By Marvin Jones
PINEVILLE – Imagine a world where racial tension and racial inequity does not exist.
A SKIN SIN
Imagine a world where issues of biological racism are never given credence or credibility – where prejudice towards another person because of his family or race doesn’t exist.
Biological racism can only survive when we deny the imago dei to all human beings.
Biological racism survives when one ethnic group considers another ethnic group to be sub-human because of their birth. So imagine a world where people consider their fellow human beings valuable and worthy of respect because of their status as God’s creation in His image.
Imagine a world where cultural racism is non-existent – where cultural differences no longer create barriers that divide the populace. Imagine a world that does not advance the cause of racial tension in cultural dynamics.
Imagine a world where humanity does not promote racial distinction as harmful but embraces racial differences, gender differences, social, and economic differences as God given design to promote the well-being of all humanity.
RECONCILED IN CHRIST
The problem is that any given society – all of humanity for that matter – can only imagine such a world, unless it seeks the answer to its racial problems in the ministry of reconciliation that Christ offers through his church.
The answer to biological and/or cultural racism is nothing less than the redemptive act of Jesus Christ – and the mission and ministry of the church is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ!
The church is the place where grace is given to all humanity regardless of race, class, gender, or economic barriers. Ephesians 2:14-18 demonstrates that each person in this broken humanity can be reconciled in Christ and then reconciled to one another, and verse 21 declares the Holy Spirit inhabits this reconciled community as a holy temple, “the whole building being fitted together.”
Racial reconciliation is rooted in the Gospel, and the message of the church is the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
AT THE CROSS
The church is more than just a redemptive ministry, and, it is more than just an advocate for social justice – but it also is nothing less.
The redemptive act of God in Christ means that people, who are hostile to God and to one another, can be reconciled to Him and with each other, and come together as one new humanity (Eph. 2:15). The act of redemption means that redeemed humanity lives not only in equality, but also in peace, because of the cross.
Ephesians 2:14 states the position of the redeemed: “For He is our peace.”
How did this happen? He removed the barrier between us and Him represented by the veil in the temple. The death of Christ means that access to the Father is available for all people.
But God also tore down the “dividing wall” that separated Jews and Gentiles in the Jewish Temple, by the flesh of Jesus Christ.
This represents the tearing down of obstacles to experiencing the “peace of Christ” as one people of many races, ethnicities, tongues and tribes.
On the threshold of the cross all people are welcome. As a result, the redeemed sit together, pray together, worship together, accomplish ministry together – as a “new humanity” in the Lord’s church.
The idea of a new humanity is evident in the phrase “one body” (Eph. 2:16). The redeemed as “one body” implies that there were two or more bodies, but now there is a singleness of purpose and structure as Believers.
The “one body” principle is an idea, a construct not fully realized in the church nor the contemporary world. Yet, the Bible insists the church can and should strive to be a people, composed of various ethnic groups, coming together as one body.
IN HIS IMAGE
Therefore, imagine a church where the ministry of Christ becomes the mission of the redeemed.
Imagine a church that contends for racial equality not only for members but for all humanity.
Imagine a congregation that finds itself as the example of Christ’s new, living, redeemed humanity demonstrating God’s love for all people.
Imagine a church where social justice is evidenced in social ministry (Acts 6).
Imagine a church, in Louisiana, that dares to implement the mission of Christ in its ministry.
Imagine a church demonstrating racial harmony, racial unity, and radical transformation to a world that needs to see the victory of Christ over racial sin.
Imagine a world that can be impacted by such a church that can exist in Louisiana.
Imagine your church becoming that church!
Marvin Jones, Ph.D., is professor of Theology and Church History with Louisiana College. His column is part of a series of commentaries provided by Louisiana College relating to the Southern Baptist Convention’s calendar of Special Emphasis Sundays.