“4 There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:4-6)
Racial tensions continue to escalate surrounding the latest incident of a Caucasian policeman shooting and (in this case) killing an unarmed African-American. This incident hits close to home for me as it happened just a few miles south of where I live. Obviously, the taking of life, no matter the circumstances, is a very difficult thing to experience for any Christian. I am surely praying for the Scott family as well as the family of the officer who shot and killed Mr. Scott. This is indeed a tragedy that has and will cause unimaginable hurt to everyone involved. It’s time that an American community deals with a tragedy like this in a fair, just and sensible manner. I am prayerfully confident that this great state of South Carolina and lowcountry community will do so.
In light of this latest tragedy, I am positive that I will continue to hear calls for racial reconciliation throughout the Christian community. For some time now, my own denomination has been calling for “talks” and “action” in regards to reconciling racial relations. I understand where they are coming from. I truly do. However, I’d like to spend a few minutes offering a caveat…
Calls for reconciliation and unity continue to echo throughout the Christian subculture. Similarly, I continue to hear admonitions for unification throughout all Christian denominations. But…it’s all a little puzzling to me. Why? Because God’s Word makes it crystal clear that all believers everywhere are already unified and reconciled through and in the blood of Christ. A call for unity is, at best, a call for the church to attempt something that Christ has already accomplished. At worst, it is a belief that the church still has unification work to do. This takes all of the power out of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. In fairness, we are called to “maintain” the unity we have in Christ (Eph. 4:3). But we certainly cannot create it…
Every believer in Christ (defined as those who believe that Jesus rose from the dead and purchased salvation for them on the cross) are unified with every other believer in Him through His death and resurrection. I have and am capable of enjoying union with every believer, male and female, black and white, whatever cultural distinction you wish to make, automatically through the blood of Jesus. Therefore, there needs to be no reconciliation between myself and any other believer because of race or gender.. Now, if I were to sin against a brother or sister in Christ (no matter their race or gender), then yes, reconciliation is mandated by Jesus. Just as He forgave me and reconciled me to God, so I am to forgive others and reconcile our relationship. But true corporate reconciliation can only happen through groups of Jesus-believing Christians. A community can’t be truly reconciled to another community unless Jesus is at the center of it all. And if He is at the center of it all, they are one already!
All Christians are a part of the body of Christ. They have all been called to the same hope in the same Lord. They all have the same faith (Jesus’ death and resurrection), all share the same baptism, and are all adopted brothers and sisters of the same Father. In this way God’s family extends across every ethnic, racial, socio-economic and whatever anthropological label you want to use.
Those not in Christ do not possess this type of unity. They are still children of wrath. They are still condemned, as Jesus said they were. Therefore, He came not to condemn (since they already are) but to save and rescue. Therefore the primary reconciliation that believers need to be concerned with is not with other races or cultures and tribes (unless there is blatant sin involved between two parties) but those who do not know Jesus nor bear the fruit that they know him. There are many people who profess the name of Christ who are just not saved. Their fruit bears this to be true. Christ’s church is called to reconcile these people to the Father. That is our primary mission.
So as we continue to find ourselves involved in the tragedies of this world, let’s continue to walk in love. Let’s continue to call out sin. Let’s continue to pray for peace and justice. But let’s also make it a point, church, to make Gospel reconciliation our mission. Let’s continue to push ahead and do our cross-bought calling in bringing true unity and true reconciliation between God and man so that every gender, race, and ethnicity can experience true unity among each other as is only found in Christ.