(Photo by Lindsay O’Neil)
By Kyle Heskett
“Every aspect of the way God views and saves sinners is designed to undermine racism and lead to a reconciled and redeemed humanity from every people group in the world.”
– John Piper
The topic of racial reconciliation is a recent passion of mine. When I was younger, I thought racism only existed in rare circumstances, in the extremists. As I grew up, I realized that discrimination is everywhere. It is in the little comments or jokes we make and in the assumptions we have towards certain groups of people. Most of the time we don’t even realize we do this. I’m not saying we should all be classified as racist, but I do think we all may have traces of discrimination in us.
I believe God cares deeply about racial reconciliation. In Revelation 7:9 John said this about heaven: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” Acts 10:34-35 states, “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.’” These verses, and plenty others in scripture, point out that God celebrates people of all nations and we are to as well.
I went to a missions conference a couple years ago and heard a pastor named JT Thomas speak on this topic. I was severely impacted by something he said. He expressed the idea that when we don’t like a certain ethnicity, race, or the way someone looks or celebrates their heritage; we are saying that we don’t like the way God is manifesting Himself through them. God is a creative God. He chooses to be creative in the way His people express themselves, worship Him, and live life. As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve realized that reconciliation is a huge part of who God is. As believers, we should further His kingdom by having a heart for this issue and take action to see reconciliation unfold.
What exactly is racial reconciliation? According to Brenda Salter McNeil in her book Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities Into Unity, Wholeness and Justice, it is “an ongoing spiritual process involving forgiveness, repentance and justice that restores broken relationships and systems to reflect God’s original intention for all creation to flourish.” God is all about restoring what is broken. While things will not be completely restored until Jesus comes again, we need to reflect kingdom values and fight for what is right in our lives on earth. That is how others will see who God is. Reconciliation should be in our minds, hearts, and actions. It is essential to our Christian walk as we strive to show others a picture of what heaven will be like. God is not just about restoring our brokenness in heaven alone after we pass—He is for restoring our brokenness on earth, too. Furthermore, think of all that we can accomplish if we work together instead of isolating ourselves from those who are different then us. We can learn and grow so much from these relationships and make real change. We see different aspects of God’s character when we see Him expressed through different people.
I can in no way cover the depths of this topic in this article. If you want to understand more about racial reconciliation and how to take part in it, I would recommend McNeil’s book. Other Bible verses that speak on the topic are Numbers 15:15, Isaiah 11:6-9, Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 10:15-16, and Revelation 5:9. Even though I only scratched the surface of this topic, I hope you feel inspired to dive deeper with the Lord and ask Him how you can be part of this mission.