By way of introduction, I am quoting several articles that appeared in the ‘Christianity Today Magazine’ recently.
The first article is written by Esau McCauley:
‘In contrast to Christ’s disciples, we experienced Pentecost this year in the aftermath of a woe, following a trauma, in the context of a tragedy. The protests and riots of Minneapolis (and so many other cities) follow the death of George Floyd, who was choked to death while handcuffed and pleading for his life.
For nine minutes, a police officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck while the man called for his mother. This occurred in the wake of the killings of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. And all this takes place within the wider context of a global pandemic that has killed at least 100,000 people in the USA alone.
Some will assume that I’m bringing politics into the church. They’ll wonder why I’m not upset about black-on-black crime, or the breakdown of the black family, or abortion, or looting, or whatever topic that helps us avoid looking at the thing itself. That “thing” is the 400-year history of racial trauma and oppression still plaguing blacks in this country.
What do protests, riots, and police brutality have to do with Pentecost and the passage in Acts 2? Does the death of the Messiah for our sins have anything to do with how we approach the flames of Minneapolis? Does the church have something to say, or will we be discipled by Fox News on the one hand and MSNBC on the other? As the country is divided, what do the words of Scripture mean right now?
Secondly, I quote Efrem Smit, a former pastor from Minneapolis;
“Evangelicalism needs a more humble posture of receiving and learning. Allow the church that has been deemed the other, the marginalized church, to be the teacher at this moment, and to have the most dominant form of the church in America be the student who is learning to share power.”
Thirdly, his successor, and current New Testament professor Dennis Edwards, called for a revolution of love, empowered by righteous anger at all the injustice racism in America moments. He goes on to say; ‘For an old white man like me, a longtime preacher and teacher of Scripture, I’m used to the system working for me. The problems in my church are mostly fixable and the worries in my world too often a matter of inconvenience’.
The problems of racism are not an exclusively American problem, it’s a global phenomenon that flares up in different places at different times; it stretches from Los Angeles to Tokyo and back. Racism is a human problem, born out of skewed perceptions. The question however is, how did we get to this place in history, a place where citizens grossly mistrust their political leaders and civil servants, especially the police?
What caused this seismic shift in how we determine truth and create culture?
For centuries, in western culture, the starting point for morals, values, and relationships, was the nature and character of God. The purpose of science and philosophy was to discover God’s design; art and music were intended to reflect His glory and the highest form of learning was theology. Concepts of truth and morality were inextricably linked to God’s nature and character.
The acknowledgment of an infinite, immutable God made sense of the whole of human experience and provided a valuable foundation for questions about right and wrong.
But this all began to change during a period of European history we now call ‘the renaissance’.
- The Renaissance period began in Italy in the 1300s, and over the next two centuries, spread throughout Europe.
- This period of history was characterized by great strides in literature, learning, art, and architecture.
- It also marked a significant shift in human thought.
- In contrast to the Middle Ages, Renaissance artists and thinkers exalted man and his abilities.
- This shift gave birth to a doctrine called humanism, which stressed human dignity and ability and regarded man as the center of all things, the master of his fate, the captain of his soul.
- Humanism eventually led to an unbiblical view of man and his relationship to his Creator.
The Renaissance might have had minimal impact on man’s thinking had it not been followed promptly by an era known as the Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason.
- The enlightenment began in the 1600’s and lasted through the next century.
- While the Renaissance mind acknowledged God, many leaders of the Enlightenment claimed that if there was a God who had created the world, He had no connection with it now.
- According to them, man was left to discover truth on his own.
- Standards of right and wrong were not based on the nature and character of God, but human reasoning.
In the Renaissance, man became central, In the Enlightenment, man’s reasoning became the ultimate standard.
The Industrial Revolution overlapped much of the Enlightenment period, extending from the 1700’s through the 1800’s.
- It was an explosive period of human productivity and advancement.
- The inventions, innovations, and improvements of the Industrial Age fuelled more than factory furnaces; it stoked the fires of human confidence.
- The progress that men and women saw all around them encouraged them to look to themselves for hope and guidance.
- Man, no longer felt the need to look upward; he looked inward to himself.
The furnaces of the Industrial Revolution still blazed hot when the theories of Charles Darwin, a former theological student, completed the seismic shift that the Renaissance had begun.
- Darwin’s theories presented an alternative to a theistic understanding of origins.
- God was no longer “needed” to explain or give an understanding of how the world and man, came to be.
The shift brought about by these four historical influences;
- the Renaissance,
- the Enlightenment,
- the Industrial Age,
- and Darwinism – has resulted in two distinct models of truth.
In the first model, truth is defined by God for everyone; it is objective and absolute. This model acknowledges that God – not the individual – is central, that He is the source of all things, and that he rules overall.
The second model proposes that truth is defined by the individual; it is subjective and situational. The individual is in control of moral matters; because the standard is within the individual, it is particular to that specific person.
The shift from the first model to the second has affected every aspect of our society, from the arts and music to literature and politics.
- In the 20th century culture, vain imaginations have replaced moral absolutes.
- Permissiveness and tolerance have been exalted as moral ideals.
- The definition of tolerance has been twisted to mean that all individual beliefs, values, lifestyles, and “truths” are equal in value.
Relativism has also become politically correct, and with each step away from the security of the certainty of God’s absolute truth, comes captivity. Unless and until there is a return to the absolutes of God and His Word, this captivity will continue to prevail.
Let’s set out to answer the question, what is truth?
“The truth will set you free” is a common saying in academic circles that want to promote academic freedom and the power of learning. Many universities have this statement emblazoned on a sign near the entrance of a building. But “the truth will set you free” did not originate in academia; Jesus said it in John 8:32. In context, Jesus’ statement has nothing to do with classroom learning.
He had just finished a speech at the temple where He delineated differences between Himself and His listeners.
“You are from below; I am from above, You are of this world; I am not of this world, I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:23–24).
The result of Jesus’ message was that “even as he spoke, many believed in him” (verse 30).
Then, in verse 31, Jesus begins to speak just to those who had believed. “Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples’” (John 8:31).
True discipleship is more than intellectual assent; those who are “really” followers of Christ will “hold to” His Word.
That means they will not only accept His teachings as truth, but they will also obey His teachings.
Verse 32 begins with, “Then you will know the truth, And the truth will set you free” (verse 32).
“You” in this passage refers to those who are true disciples of Jesus.
At that point in history, the Jews were under the rule of the Roman Empire. When Jesus said the truth would set them free, He was not talking about political freedom.
He provides the best commentary for his statement in verse 34.
He explains, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
The freedom Jesus offers is a spiritual freedom from the bondage of sin—that is, release from the lifestyle of habitual lawlessness.
He continues with an analogy: “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever” (verse 35).
Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6). ‘I am the way, and the truth and the life’
Knowing the Truth will set one at liberty—free from sin, free from condemnation, free from death, and free from all kinds of manmade, skewed concepts and beliefs.
Truth also sets us apart
Jesus says, “I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known so that the love You have for Me may be in them”. John 17:26
It is the Father’s express intent to influence the world through the agency of love made manifested by His Church. In many places, people have learned to work, play, and even live in communities together despite their cultural and social differences, yet the church still struggles, seemingly unable to address this issue successfully.
This is a problem that greatly hinders our testimony and delays our common responsibility to win the world to Christ. The Church needs an urgent apostolic and prophetic renaissance, master strategists who will apply themselves unreservedly to the purpose of facilitating and orchestrating oneness in the Church. I believe that the Lord has placed in His body, the Church, special leaders, equipped to create and foster unity in the CHURCH through apostolic and prophetic technology.
The third millennium brings with it many challenges and opportunities to see the kingdom of God advance and increase. The communication highways have come to serve the kingdom of God and its purposes. It is now easier than ever before in the history of humankind to establish and maintain global relationships. We can exchange concepts, calibrate ideas, teach, host webinars, and build apostolic networks through the use of the Internet.
We are poised for the greatest harvest of souls into the kingdom of God if we will abandon our mentalities of racial and ethnic hatred and thrust in the sickle, for the field is ready to be harvested.
- The world is waiting to see people that can transcend the problems that it struggles with.
- Our modern world is a “show me world” and the Church has not had much to offer in the arena of racial unity.
As citizens of the global village, we are acutely aware of the propensity of racism in every echelon of the world.
- The silence of the Church can best be defined by the philosophy of dualism.
- Dualism is the theory that within all reality there exist two absolute and eternal principles that are irreconcilably opposed to each other.
- For example, as far as the Christian’s involvement in politics is concerned, the rule is usually that the unbelievers run the world, and the Christians order the private consciences and the life hereafter of their followers.
Why is the kingdom of secular humanism so powerful today?
Is it perhaps because the church retreated from the battlefield?
- The Church has the power and authority to change the world’s view regarding racism.
- We need to develop the will to follow in the footsteps of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, the multicultural man.
- The Church must assume its prophetic role in society to address, arrest, and crush the destructive spirits of separation, racism, and division.
- The Church must create models of unity in a society that can serve as points of reference to the destitute world, as signposts of hope.
In a survey conducted in the USA, it was discovered that most non-Christians think that the Church has lost its relevancy. 70% think that the Church has no right to exist. Then of those who do attend church, more than 40% think that the Church is irrelevant.
- We must use the power of visualization to see a world that transcends racial disunity.
- There is a life higher than division, separatism, and racism.
- If we can only peer into the PROPHETIC future, we will be able to see communities functioning by a different value system than that which drives humanity today.
- These communities will function by the highest power in the universe, the power of love.
Separation and alienation between people is nothing new. During the first century, people faced the same barriers of race, class, and sex that we have today. In fact, before Christ died, Herod’s temple divided the people into all five areas.
1] The Holy Of Holies, set off by a heavy curtain into which only the high priest could go once a year, divided the people from God
2] The Court of Priests, divided the professional clergy from the laypeople
3] The Court of Israel divided the men from the woman
4] The Court of Woman, divided Jewish woman from the Gentiles woman
5] The Court Of Gentiles, divided Gentiles from the Jews
Josephus, a 1st-century historian, informs us that a cornerstone of the 5th partition read: Any gentile that goes beyond this partition only has himself to blame for his ensuing death.
But, when Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished” the curtain that separated the Holy Of Holies was torn from top to bottom.
- The people were confused and astounded.
- They did not understand the ministry of Christ, one of reconciliation of men to God and one another.
Reconciliation is a twofold process
1] It has already taken place.
We have been reconciled to God through Christ; we are a new creation.
2] And yet it is still in progress.
This reconciliation must continue to work through us, crossing racial, social, and sexual barriers.
You may argue, that the Church is wrestling materialism, secular humanism, new age cults, disintegrating families, perversion of sexual morals, and abortion, why make racial reconciliation a priority in the church.
1] Christ made it a priority
Ephesians 2:14-15 (KJV) For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
1]The apostle Paul was referring to the historical alienation between Jews and Gentiles.
2]Christ’s purpose was clear, creating one new people in His Body.
2] Apostle Paul made it a priority
Colossians 3:11 (KJV) Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
1]In one statement Paul extended the priority of reconciliation beyond Jew and Gentile.
2]He now includes all people groups regardless of race, nationality, ethnicity, class, religious tradition, or status.
3]He assumed that all of these alienated or separated people belonged together in this melting pot called the Church.
3] Reconciliation is the theological foundation of our faith
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (HCSB) From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know ⌊Him in this way⌋. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, ⌊he is⌋ a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 18 Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
1]God reconciled us to Himself through the death of His Son and made us His ambassadors and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.
2]First, reconciling people to God through the cross and then reconciling people to people across racial, class, and gender.
3] To be ambassadors for Christ means to be reconcilers wherever relationships are broken.
4] Satan has exploited the sin of racism throughout the centuries, alienating people from God and each other.
The ministry of reconciliation can never be mere passive acceptance of theological truth but must include active participation.
- Unfortunately, the Church at large is guilty of passivity.
- At best we have been standing quietly on the sidelines, while racism continues to wreak havoc in our societies.
- Most of US, white, black, brown, or yellow have not directly attacked the problems of racism.
- Most of us have NOT made it a priority to heal the divisions between races in a deliberate, intentional building of relationships across racial lines.
Our passivity created a vacuum for men like Louis Farrakhan, the leader of ‘The Nation of Islam’ to tell the black youths of America that Christianity is a “white man’s religion”
The body of Christ holds the key that can unlock the stronghold of racism in our society, we have been mandated to reconcile everyone back to God in Christ Jesus, to bring everything under His Headship.
I want to conclude my ministry by highlighting three verses from Psalm 84 that will help us in this arduous journey of racial reconciliation.
5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,They make it a spring;The rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;Each one appears before God in Zion.
The heading of this Psalm reads as follows: ‘To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm for the sons of Korah’.
If we were to go to the Book of Leviticus chapter 16, and to the Book of Jude in our New Testament, you will find mentioned there the man Korah and his descendants.
They are chiefly known for what is called the rebellion of Korah. This man Korah, and a lot of other men – two of whom are Dathan and Abiram – were jealous of the spiritual authority and priesthood that both Aaron and Moses held. Because of that, they led a rebellion, they wanted to take over, they wanted to be in charge spiritually. The Bible tells us – that God judged Korah, and God judged the rebellion and the rebels of Korah.
However, it warms my heart to know that such a beautiful Psalm, is written for the sons of Korah. Although this occurred under the law of Moses, it wonderful to see the footprints of grace. In Ezekiel 18 it clearly states; ‘if the son sees the sins of his father, if the son turns away from the sins of his father, he shall not bear them; but each man, each individual bears his own sins’
I want to make a declaration, that there is grace for the taker. There is grace, no matter what your father has done, no matter what your ancestors have done, no matter what they have been guilty of, no matter even what you have done, there is grace for you in Christ Jesus the Lord if you will receive it.
1 WHOSE STRENGTH IS IN YOU
- We will not be able to practice reconciliation in our strength, not across gender, class, race, or otherwise, we need God’s empowerment.
- His MULTIFACETED GRACE is sufficient
- He giveth more grace to the humble
- Lean on Him, He is the great reconciler.
2 WHOSE HEART IS SET ON PILGRIMAGE.
- The word set has a similar meaning to one casting a foundation for erecting a building of some sort.
- We must set our hearts to go on this pilgrimage of racial reconciliation.
- If we do not set our hearts we will pull back in the heat of the moment.
- All of the issues of life flow from the heart.
3 PASSING THROUGH THE VALLEY OF BACA
- The valley of Baca was situated en-route to Israel’s Cities of refuge and Jerusalem
- Baca is the place of pain and weeping, the place where we have to deal with the hard things in life.
- Beyond Baca is the City of peace, provision, and prosperity.
4 MAKE IT A SPRING
- The word make is similar to its usage in the creation account.
- God created and He made, He made from that which He created.
- God created the infrastructure for racial reconciliation in Christ, we don’t have to create it, we must make it.
- When you make your Baca a spring, many will be refreshed by it
5 THEY GO FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH
- From His fulness we have received, grace upon grace
- As we walk with the Lord, we will continuously receive grace to fulfill His commandments.
- Reconciliation is a grace that we experienced when the Lord saved us, and now He has commissioned us to walk in it as a ministry.
- As we walk this difficult path with the utmost sincerity, we will continue to find strength in the Lord
- His grace is sufficient to carry us through this valley.
6 APPEARS BEFORE GOD IN ZION
- Zion is descriptive of the mature church, those who overcome in life.
- The scripture teaches that only the pure in heart will see God.
- Having gone through the valley of Baca, the place of pain and purification, our hearts have been cleansed from all sorts of prejudice, which will allow us to see the Lord high and lifted up.
Isaiah, the Messianic prophet, prophesied about Christ and his generation when he declared in Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the meek, the poor and afflicted; He has send me to bind up and heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison and of the eyes to those who are bound.
If you are in Christ: Then the Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
- You can administer the grace of forgiveness
- You can release your offenders
- You can set the captives free
- You can build racial bridges.
- You can love the outcast, the unlovable, the detestable, the worst in society.
- You can love your white, black, brown, and Asian brother
BECAUSE CHRIST THE MULTICULTURAL MAN DWELLS IN YOUR SPIRIT.
Let the Lord Jesus Christ baptize you afresh in His love for the human race.
If you found this article helpful you may request a PDF copy of my book on building successful multicultural relationships.