Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here - Reconcile

So why should we pursue reconciliation (or for some ethnic harmony and true peace)? There are a number of reasons, but the more I reflect on it the more it appears that our society may be content to maintain status quo. By status quo I mean that we’re content to exist in society in which we remain largely separate as long as we can achieve a measure of equality within our separation. Now that may sound harsh and unreasoning but I believe that it’s more true than false.

For instance some of the reaction to Senator Obama’s speech on race relations focused on the need for black people to take responsibility and ownership of the issues in our communities. Juan Williams' commentary fits into this category. There Williams laments that Senator Obama didn’t use the speech as a call for African-Americans to work on transforming ourselves so that we can transform the world. Now I agree that black folks must take charge and ownership of our communities and culture in order to free ourselves from the pathologies that continue to afflict us. But in my view the rebuilding of our communities and culture though related to the pursuit of ethnic harmony can be achieved apart from experiencing genuine ethnic peace.

And I wonder is that what our society really wants? Would we be satisfied to live in a country in which all ethnicities experienced a fairly equal measure of stability, success and opportunity even if we remained pretty much separated? For instance, imagine if black folks were successful in righting the wrongs within our own communities to the point where we could enjoy neighborhoods with good schools, good and growing job opportunities and satisfying cultural outlets. Would it be alright if those neighborhoods were largely homogenous and those African-Americans living there had little if any meaningful social contact with people from other ethnicities? And should such a situation ever arise would our society believe that for the most part we’ve solved the ‘race problem’?

However if that is not acceptable then what should be done about it? And what part if any should the church play and should we consider this an essential implication of the gospel of Jesus Christ? If we do then how will it be reflected in our churches, theology, seminaries, ministries, publications, conferences, etc.?

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor Lance


FellowElder said...

The question, "What do we want?" is critical. Thank you for raising it. I saw Larry Elder and Debra Dickerson on the oft confusing, rarely helpful O'Reilly show last night. Bill was essentially making the argument that unless African Americans stop "race bating" then white people are gonna take their marbles and go home. It was the saddest "you hurt my feelings andI don't want to play anymore" routine I think I've ever seen a grown man play.

Thank you for raising the central question. Praying folks stick around to talk it through.

Grace and peace

FellowElder said...

By the way, in most churches, the Sunday morning vote seems to suggest, "yes, we'd be quite happy if everyone was doing okay in their own little village." Sad.

rodney in pa said...

I hear a lot of people of Christians say they want reconciliation, but many of them aren't willing to do any of the work, that is need to bring forth any racial understanding or reconciliation "Talk is cheap" and lot of American Christianity is talk.

As far as what our society really wants, I'm not sure that it is that important, but it is important to God the father, so it should be important to all Christians. I believe this is one of the essential implication of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Lance said...

yo my brothers, thanks for your words. Lord willing folks will stick around and talk it through. you're right fellow elder it doth appear that the bible believing community has already spoken on this issue loud and clear. and I wonder if we realize that in the eyes of many in the 'culture' our answer may already disqualify us from even addressing the issue.
btw you're in my prayers for T4G next week.

brother Rodney, excellent point re: doing the work instead of just talking the talk. the challenge however is deciding if there's work to be done. if black believers and white believers can't even agree on the nature of the problem it may be nearly impossible to chart a course toward an authentic solution.

you're right in one sense that what society wants isn't of prime importance. however the temperature of our society on this issue could be important in terms of our witness to it.

thanks again for joining the discussion brothers.


Rodney in PA said...

I hear ya pastor,
I think that if the church would have open and honest conversation about race and how the gospel can (and should) shape our vision of each other despite the misunderstanding, injustice and hurts of the past (and presence). We could move forward in displaying to the world one body, one faith...

Paul said to peter in Gal 2, concerning his culture hypocrisy, that Peter's separation from gentiles to be with the Jews was not "in line with the truth Gospel" We need to start there and let every conversation and evaluation talk place with the Gospel of grace in view at all times. This would be a good starting point.

As far as agreeing on the nature of the problem, similar to what i mention above, we need to start with the sin nature and how it has effected the way cultures have viewed and interacted (or haven't interacted) with each other in the past and presence and how we can change for the future for the better. We need to allow each other the freedom to be able to express our feelings, concern or whatever without being labeled a racist or oversensitive or whatever. How can we be a effective witness to the world for God's glory if we do not attempt to even get this right, it may be very hard to do but God's Glory is worth it.
- Rod

Lionel Woods said...

Hey Pastor Lance,

My question is what does Jesus want from us? I love Dr. King, Malcom, Freddrick Douglas and all of my forefathers in the flesh that contributed greatly to this thing call civil rights. But the question is as you asked was the end goal of the Civil rights movement social and financial equality or was there any intentions on reconciliation.

As I think of the first question. If Jesus gave a "I got a dream speech" (which I may have to blog on) what would the content of that speech look like? I think He did do this in John 17 but it was more of prayer than a public announcement. His dream was for us to be one as He and the Father were one. Anyone who thinks otherwise has not read the NT quite so well.

I see in Ephesians where Paul is telling the Church at Ephesus "the dividing wall has been torn down" I see Paul appealing to the ethnicity issues in a response to the Judaizers in Galatians. Paul talks about one True Israel and that is made up of a new ethnicity called the Elect. Christ came to bring poor, rich, white, black, doctor, professional athlete, man, woman, and child in submission to one head Himself and the representation of that is displayed by "LOVE"!

I think this phony, hocus pocus thing we have going on today is hyprocrisy at best and down right rebellious at worse. We can't fool God Pastor Lance and regardless of the cost as a great brother in the flesh once said this is to be accomplished by "Any Means Necessary".

So let me ask you Pastor Lance; what shall we do? What will it cost and what is a stake. We praise men for being the first black athlete or corporate professional to break the color barriers, should we as Christians be even more zealous?

Jim Pemberton said...

It's a good point that American society, including much of the Church, largely just wants to maintain the status quo. However, we as Christians are in the business of reconciliation. If we can't do it, we can't expect society to do it. And try as might to keep the status quo, it always changes. It may change for the better or for the worse. For example, I did a lot of work with my wife before our wedding to get her to say, "I do." After the dress and tux were hung up, I couldn't simply dust off my hands and say, "Well, we're in good shape. All I have to do to sit back and let things stay the same." Nope. Now it's time for the real work of not only maintaining, but continuing to grow my marriage. Likewise, we are justified once in Christ, but sanctified daily. We may expect a moment when true reconciliation happens in society, but we can't say we have achieved it once and quit trying.