Do you think it would be possible to be biblically faithful as a pastor if your church was located in an area that was recently marked by severe hostility between people groups and you didn’t make a proactive effort to help the believers in your church live radically different lives in terms of the way they related to the other people groups on a daily basis in the community around them and specifically even in the church itself?
Now, I know that question is probably too vague. I am even looking at it wondering exactly what I am asking. But communication is difficult. I don’t want to say too much or too little. But maybe to help, I can try to be more specific.
Would it be possible to be a biblically faithful pastor say in the Southern part of the United States five or ten years after slavery was abolished and not be deliberately and intentionally seeking to help one’s congregation to pursue people of different ethnic groups with the love of Christ?
I ask that because I know sometimes when we talk about multicultural churches and all of that, it can feel to some people like, oh man, isn’t there more to talk about and the answer of course, is yes there is like, a lot more to talk about. But, that said, maybe at certain times and certain seasons in certain areas, there are specific issues that need to be continually addressed until changes are made?
Anyway, I am just thinking out loud this Monday afternoon after reading an interesting article by Daniel Wallace entitled The Transracial Implications of the Gospel. I will give you his conclusion (and I have put in bold print the sentence that really stood out to me) and encourage you if you have the chance to read the rest.
“…it is crucial—because it is an essential part of the gospel—that race should never be a roadblock to the fullest fellowship that Christians can have. In 1963, Martin Luther King complained, “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” Over fifty years later, and that observation is sadly still true in much of the United States. I have long believed that one of the key marks of authentic Christianity is the heterogeneous nature of the body of Christ. When a black man sits next to a white woman who is next to a rich man sitting beside a poor man; when an educated white woman fellowships with a poor, uneducated immigrant; when a clean-shaven, well-dressed man sits beside a facial-pierced, tattooed girl in grunge clothes; when the fellowship of the saints cannot be attributed in any way to natural inclinations—only then will the world see that we truly love each other—and that ours is a supernatural love.
But how can we accomplish this? First, we must repent of our corporate sins. Especially those in power, those who control the church, must do this. Sin is not just individual. Americans tend to think only in individual terms, and it’s time we grow out of this myopic, narcissistic view and embrace the more biblical view of individuals in community. Second, we must reach out to those who are not like us. We must seek out folks of different ethnicity to be on the pastoral staff, on the elder board, in the classroom as instructors. Today’s take-away application of the Great Commission is surely that true evangelism means getting outside our comfort zone. But we must not stop there. We must go the extra mile and truly fellowship with those unlike us. May God help us to embrace the transracial implications of the gospel and to, once and for all, end the apartheid of Sunday mornings.”