America is suffering from another self-inflicted tragedy. Communities and neighborhoods cry out in the midst of the same conflict that has become all too common. In the last few days we have seen a man suffocated on camera, peaceful demonstrations, looting, rioting, lawlessness, cities burning, police officers killed, the National Guard deployed, and a whole bunch of people running to microphones to give their opinions about it all. What I haven’t heard is someone offering God’s Word on the matter. I have seen some pastors inject themselves into the politics of the day, while failing to mention that Jesus could heal the divide. Image a pastor getting a national audience to listen for just a moment, and they don’t mention Jesus? They talk about voter rights or past injustices or police brutality but not the answer to all of those concerns and every other? I weep for my brethren who have forgotten that politics is low next to their God. The church should be speaking with one healing voice- the voice of our Father and Creator and King and Lord Jesus, but the problem is simply that you cannot speak to what you do not know.
Several people who have claimed to represent the “Black Church” have demanded change to systems and recompense for past wrongs. One pastor claiming to represent the “White Church” said all the blame should be borne by him and his fellow “White Christians.” To be fair, they are preaching a message of repentance. To them both and any other “Self-Hyphenated Christian” I say NO. No. No. Stop dividing the kingdom. Stop finding a camera to glamorize those divisions. Stop going to the microphone claiming to represent the church and the Kingdom of God with political and quasi-religious-sounding statements that have no basis in what God has decreed. Read your Bible and learn what God has to say on a matter before you try to tell the world. Fast. Pray. Ask, search, and knock humbly in the presence of the King of Heaven before you speak. Then and only then will you be able to represent God. Then and only then will you do any good.
To anyone who says I am a “Black Christian” or “White Christian” or “Latino Christian” I would ask them which word comes first in their description. The order represents importance and value. If your race comes first out of your mouth, then your race comes first. It is either a sign of immaturity in the faith or rebellion against God’s decrees to describe yourself in such a way.
You may be reading my words and having a nearly visceral reaction because your identity and self-value is tied to membership in a group. I am not writing this to make you mad but simply to point out: the Kingdom you are called to is greater and higher than any earthly assembly. If you belong to God, the Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (II Corinthians 5:17, ESV). The old has passed away. Old what? The old man or woman you used to be, and all of your old allegiances with it.
I can prove to you that God does not want you to hold onto ANY former distinctions or divisions from the enemy. God has called you higher than your demography.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:9-10, ESV).
This verse from Peter is unambiguous. When we accept the Lordship of Jesus into our lives, our race, standing, and allegiance changes to the Kingdom of Heaven. There is nobody hyphenated in the Kingdom because we are made new. In verse 10, just in case verse 9 wasn’t enough, clearly says “once you were not a people.” In other words, the people coming to the Kingdom of God will come from different races, different socioeconomic levels, different religious traditions, different core beliefs, and different nations and not be similar to each other. BUT “now you are God’s people.” Your old allegiances are gone, wiped away; past ties are broken. In fact, those people who don’t look like you or grew up differently are now your family. “He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ . . .” (Eph. 1:5, ESV). Our only allegiance is to God and our brothers and sisters in the Kingdom. It is a hard doctrine in our culture but necessary.
God was purposeful in having Peter to write this verse proclaiming His will to His people for all time. Why is Peter significant to race and the Kingdom? You see we know from the story of Peter’s vision in Acts 10:9-16 and subsequent evangelism at Cornelius’ house that Peter was a racist. Paul also mentioned Peter’s racism against Gentiles in Galatians 2:11-13. Peter considered all people non-Jewish people unworthy to sit at his table, and he did not want to preach to them to know Jesus as Lord (that is a level of racism we seldom see today). In fact, if you read closely when God shows him the vision, Peter argues back, and the Lord sends him the vision three times! Can you imagine this scene? Peter, the apostle recorded in the book of John who denied Jesus three times was restored by Jesus when he asked him three times if Peter loved him. The scene of Peter’s denial and restoration is both heartbreaking then beautiful. What do you think Jesus was saying about the importance of a Kingdom of people without barriers and distinctions when the Lord showed Peter the vision three times- just like his great sin and repentance? Peter not only followed the command to evangelize the once hated Roman Gentiles, but he would also go on to pen the verse above in understanding that in the Kingdom, fellow believers are neither Jewish nor Roman nor Gentiles. The Lord healed Peter’s racist beliefs and changed his heart to that of a Kingdom man.
Imagine how America would be different and better if we stood up to race pimps in the church! If every person who gloried in division and strife suddenly was not celebrated but rebuked like Peter, then restored in love? Imagine if people started to say “I am not a black pastor, I am a Kingdom preacher” or “I am not a white church leader, my race is the Kingdom” or “I am not for a community, I am for the Kingdom.” Imagine if the media couldn’t find a person in the church to speak for any group but the church? If we lived that message out every day in love for our brothers and sisters in Christ all the alarm bells in Hell would be going off warning the enemy that the verse in Revelation was coming to pass: “Fallen! fallen is Babylon the great . . .” (Revelation 14:8, ESV).
Featured Image by Max Bender