Over the past week, we have watched with horror at the trouble our southern neighbours have experienced. Police brutality. Violence and looting. Peaceful protests. Racist words. Cities burning.
But these situations have not remained south of the border. Just the other day, our Prime Minister was asked his thoughts about the American situation, and he took 20+ seconds to respond. Other political leaders (both past and present), when asked if Canada had a problem with systemic racism, had to backtrack from earlier statements.
As a church family that is in a primarily Caucasian community, matters of racism and urban distress can be hard to understand. While all of us have interactions with people of various backgrounds, the complexities, nuances, and multi-layered challenges related to issues of race can be challenging.
As Christians, there are several theological principles that can help guide our thinking. First, the Scriptures affirm that all humans are made in the image of God and are endowed with the dignity of the Creator (Gen. 1:27). Second, all humanity is united in Adam’s sin (1 Cor. 15:22). Because Adam was our representative head, all humans are born with the need for redemption (Rom. 5:12-20). Third, God’s plan to restore the brokenness that sin has created is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 5:15-17). Christ’s death broke down the divisions that separated humanity one from another, and in Christ he is making one new humanity – united in him (Eph. 2:11-22). And God’s plan is to have a multi-coloured, multi-ethnic people who will gather together before the throne of God (Rev. 5:9).
But there is one last piece that we dare not miss: God’s display to the world that his multi-coloured, multi-ethnic plan will be accomplished is the local church (see Eph. 3:8-10). Salvation in Christ is an equal opportunity: there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female who have the corner on saving grace. Therefore Christians should reflect the heart of God – a God who welcomes and embraces the stranger, the foreigner, the disadvantaged, the widow, the orphan, the poor (see Lev. 19:34; Jas. 1:27).
What does this mean for us as a local church? First, it means that we recognize that we have more in common with others than we have differences – made in God’s image, all having experienced the effects of sin and death. Second, though we have much in common, our differences tempt us to fear one another (see Gal. 2:14) and pull away from those who are different than us. Therefore, just as God made the first move towards us, we ought to be people who initiate the first move towards others. Third, because God’s grace is at work in a common way and because sin is sneaky and pervasive, we ought to expect that there will be points of connection and points of friction. We will have our cultural blind-spots as will others. But if, in humility, we consider others better than ourselves and love our neighbour as we love ourselves, we can demonstrate that the Church of Jesus Christ is truly the display of Christ’s hope in the world.
While these matters are complex because of the multi-layers of sin, may we be a church that displays that Christ is our hope, and he is the hope of the world!
Let’s display the multi-coloured wisdom of Christ to the world (Eph. 3:10)!
Missional Action Prayer: Lord, where I have not loved others who are different than me, please forgive me. Help me to love others as I love myself. And may I be an ambassador who brings your message of reconciliation to those around me. In Christ we come to you, the great Reconciler of all. Amen.