Gospel Implications For Racial Reconciliation

by Grace Pike July 1, 2020

Present since the fall of humanity, the bitterness of suffering is difficult to ignore. Though the results of the fall may have rippled through our lives before now, we haven’t always acknowledged the waves of sin’s consequences crashing through our world.

When massive bushfires swept across Australia and whispers of World War III emerged during the first months of 2020, we were hesitant to admit our hopes for the beginning of the new year (and decade) were dwindling. For many, these hopes were extinguished with the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In some ways, the loss of normalcy brought awareness. All we took for granted suddenly carried proper weight; absence stirred affection. As the global health crisis forced the world to look mortality in the eyes and taste the sting of death, questions of meaning and eternity stirred in people’s hearts. Yet there was still so much more to awaken to.

One of the most jarring events of this year occurred when George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25th. This was by no means the first instance of police brutality in America, but the incontrovertible, heart-wrenching video evidence sparked protests and conversations across the globe about racial injustice.

Though “dark clouds of racial prejudice” and “deep fog of misunderstanding” loomed over U.S. soil since our country’s birth, some Americans are noticing the reality of injustice in our nation for the first time.[1] There is a myriad of reactions to this reality, but how should followers of Christ respond?

The answer is not simple. To attempt all-inclusive instruction in the span of an article would not only be unwise, but unhelpful and unkind. What can be acknowledged, though, is God’s work throughout redemptive history—namely Christ’s life, death, and resurrection—has definitive implications for the way we should view racial reconciliation.

Ignoring injustice does not align with the heart of God. The Father instructs His people to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly” with Him (Mic. 6:8). Jesus, who “himself is our peace,” has “broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” between cultures and people groups (Eph. 2:14). The Spirit enables us to fulfill the Great Commission commanded by Christ, bringing glory to God by taking the gospel to all nations (Matt. 28:18-20).

As followers of God, we set our minds on things above while acting as ambassadors of His Kingdom here and now; ever aware of the beautiful promise of people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9). It is through Christ all this is made possible, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:19-20).

The past six months were full of lament. Though this cultural moment is unique, the truth “there is nothing new under the sun” echoes through my mind every time I open the Psalms. The valley of the shadow of death was well-trod before us and, barring the return of Christ, there will be more footsteps after us. How do we continue walking through this weary world?

Real “pain, questions, and frustrations rag[e] in our souls,” but we must remember to trust God’s character as we cry out to Him.[2]  As we embrace His goodness in all things and seek to be conformed to His image, we will find comfort. As we follow His guidance, we will work for justice and righteousness knowing it is only possible by the blood of Christ.

We must not be content to continue unchanged, for that is not the calling of the Christian. Weep, pray, work, listen, grow. As the author of Every Moment Holy Douglas McKelvey wrote:

“We have wept so often.

And we will weep again.

And yet, there is somewhere in our tears

a hope still kept.

We feel it in this darkness,

like a tiny flame,

when we are told

Jesus also wept.

You wept.

So moved by the pain of this crushed creation,

you, O Lord, heaved with the grief of it,

drinking the anguish like water

and sweating it out of your skin like blood.

Is it possible that you—in your sadness

over Lazarus, in your grieving for

Jerusalem, in your sorrow in the garden—

is it possible that you have sanctified

our weeping too?

For the grief of God is no small thing,

and the weeping of God is not without effect.

The tears of Jesus preceded

a resurrection of the dead.”

* If you haven’t already, I encourage you to read the Evangelical Statement on Racism and the Gospel. Add your signature at this link to “Join with us in affirming the power of the gospel and declaring the evil of racism”: https://www.evangelicalstatement.com/sign

* All Scripture is taken from the ESV

[1] Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html

[2] Mark Vroegop, “Dare to Hope in God: How to Lament Well”, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dare-to-hope-in-god