For the past week, I have been reflecting on the evilness of racism.  I have been reading a lot of blogs and reflecting on my time at the 2017 Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix.  I have a different story than most, as my family is a multi-ethnic family.  If you look at this picture of us without any knowledge of my family, you would probably make wrong guesses as to who the siblings are, and who married in.  For the record, there are 8 of us kids: 4 guys and 4 girls.

One of the ministries my parents heavily invested in was foster care.  And out of the who-knows-exactly-how-many kids we had in our house over almost 20 years, mom and dad adopted 5.  I know what your first thought is: Man, what a good looking family!  And I don’t disagree with you.  Whenever we are all together and go out to eat, or go anywhere for that matter, it’s sort of like the circus has come to town.  We have kids with high chairs and a couple of wheelchairs and a wide range of ages.  People watch.  People stare.  I’m sure some people are confused.  And that’s ok.

We’re also ethnically diverse.  And that’s awesome.  It’s awesome because it reflects what heaven looks like.

The reason that I have been reflecting on racism is that at the Southern Baptist Convention, we passed a resolution condemning alt-right white supremacy racism.  There are a couple of excellently worded blogs here, here, and here.  Please check them out.  You can also read Resolution #10: On The Anti-Gospel of Alt-Right White Supremacy.  This was another important declaration by my convention on where we stand.  The Southern Baptist Convention today is more ethnically diverse than it has ever been, which is a very good thing.  But we still have much work to do.  Dr. James Merritt said, “Every time the SBC can put another nail in the coffin of racism or the perception of it all Southern Baptists should say ‘Give me a hammer!'” I could not agree more!

Our world is broken and hurting.  Many of our churches are broken and hurting.  Many of our church members are broken and hurting.  Hurt people will hurt people.  The only cure is Jesus.  The only message is the gospel.  The only action is to reflect to others the love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace that Jesus so wonderfully and completely gave to us.  We are to “Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:12-18 (CSB)

Racism has no place in the church because it has no place in heaven.  Revelation 7:9 gives a beautiful picture of what heaven will look like:

After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. Revelation 7:9 (CSB)

Every nation.  Every tribe.  Every people.  Every language.  That’s heaven.  That’s the Kingdom of God.  That’s God’s plan.  Jesus did not die to save one ethnicity or one language group or one tribe.  He died to save all.

So what should we do?  How do we help others who may have racist tendencies?  First, read and share the resolution that the Southern Baptist Convention passed.  Second, don’t shy away from having the hard conversations.  Third, speak with love to and about others, regardless of their ethnicity.  Fourth, have open and honest dialogue with those of other ethnicities around you and ask how you can be a part of the solution, not the problem.  Racism won’t end or go away if we pretend it doesn’t exist.  We must be proactive and intentional in leading others towards reconciliation.

Racism may not be dead in our broken and fallen world.  But it should be dead in our churches.  If it isn’t then our church is not an accurate picture of heaven.

 

Brad Smith is the Lead Pastor at Spring Valley Baptist Church in Springville, AL.  Brad has been in ministry for 19 years.  You can follow Brad on Twitter here.