By Dr. Crawford Lorrits, Crosswalk.com
Well, a Biblical view of racial harmony has to do with the nature of the church, what we were intended to be. In Revelation 7, there's that noble vision of in heaven there's going to be every tribe, every tongue, and every nation. Well, some will park it there and say, "Well that's in heaven. What about here?" Well my theology and understanding of the church, and my ecclesiology is that the church is a representation of an ultimate reality. That we're to be the visible models of what that reality is all about, and I don't mean in some spiritual sense, the universal church and all around the world, so that represents ... No, no. I think wherever we possibly can be that visible model, we should be that.
For example, in the New Testament, there's not one, not one church is ... Well, every church in the New Testament is multi-ethnic. Every one. And that ought to say something. Now you got to understand, even during the time of Paul, arguably, they were more polarized, segregated, and there's just racial hostility than we have now. But when Paul went to a city, what did he do? Well, first he went to the synagogue, and he preached to the Jews, and the Jews gave their hearts and lives to Jesus, and then he left the synagogue and went out to the agora or the marketplace, and he preached to the Gentiles. But he didn't say, "Okay, so now we have these Jewish believers and these Gentile believers, we know they can't stand each other, so I'll tell you what, let's just have these two churches, and maybe we'll exchange choirs, and we'll eventually get together. Mm-mm. Immediately, immediately, he put them together. Was it messy? Absolutely. But it represented the integrity of the gospel.
And so I think when deal with the issue of racial harmony, we have to understand that the reason why God let the church in the world is to model to the world what they were ultimately to become and what they were born for. And the reason why we don't have a lot of racial harmony in our society, obviously, the fallenness of mankind, sin, and it's gonna continue till Jesus returns, but one of my big burdens is that the church is being negligent concerning its prophetic identity and what we ought to be to a watching world, and to do the heavy lifting there. We've adopted approaches to church growth and this kind of thing that, in a sense, make us scientific racists. And because something is difficult, we shy away from it. We'd rather gravitate toward people who are like us and people who will affirm us and people who see things the way we see them, and in a very real sense we're just mirroring the turmoil that we're seeing in the culture.
So I think part of the mandate is when you talk about racial harmony, it's not a cheap thing. We have to confront our sin. We have to confront our own natures. We have to confront the things that we're uncomfortable about. But I gotta tell you, distance always breeds suspicion. You continue to hang out with people who reaffirm stereotypes and reaffirm patterns of thinking and this kind of thing, and in that regard we're no different than the world.
Just another word on this. My heart is broken over this whole situation in this regard. Back in the 60's, the church, the evangelical wing of the church, had an incredible opportunity to step forward and to give hope and to speak a word of the gospel. And we could have very well seen one of the greatest reformations of society and spiritual awakenings in the history of the church in the western world, but we were deafeningly silent. The reason we were silent in the 60's is because the fundamentalist liberal controversy in our history in the past, we didn't want to be over associated with liberals and we got into adamant, and we said, "I'm afraid of a social gospel" and this kind of thing, and so we sat on our hands, our mouths were closed, and by large, we missed an opportunity.
I think it's interesting that God in his sovereignty and providence is allowing this to be revisited right now in the great polarization and and division that's in our nation. I think we have another opportunity. I'm excited about what I see in some circles in the evangelical community, but we need to speak up and begin being the prophetic ... as I said earlier, the desired destination at which the culture needs to arrive, and have the courage to say that racism, injustice, whatever it might be, is always wrong, always evil, and it should never be tolerated. That's the way the Bible deals with it. But we've got to stop accommodating complacency about these things and answering questions that nobody's asking anymore.
That's probably a long way around to answering your question, but it's gonna take some heavy lifting in order for us to really model ... the solution is obvious and clear. The solution to racism is not ... you don't have to get a PhD in social construct to figure out what's the solution to racism. The solution is obvious and the solution is clear. Now, the will to get there, that's difficult. That's where the problem is.