More than a Hashtag#
Our country is involved in a deepening crisis of division, often with people talking past each other or, even worse, at each other. Yet the church is called to be the new community where there is neither “Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, NIV). What does this vision mean for the church today and our mission and message to the world? If Jesus took on race relations, racial divides, racial reconciliation, racial everything, what would that look like?
Theology of Race
It’s important to understand the theology of race:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27, NIV)
- We were made: we were created. We are wonderfully made. God put something of Himself in us; we have a soul and that allows us to be in a relationship to God. He created us to be in community with each other and with Him. We all have value, no matter color, wealth, skills or intellect. There is a sacredness to every human being. God created diversity. God created men and women. God gave us unique characteristics. Every human being is one of a kind. We have different skin colors, but Jesus created and loves every person regardless of their skin color. When the Bible talks about race, it is not talking about the color of their skin; it is about culture and geography. There is only one race. “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” (Acts 17:26, NIV) “God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation.” (Acts 10:34-35, NIV) “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) God dispersed people after the Tower of Babel: “In that way, the LORD scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the LORD confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.” (Genesis 11:8-9, NLT) New Community: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, NIV) “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27, NIV) God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation.” (Acts 10:34-35, NIV) He writes, “I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a mighty shout, ‘Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10, NLT) Shalom is a powerful Jewish word that means peace and health. But it means more than that.“Shalom” can be used generally to describe the well-being of persons or communities, and “peace” is a particular and common development of that sense. Shalom means a better world that is based on a God-centered world. No one would be afraid, or be judged by the color of their skin, everyone would be accepted and everyone would treat each other as we would want to be treated.
- As you reflect on Sunday’s message, what one principle or insight stands out as being particularly helpful, insightful, or difficult to grasp?
- What do you think makes you unique? Why do you think God made each person unique?
- Many people think of change that the gospel brings as primarily personal change. How does the gospel affect social change?
- It is relatively easy to say that we believe in the theology of race. If you had to prove it with more than words, what would you claim as evidence in your life that goes beyond intellectual belief?
- Do you find it difficult and/or scary to enter into the conversation about race? If so why or why not? What kind of conversations do you think that Christians need to have that will lead to racial reconciliation and encouragement?
- How does being “in Christ” change the discussion of race? How might thinking of others as made in the image of God transform those thoughts?
- How do you think asking questions about the experiences of others can bridge gaps and help build understanding and ultimately build up the Body of Christ?
- Where do we go from here? How do you begin to implement the needed changes to heal the racial divide in our country?
- What’s the next step God wants you to take? When will you take it? Write down your next step to becoming the person God wants you to be.
Take one thing home with you:
I Have A Dream
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification”, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on August 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C.