Why I pray for racial reconciliation...
From the MenPray. blog (05/13/15):
Let me start by saying that this is a subject that I could talk about all day because it is one that I am passionate about; not because of my ethnicity and views on injustice, but because of my appreciation for what Christ offers us on earth through his sacrifice. I’d also like to share that this blog may be hard to take in if you do not believe that race is an issue that leads to sin and is detrimental to the body of Christ. However I am not an expert in the subject, just a believer in Christ that seeks to be obedient to my calling.
Last month, Men Pray. attended the Kainos Movement Conference. We chose to attend because we firmly believe that the bride of Christ is to be a reflection of God’s grace and a trailer for what the new heaven will look like. Believers of all different shapes, sizes, backgrounds, colors, and traditions. Christ died so that we would all be a part of one body however we are not and will not be the same. Revelation 7:9 shows us that “a great multitude will be in heaven made up of every nation, tribe, people and tongue.” This shows us that there is not only distinction among believers once we leave this earth, but appreciation for those differences as well. Jesus prays in what we refer to as the Lord’s Prayer, “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” So if John’s preview of a future glory (displayed in the book of Revelation) is God’s perfect will, then Christ desires that we pray and pursue that same thing here on earth. Unity of diverse people, brought together, all bearing God’s Image is part of God’s perfect will for the church.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 3:10-11)
It’s God’s will
When Paul wrote letters to the Church in Ephesus, he addressed the problem of Jews and Gentiles becoming one for the sake of the body of Christ. He spends most of chapter 2 painting a picture of reconciliation; explaining that all who were not a part of Israel were without hope… ALL! Yet, through Christ's sacrifice, everyone who once had no chance, was now given a chance to live eternally in glory with Him. In this passage, we see phrases like“For He is our peace who has destroyed the barrier of hostility between the two…” and “In His body he has reconciled both to God through the cross”. Which means not only was there hostility between the two (Jew and Gentile) but both were in hostility with God, and neither had a shot without Him.
In order to understand reconciliation, we must first understand that in the eyes of the Lord, none of us had a shot at salvation, away from Him who died on the cross. Ephesians 3 backs this up by expressing that this was a part of God’s gracious plan all along. To reconcile man back to himself. The gospel is the story of reconciliation (Separation between man and God, is eliminated by a gracious act of filling the gap with love through death on a cross and resurrection into heaven, while including all who believe) …
The Church needs it
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “11 am on a Sunday morning is one of the most segregated time in our country.” Although we are progressively seeing more diversity in our nation, churches and places of worship are still some of the least diverse gatherings. In 1998, only 7% of churches were labeled “multicultural” (Meaning no one race made up more than 80% of the congregation). America's neighborhoods are about 10x more diverse and schools are 20x more diverse than the American church. To understand how this effects the church’s mission requires us to reflect on what we have been called to do. Minority churches have 20x less financial resources than traditional Anglo-churches, which stints the impact that they can make in their communities (which are usually in worst shape). If the majority of the poor, fatherless and homeless (whom we have been called to serve) are in communities where there are less flexible churches, then those communities become under-served. Some may think the answer is going into those communities a few times per week to provide meals and clean clothes, but God’s design for the church is much more than that.Ephesians 3:10 shows us that God purposed the church to show off his supreme wisdom and glory… even to those beings in heaven. If the angels will be shown God’s glory through an active display of the gospel… then why aren’t we pushing towards that on earth. The authorities and rulers on earth should not have to questions the heart of the church when it comes to loving and caring for all people. Without the church taking on an overarching mission to love all people (through pain, circumstance and position), we will not fully be working towards God's purpose for us. The world is currently doing what God has designed the church on a grander scale and much more efficiently. Let that sink in and remember it when you are ministering to others.
Reconciliation is a reflection of our belief in the gospel
Reconciliation can be intimidating because there is no way to reconcile without one party reaching out to another. One must put aside hatred and pride to reach towards another whom he is in hostility with. Reconciling in our the English language means bringing back together. Ironically, this word when used by Paul was a new one for the New Testament. It is not used by any other writer of the Bible and is better transliterated as to restore to a favorable state. Reconciling doesn’t mean that groups of people put themselves aside for the sake of peace amongst the church. Rather, it is the cause of God restoring man into a state that is favorable and pleasing to Him. Reconciliation comes from One, by One and through One. GOD. From the Father, by Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The new creation that God established in Christ isn’t to be confused with an earthly view of unity or oneness but rather from a godly view. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). We are to seek reconciliation of all people, no matter the differences through Christ and the power that He has given us. We aren’t reconciling with each other, but rather, being reconciled together in Him (Ephesians 2:16). The church has to “make every effort to keep unity” and this is done by the Spirit. Being one with all who believe isn’t about a particular race, but rather accepting in full faith, God’s plan for those who will be saved through Christ.
Overall, I pray for racial reconciliation because I believe that I (just like all who are believers in Christ) have been called to do so. The current state of our nation needs to be intentionally treated with the love of Christ by His church. In order to obey His word of glorifying Him throughout the world, we have to take on the responsibility of being the example for how hate, discrimination and violence can be destroyed by the one true God.
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
For more information about the Kainos Movement, please visit http://kainos.is/
-Much of the statistical data provided was collected during the Kainos Movement Conference(2015), and was delivered by Dr. Michael Emerson of Rice University.