?
Christ not only gave us peace with God, He gave us peace with one another. Christ is our peace (Ephesians 2:14). People from all different backgrounds, colors, cultures have been brought together in the church by the blood of Christ.
And it is not just ethnic diversity that we celebrate. There is diversity of all different kinds. I can tell you from experience growing up in the Korean American church, that there is plenty of diversity within that community.
So, let me ask you, what brings us together? Is it a diversity program? Affirmative action? Is it our multi-cultural initiatives? Is it our ethnically diverse potlucks? Our worship songs in different languages? Our wokeness?
No! What brings us together is Christ! Christ has accomplished in the church what the world cannot do. The world is trying to accomplish peace by worldly methods. And it is failing.
But Jews and Gentiles, the two ancient people groups who hated each other, Christ reconciled in one body, the church. And by extension, He reconciled all people groups, no matter their ancient hostility, no matter the history of this country. (Ephesians 2:11-22). We are reconciled and we have peace. It was a blood bought unity. It was a blood bought peace.
This is so important to say because there are those in the church who would disrupt that peace that Christ Himself purchased. They would do so by imposing barriers to reconciliation that Christ has not placed. Christ has brought peace and reconciliation to His church in this country, overcoming the sin of our past.
This is what the world does not know and cannot know.
Tolerance does not bring us together, the blood of Christ does.
Diversity is not the goal, the glory and fame of Jesus Christ is.
Worldly philosophy does not guide us, the word of God does.
And the grace of God brings us peace. It brings us peace with God first and foremost, and then it brings us peace with our fellow man.
The prophet Isaiah said that one day the nations would come together in a common pursuit.
“All the nations shall flow to [the mountain of the Lord], and many peoples shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2–3).
What will bring the nations together in their pilgrimage to Jerusalem? The Word of God.
Here’s how the apostle John described worship in heaven. Those around the throne of God cry out,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth” (Rev 5:9-10).
Who is the focus on in heaven? Christ.
I grew up in a Korean-American church with Korean-American friends. Why did I come to Foothill Bible Church as a college student, when the culture here was anything but that? It was because of Christ and His Word.
We celebrate Christ. We celebrate Christ together, as redeemed, forgiven, reconciled sons and daughters of Adam. And who has reconciled us? The second Adam, Jesus Christ.
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July 7, 2020We Must Not Be Ashamed of the Gospel When Addressing Racism
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