Racial unity: Can we move on?
    August 20 2018 by Dan Darling

    I’m often asked by well-meaning Christians, “Why do we have to keep talking about race?” And the best answer I can give is this: the Bible keeps talking about race.
     

    Jesus offered the gospel as something for “all nations” or “all ethnicities” (Matthew 28:19). Luke details how, at Pentecost, people were present from “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). This means the good news, made possible because of the death, burial and resurrection of a dark-skinned Middle-Eastern man, is a gospel for every kind of person, everywhere.
     
    Jesus is calling together a multi-ethnic people who will one day gather around his throne: “And they sang a new song, saying, ‘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’ (Revelation 5:9-10).
     
    “… After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9).
     
    The presence of “every ... nation,” “from all tribes and peoples and languages” around His throne, reflects God’s delight in diversity. He is the one who created, from Adam, the variety of tongues and tribes and nations. He is the one who is calling and building a new people in Christ. He is the one who, in Jesus, creates “one, new man” (Ephesians 2:15).
     
    This is where we are heading. And when we pray, “Your kingdom come,” this is what we are asking for – to be fully realized by our King’s return, and to be experienced in our lives and by our behavior as fully as possible as we wait for the King’s return. This is not a liberal or conservative ideal but a reflection of the fullest expression of humanity and of the heart of Christ.
     
    Of course, between Jesus’ first coming and His second, the real-world reality of God’s work in the world and in the church is often messy and hard and uneven. It has always been so.
     
    The early church struggled with race. Paul was forced to address this reality to congregations struggling to unify Jewish believers and Gentile converts. They were seeing the Spirit of God bring people from a variety of nations and cultures. One of the churches Paul planted, in Ephesus, was situated in a busy metropolis and attracted merchants from around the Roman Empire.
     
    Paul says this ingathering of people was a feature, not a bug, of the gospel: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near” (Ephesians 2:14-17).
     
    Paul was speaking here about Jews and Gentiles – a racial division that was very entrenched, very antagonistic, historically very complex and as seemingly intractable as anything we struggle with and labor under the burden of today. Yet Paul dares to say that in the gospel of Christ, the dividing wall of hostility has been broken down; and therefore within the people of Christ, the walls must always be kept down.
     
    Racial unity is not incidental to gospel witness but a feature of the gospel’s work.
     
    We are “one new man” – or one race – and yet we delight in our diversity. The gospel overcomes suspicion and pride – those barriers to fellowship and love and unity – yet it refuses to erase our racial identities.
     
    God delights in a people made up of the beautiful, diverse peoples He created in His image and called “good.”
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – This article was adapted from chapter in Dan Darling’s new book, The Dignity Revolution: Reclaiming God’s Rich Vision for Humanity. Used by permission.)

    8/20/2018 1:33:34 PM by Dan Darling | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Dan Darling, race relations




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