I’m not African-American, so I don’t want to pretend to understand what it’s like to be part of a people who are treated differently because of their appearance. I don’t understand. It shocks me! I naively think we live in a post-racial world because of all the progress our society has made. However, prejudice is still more common than any of us want to admit. Recently a friend shared multiple examples of how he has been mistreated because his skin has more color than mine. As a pastor to a mostly white congregation, I’m responsible for shepherding a people who may not have directly oppressed anyone, but are automatic members of a culture who did (and often still does). What should the posture of Christians be towards the historic oppression and ongoing mistreatment of Black Americans? Let’s look at the example of Daniel:
Daniel 9:3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame…
Most Bible heroes have all kinds of sin recorded in their stories. This makes Daniel stand out as one of those rare characters who always seemed to do what was right. However, he doesn’t pray with self-righteous pride. He doesn’t tell God “the exile wasn’t my fault, it was my ancestors!” Like Jesus, he takes responsibility for the sins of others. He confesses the sin and shame of his people. He confesses sins that were committed by previous generations. Like Jesus, he pleaded for forgiveness that his people would be healed and restored. I would also add that like US, he knew he was still guilty of heart sins that he may have never outwardly expressed. Romans 3:23 says that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I can pridefully say I never acted in racial prejudice, or I can stand before God confessing I’m a sinner who does not love people as beautifully and bravely as God wants me to. Humility is the only way forward.
In that light, I want to take Black History Month as a time to publicly confess the sins of my ancestors (and living members of white culture in the U.S.) against African Americans and other minority cultures in America. The oppression and racism of our culture is wrong, and is a rejection of God’s perfect righteousness. I also want to confess that I may have clean hands but I don’t have a pure heart. I still need Jesus to transform ME. God help my culture, and God help me!
I thank God for his grace and forgiveness through Christ. Jesus loved people perfectly and died sacrificially. By trusting in his work, we can be united as one people. Our unity comes by the fact that we are all sinners saved by grace. I confess that we have sinned, AND I pray that we would be restored and united because this helps men everywhere to see how good God is.
Take some time this month to pray that our community would be united by Christ’s work. The Army does a fairly good job of uniting races in mission at Fort Hood, but the Gospel should unite us in supernatural ways that grab our culture’s attention.
Galatians 3:26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Pray for unity in the Gospel, and take some time to learn more about Black History Month. Here is another post I found helpful.
For more information on Grace Bible Church, visit begrace.org.