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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Racism And The Church

File:Protesters gather for Black Lives Matter march (20946900494).jpg
Fibonacci Blue Creative Commons Black Lives Matter

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I toyed for a while with the idea of writing on this subject, not sure how it would be received. You just have to turn on the news these days to realize this is a very hot topic. So hot, in fact, that the church doesn't seem to want to touch it. In recent times, the number of unarmed black men killed by white policemen has grown to alarming proportions, and the response from the pulpit and from Christian media has been a deafening silence.

 But this morning, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear a young, white, visiting preacher to my church speak on the subject. The young preacher spoke about the racism and injustice being played out on our streets gave rise to the "Black Lives Matter" movement. What he said was not anything we don't know already, but it was nice to hear a member of the clergy say it.

So my question is, what is the role of the church in society? Now, don't get me wrong. The church is very vocal about things that need to be spoken about - homosexuality, abortion and politics- to name a few. The church is always in the forefront when there is a natural disaster, distributing food, water and clothing to those in need, even providing shelter in some cases. This is why the church's silence on this national man-made disaster is so disturbing.

This article in the Florida Baptist Weekly not too long ago is encouraging. The opening sentence of the article, "Panel:Racism Cure Resides With Church" by Diana Chandler reads, "Racial reconciliation rests at the doorsteps of the church and can only be achieved through the Gospel in action." This was at the 2016 SBC annual meeting of Baptist pastors in St. Louis. The panelists touched on a lot of core issues, such as the link between racism and sin and the need for the church to "pass the Salt and turn on the "light." All good words, but they are preaching to the choir.

What we need is more visibility from our church leaders - black AND white - in dealing with this matter. Instead of meeting behind closed doors, how about using your vast platform to bring the matter out in the open? How about having dialogue with police and government officials?

Jesus did not shy away from tough issues. John 4: 4 says, "... He had to go through Samaria." Jesus could have gone anywhere else to get water, but He went there to bridge the racial divide that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans, and to spread the Gospel. After Jesus had spoken to a Samaritan woman at the well, she went and told the people what He'd told her. Many of them came to see Him and believed on Him. (v 29; 39)

Jesus also told the story of a man who had been robbed, beaten and left for dead on the roadside. A priest and Levi - church leaders - passed him by. But a good Samaritan went out of his way to take the man to an inn and pay to have him looked after. Luke 10: 30 - 35

Can the church in today's society reach out across the racial divide and demonstrate that "Black Lives Matter" and "All Lives Matter?" We may have to watch and see.


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