Why White Evangelicals Should Care About Racial Reconciliation

These past few years have been a journey for myself as well as many White Evangelicals. In order for that comment to make sense I guess I have to first confess that I am a recovering racist. Not the KKK type or the Confederate Flag waving type or even one that used language like the “N” word. I was more of a subtle racist. The type that you should think of when you hear the term “microaggression.” The scary thing is, if you had asked me seven years ago if I was a racist I would have said “no” because I didn’t look like that overt style. However, as I was reading the Bible more and going through a men’s Bible study I realized that I had been looking at the world through my political lens and letting that be my first filter for how I thought about current events and history instead of my Biblical lens.  As I began to unravel that mix-up I began to realize that many of my views that I thought were normal were subtly racist.

That realization started me on a journey to really explore what the Bible has to say about how Bible-believing-Christians should interact with one another, especially when different ethnicities and races are involved.  I started realizing that God’s big design for all of humanity is that His Kingdom will someday be “a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7.9).  I realized that if I was uncomfortable around people who did not look like me, then heaven would be really uncomfortable! 

That introduction takes us to the conversation at hand:  why white evangelicals should care about racial reconciliation.  Back in May 2020 I had the opportunity to preach at a friend’s church the Sunday after George Floyd was killed.  The text included a story from Genesis 14 where a guy named Lot was captured by some warring kings and taken captive.  Lot had his choice of where to settle down and he had chosen to live in an area that was a little too close to the city of Sodom, which is described as a place where evil men lived.  The story in Genesis 14 includes a war where four kings and their armies came and waged war against five kings and their armies, including the King of Sodom.  Eventually the five kings were defeated and the four kings began to carry off all of the goods from Sodom and Gomorrah including Lot and his family.

Lot was the nephew of Abram (the guy who eventually becomes Abraham).  A survivor of the battle comes and tells Abram that his nephew was taken captive by these four kings and their armies.  Upon hearing this, Abram assembles his 318 trained men and pursues after Lot’s captors.  When they caught up with them, Abram and his 318 men attacked and defeated the four armies and Abram was able to rescue the women, the other captives and Lot.

In getting ready to preach through that story in light of the events that had transpired the week leading up to it, I was brought to an important question: what do you do when there is a crisis that does not directly affect you, but is affecting other people?  Abram could have easily said, “That is terrible for Lot, but he made his choices.”  Or he could have said, “Maybe he shouldn’t have resisted those kings.”  Or “Lot did something to bring that upon himself.”  But that is not how Abram reacts.  Abram’s heart breaks for someone who is in the middle of a crisis and Abram does not stay silent.  Abram chooses to make Lot’s crisis his own crisis.  Abram leaves the safety and security of where he is and he plunges into a seemingly impossible situation with just 318 men against four armies.  

As White Evangelicals, we need to be a lot more like Abram.  I’ll make it personal: as a White Evangelical, I need to be a lot more like Abram.  My heart needs to break every time I see the name of another black man killed by police.  Not because I’m trying to take sides on a touchy subject, but because I have friends who are black men that are weeping and mourning over the death of George Floyd and Daunte Wright and so many others.  They weep because they wonder if their name will be the next one.  They weep because they imagine  it was their brother, or father, or son.  They often weep alone because they don’t feel heard.

So, as White Evangelicals it is time for us to fulfill the call of the Apostle Paul:  “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Romans 12.15).  It is time that we stop throwing accusations around.  It is time that we stop pointing fingers and politicizing every killing of a black man.  It is time that we fall on our knees and we weep with our minority brothers and sisters in the faith who are mourning over the loss of another life.  It is time that our heart breaks with the hearts of so many others.  Most importantly, it is time that our heart breaks because God’s heart is breaking for these same stories.

If this article makes you feel uncomfortable, then I ask you to wrestle with that uncomfortable feeling.  I ask you to spend some time exploring where that discomfort comes from.  Spend time trying to determine if you are like me, a guy who was wrestling with the fact that I had been a subtle racist and didn’t realize it.  I ask you to determine what is that first baby step towards exploring how you can enter the conversation.

So, I’m looking for my 318 men and women who will join me in running into this seemingly impossible battle.  I’m looking for 318 people to have a conversation that does not have an easy answer.  I have set a daily alarm on my phone for 3:18 to pray for racial reconciliation and to pray that God will move in a mighty way in this community in bringing about His peace here in Marshalltown.  My hope is that there will be a multitude of people from different races and backgrounds joining in this prayer.  Will you be one of the 318?  Can I count on you to pray with me, wherever you may be, at 3:18?  

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