D R .
J . L .
W I L L I A M S
Sin Problem A
A biblical view of race and racism
Copyright ÂŠ 2020 by Feed the Hunger. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in mechanical or electronic form without the express permission of the copyright holder. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International VersionÂŽ Printed in the USA
Foreword The following is a selection of teachings on race and racism shared by Dr. J.L. Williams over the years. As you will read, Dr. Williams explores the past, the present, and the Bible to provide insight as to how to better understand race and racism in our culture and world. To be clear and obvious, this is written from the perspective of a white male, but one who dedicated his life to racial reconciliation and cross-cultural ministry. May it be helpful in some small way to the ongoing dialogue so desperately needed to bring continued change in our country.
Table of Contents 1968 Protest Music National Heart Disease Sin not Skin Five Areas of Sin The Universality of Racism Biblical Principles about Race: Creation Corruption Christ Saul the Bigot Learning from Paul Two Messages from Paul People of Color in the Bible: Old Testament New Testament and Beyond Tying It All Together Agents of Reconciliation
7 9 13 15 17 19 23 27 29 31 35 37 41 45 49 51
1968 The old expression by a French writer seems to still be true. He lamented: “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” That’s why many of us feel we are reliving the years of the Civil Rights Era. Many in our younger generation are not aware that it was the year 1968 that President Johnson signed the historic Civil Rights Act into law, also known as the Fair Housing Act. That watershed law prohibited any form of discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of housing based on race, religion, or national origin. This act is considered by many as the final great legislative achievement of the Civil Rights Era. It was also in 1968, on April 4th, that James Earl Ray assassinated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. His death in many ways led to a fragmentation and dissolution of the Civ-
il Rights Movement. He was a unique leader with a unique message at a unique time in American history. Patt and I also look back to 1968 as the official founding of our ministry, The New Directions. As an interdenominational interracial contemporary ministry group, we were using music to “take it to the streets” as a positive demonstration of racial reconciliation in Christ. For the next dozen or more years, we made loving invasions into every bastion of segregation, prejudice, and racism in the South and North. We called our events an “Action Experience in Christian Love.” For most people, it was seen as a totally new direction in ministry. As God built us into an authentic covenant family through the reconciling love of the Lord Jesus, His love spread to others. In heart after heart, home after home, marriage after marriage, family after family, church after church, and community after community, we saw the “dividing wall of hostility” fall that had been segregating people from God and from each other (Ephesians 2:14).
Protest Music Since those defining years of desegregation, a new generation of Americansâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;both blacks and whitesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;have grown up with little or no personal experience of the Civil Rights Era. For many of them, it is abstract ancient history. But the Gen Xers, Millennials, and those younger are painfully learning what our generation learned: while you can and should pass legislation against discrimination, you cannot legislate a change of heart. It was one thing for America to pass legislation abolishing the Jim Crow laws that had mandated racial segregation in all public facilities. It was another issue to eradicate Jim Crow sentiments from the heart. During the Civil Rights Movement, music was used to fan the flames of social change. The protest music of folk singers and rock musicians became the prophetic voice to many in that genera-
tion that radical change had to take place. As Bob Dylan sang, “The times they are a-changin’.” However, millions found that while the answer was “blowing in the wind,” those winds did not always change people’s hearts. During those earlier days of ministry when I spoke on reconciliation, I would often quote the rather humorous words of a popular folk song by the Kingston Trio: The whole world is festering With unhappy souls The French hate the Germans, The Germans hate the Poles Italians hate Yugoslavs South Africans hate the Dutch And I don’t like Anybody very much The chorus concluded: They’re rioting in Africa There’s strife in Iran What nature doesn’t do to us Will be done by our fellow man
Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s amazing how relevant those words are almost a half century later! It seems that reconciliation, like many other things, seldom lasts more than one generation.
National Heart Disease Human history proves that laws about justice and equality are needed to regulate sinful behavior. Virtually every country has been guilty of some form of legalized apartheid (discrimination/segregation) by one race against another. Often it is the minority against the majority. Whichever group has the most power rules, or “might makes right.” Apartheid is a disease of every human heart. We naturally want to differentiate, discriminate, segregate, and dominate. It takes something supernatural—conversion—to cause people to repent of the apartheid in their hearts. Only a radical spiritual transformation can bring about permanent racial reconciliation. Therefore, until beliefs are changed, behavioral modification will only be superficial and temporary, regardless of what our laws say. Until God’s
laws of love are written on our hearts, no lasting change can take place in our homes or in our streets. Unless the heart is truly changed, nothing else will permanently change. Only God can change the human heart. In light of this, a dangerous moral shift has been taking place in America for decades. We have cut ourselves loose from the strong moorings of God’s Word, leaving behind the absolute truths of the Bible and the Ten Commandments for moral relativism. Without the moral clarity of God’s Word, everyone can determine their own morality based upon their whims, feelings, desires, and passions. Objective truth has been exchanged for subjective experience. As a result, “everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 17:6). Indeed, we have a national heart disease.
Sin not Skin One of the things we personally learned during those early days of the Civil Rights Movement was that all of us are prejudiced to one degree or another. By virtue of original sin, we all inherited prejudice through our common human father, Adam. We have prejudice against other humans because of our innate sin and selfishness. Every baby is born with a selfish, self-seeking nature. A baby always wants its way in everything. That’s why King David reflected: “Surely I was sinful at birth” (Psalm 51:5). To one degree or another, all of us are like Cain, who killed his brother Abel. The biblical record of that first murder is succinct: “Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him” (Genesis 4:8). This description is as current as the recent news reports about police officers killing blacks and people killing police officers. Like Cain, some
kill their brothers in the streets with stones or bullets. Others do so with angry words of hatred. Still others do it quietly in the secret recesses of their hearts as they muse over how they believe themselves to be superior to those of other races. But personal and relational death still occurs in each situation. In addition to having pride and prejudice through birth, we all have residual racism by culture, conditioning, and choice. None of us is totally color-blind. We all have overt or covert prejudice against others racially, sexually, and socially. And we often use economics to reinforce those prejudices and â&#x20AC;&#x153;keep people in their place.â&#x20AC;? We use our economic superiority to segregate ourselves in gated communities with expensive walls of prejudice that buffer us from them. So, our message today is the same as it was back in 1968: racism is not a skin problem, but a sin problem!
Five Areas of Sin As a result of our sinfulness and fallenness, we do not correctly understand who we are spiritually, mentally, emotionally, sexually, and racially. The fall of man through rebellion and sin has radically affected these five areas of our lives! However, the spiritual dimension is the root, while all the others are the fruit. One is the cause, the others are the effects. We all have fears in these five areas, which are interrelated and intricately intertwined. Only the Bible can bring clear and accurate discernment. The primary focus of this study is the last area: racial fears, or understanding who we are racially. Racial tensions, struggles, and warfare have always plagued man. Both biblical and secular history reveal that manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hands are dripping with the blood of his brothers, beginning with Cain just outside the Garden of Eden as previously
mentioned. Today, there continue to be racial tensions and racial fighting all over the world. There is probably not a single country of the world where there has not been or is not now some form of racial, ethnic, caste, clan, or tribal tensions. Look no further than Bosnia’s ethnic cleansing, South Africa’s former apartheid, the caste system in India, tribal genocide in Africa, and racial tensions in America. The big question is: What does God’s Word say about this? What does the Bible say about race? Since the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, and authoritative Word of God, it is the only place where we can go to find a totally accurate and objective understanding of race. Only in the Bible can we find a trustworthy source for our racial origins. The Bible tells us who we are racially through creation, corruption, and Christ. In reality, there is only one race, and that is the human race. Before we dig deeper in the Bible, though, let’s consider how widespread racism really is.
The Universality of Racism Since sin is universal, racism is universal. This irrefutable historical and cultural fact is seen in the innate tribalism of Africa, casteism of India, oligarchy of Europe, and renewed racism in America. It is because of this systemic sinful racism in the heart of every human that history has experienced regular bloody manifestations of racial war, ethnic cleansing, tribal genocide, etc. In previous centuries, the sin of racial superiority was almost globally manifested through colonialism, which often put a cloak of civilization over racism. But sadly, that same racist spirit has continued in many of these same countries just as viciously through many forms of nationalism. These homegrown movements of nationalism often became little more than legalized dictatorships that were worse than what the colonialists had imposed, especially on those of other tribes
or religions. There are some 65 million displaced people in the world today. The vast majority of them have been reduced to refugee status due to various forms of hostile racism, tribalism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, or religious imperialism. And ever since the horrific events of 9/11, America and the free world have been engaged in the War on Terror. From then till now, the world has witnessed the proliferation of Muslim radicals and jihadists who seek to impose their form of religious racism on the non-Muslim world through the forceful imposition of Sharia law. I could go on and on with many more examples because I am personally familiar with them through our partnerships with strategic national leaders. Many face degrees of religious, political, and economic discrimination simply because they are followers of Jesus Christ. In America, the same prejudice and discrimination is taking place. Having rebelled against the Judeo-Christian foundations of our country, there are those who seek to legally impose their
mentality on all of societyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;especially Christians. Sadly, they have convinced and co-opted many black Americans into equating the old Jim Crow laws with any and every form of prejudice against the LGBTQ community. In reality, their political and social agenda is really anti-Christian, anti-life, anti-marriage, anti-family, anti-responsibility, and anti-black. And as we are seeing almost daily in the news, many of them have increasingly become anti-law-and-order through their anarchist mentality and methodology.
Biblical Principles about Race: Creation Let’s now go back through the Bible and better understand how race came to be. It is important to note that the Bible does not explicitly describe the origin of the different races of mankind. One possibility is that when God confused and differentiated languages at Babel, He may have also made some racial/physical differentiations as well (Genesis 11:1–9). Alternatively, the very act of God’s creating human languages may have caused the peoples to disperse and become ethnically and racially distinct. Either way, this divinely created confusion was to divide and disseminate their rebellious unity against Him. According to the Bible, then, all of humanity comes from the very same family tree. In both Adam and Noah, we all have a common ancestry. Isaiah the prophet proclaimed, “You Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8). The prophet Malachi asked, “Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us?” (Malachi 2:10). In the New Testament, Paul preached, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands” (Acts 17:26). Therefore, by creation everyone belongs to the same racial group—the human race. Even though there is just one family tree, there are many different racial limbs and ethnic twigs on that same tree. Even so-called “mixed races” tend to identify with one group or the other, or they synthesize into a totally new branch of the family tree. Examples include Samaritans in the Bible; Coloureds in South Africa; Amerasians in Vietnam; Mulattos in Haiti, etc. So, we need to look to the Bible for our true racial identity—not to secular history or to contemporary culture. Neither anthropologists nor social scientists can dig up and reconstruct our racial
origins. Only the Bible gives us Godâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s revealed Word on the origin of man, the nature of man, and the destiny of man.
Biblical Principles about Race: Corruption The spiritual fall of man from his original position of sinlessness and innocence in the Garden of Eden radically affected every area of his life, including race. As a result of manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rebellion against God, sin has manifested itself in racial confusion and racial tension throughout all of history and all over the world! Rebellion against God always results in rebellion against man. Therefore, racial fears and racial insecurities result in racism, prejudice, bigotry, hatred, and racial fighting all over the world. Once again, the principle is this: racism is a sin problem; not a skin problem. There is also a lot of wrong, unbiblical teaching and tradition about race and racial origins. Some teach the superiority of one race and the inferiority of other races. During the days of slavery in America, many wrongly taught that the â&#x20AC;&#x153;mark of
Cain” was black skin (Genesis 4:15). Some in Haiti believe that God created the white man, while Satan or an angel created the black man and “left him in the oven too long” (an old Haitian proverb). Because these ideas were sometimes taught and believed in the church, many non-white people around the world have come to believe that the Bible is the “Bible of the white man,” and God is the “God of the white man.” Therefore, Christianity is perceived as the “religion of the white man” rather than the true faith for all men! It should go without saying that Jesus wasn’t white. Unfortunately, artistic depictions through the centuries have skewed His true representation. Due to His parents’ Middle Eastern ethnicity, Jesus would have had olive or even brown skin. So the notion that Jesus is white is sheer nonsense!
Biblical Principles about Race: Christ Just like sin and the fall radically and negatively affected every area of our lives, redemption through Christ is to radically and positively affect every area of our lives. Through the fall, man was cast down and broken. Through grace, he was picked up and repaired. The fall made us bad; redemption makes us good, like God originally created us (Genesis 1:31). Through the fall we act like the devil; through redemption we can act like Jesus! Sin confused our racial identity and unity and created insecurity, racism, prejudice, and fear. Racism, then, comes from self-doubt. The person who exemplifies and expresses any form of racial prejudice is only demonstrating their own racial doubt, racial insecurity, and racial fear. Therefore, sin and the fall created feelings of racial inferiority in some, and feelings of racial
superiority in others. Both feelings are equally wrong and equally unbiblical! The Bible tells us that the cross of Jesus Christ crosses out all of our racism, prejudice, hatred, and fear. Tragically, this is an area of sanctification that is yet to take place in the lives of many of God’s people around the world. This is demonstrated by the fact that Christian churches tend to meet, fellowship, and worship around racial, tribal, and ethnic lines. However, all of humanity stands on equal, level ground at the foot of the cross. No racial group is closer to the cross than any other. Therefore, their fellowship at the foot of the cross should demonstrate this unity. The Bible assures us that Christ died for all; His blood was shed for all; His Holy Spirit dwells in all who believe—and His Church is for all. As Jesus quoted Isaiah 56:7, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17).
Saul the Bigot Anywhere you travel in America or the world, you will soon come face-to-face with overt or covert forms of racial prejudice. You will find volatile situations of racial and ethnic tensions just waiting for the right incident to set off conflict and violence. And not surprisingly, much of the world’s racism is religiously motivated. That’s why only spiritual transformation can lead to authentic social transformation. It was that kind of radical spiritual transformation that happened to Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road when he met the risen Christ. Before that encounter, Saul was a caustic, bigoted true-blue Jew through and through. He was motivated by spiritual, racial, and cultural pride (Philippians 3:3–6). Like so many of us, Saul’s world was neatly segregated between us and them. But God temporarily blinded him in order to
make him see. He was blinded by light—the light of God’s revelation through Jesus Christ! In the process, he temporarily lost his sight, but gained new insight that forever changed him spiritually, racially, socially, and culturally. As a result, he later wrote: “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:16–17). So, it was only radical spiritual conversion that caused Saul to no longer see people from a human perspective or from a worldly point of view. And the one thing that killed the apartheid in his life was to see who Jesus really was: God’s Messiah and Savior of the world. Before then, Saul had seen Jesus through the blinded eyes of spiritual pride and prejudice. To him, Jesus was nothing more than a deceived Jewish fanatic with a messianic complex. Jesus’ blasphemy in claiming to be God incarnate got Him just what He deserved—crucifixion as an imposter!
But, when Saul saw and heard the resurrected Christ, he cried out “Lord!” That spiritual insight into the nature of Christ forever changed his perception of every human as a potential “new creation” in Christ Jesus. Forever thereafter, Saul saw people through the eyes of Christ.
Learning from Paul It was only when Saul had a correct view of Christ that he could have a correct view of other people. His conversion reminds us that it is impossible to have a right view of man when we have a wrong view of Christ. Saul’s conversion was so radical that his name was changed from Saul to Paul. Because of his Damascus Road experience, Paul became a champion of equal rights for all people, especially Gentiles, who he had formerly hated. Overnight, he changed from being a Gentile hater to a Gentile lover. Why? Because “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” And for Paul, that “anyone” included everyone! It was that spiritual transformation that turned the Roman world of institutionalized racism for a privileged few upside down. It also brought down the dividing wall of hostility erected by the Jews
through their sense of religious superiority. Salvation was not for a privileged few. It was available to everyone. That’s why Paul lovingly and boldly proclaimed the revolutionary message of transformation that could only take place through the Gospel. While racial and social barriers existed in the world, Paul said that in the Church “there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:11). The message of racial, social, sexual, and economic reconciliation through spiritual reconciliation is still the only solution to our new American divisions. Love is still the only lasting antidote to hate.
Two Messages from Paul Listen to what Paul said about how Christ changes all the racial perspectives and prejudices we develop: For Christâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:14â&#x20AC;&#x201C;18).
In the same way as he exhorted the church at Corinth, Paul reminded the Christians at Ephesus how Jesus had broken down the wall of prejudice dividing His people, and brought an end to the hostility that existed between the Jews and Gentiles of His day: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility . . . His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit (Ephesians 2:13â&#x20AC;&#x201C;18). The Bible, then, must be our source of racial identity, self-authentication, and racial peace,
which must replace racial pride. When we find our true racial identity in the Bible through creation and through Christ, then we are freed from both racial inferiority and racial superiority that came through the corruption of our sin.
People of Color in the Bible: Old Testament It might be helpful at this point to examine and appreciate the ethnic diversity found in the pages of the Bible. Even though we find our racial origins and roots in God’s Word, our contemporary racial categories and distinctions are not necessarily the same ones of the ancient world of the Bible. Today there are labels such as black, white, colored, caste, tribe, etc. However, the Bible does have many dark-skinned, non-white, or people of color in it. Let’s pause and take a look at some examples. Generally, people of color in the Bible are ones of African or Hamitic descent (those descended from Ham, one of the sons of Noah). The name Ham means “hot” or “heat” and may refer to the darker skin color of the peoples living in warmer climates. Here are some of the many descendants mentioned:
• One of the sons of Ishmael (whose mother was Egyptian) is named Kedar, possibly meaning “to be dark” (Genesis 25:13; Psalm 120:5). His family line was associated with northern Arabia. • Phinehas, the son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron, means “the southerner,” a likely reference to the Nubian people south of Egypt (Exodus 6:25; 1 Chronicles 9:20). So within Israel, there were people of black or African descent. • Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, married Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, Priest of On in Egypt (Genesis 41:45). He had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, who were a part of Israel’s inheritance (Genesis 48:5). • Even though 70 people went down to Egypt (Genesis 46:27), the Bible says that 600,000 men came out with Moses (Exodus 12:37). The total number was 1.5 to 2 million people. No doubt there were other Jews who also married Egyptian wives.
• The wife of Moses is described as a Cushite, a person from Cush (modern-day Sudan and Ethiopia) who would have had dark skin (Numbers 12:1). • Solomon’s bride compares her skin color to black goat hair used in tentmaking: “Dark am I, yet lovely . . . dark like the tents of Kedar” (Song of Songs 1:5). • Zephaniah the prophet was the “son of Cushi,” which may indicate that his father was of African descent (Zephaniah 1:1).
People of Color in the Bible: New Testament and Beyond The Old Testament prophecies said that the Messiah would be born through the “line of David” (Isaiah 9:6–7; 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5–6; Matthew 1:1). Of the five women mentioned in the lineage of Christ, at least two are of Hamitic descent: Tamar and Rahab. So even though Jesus’ lineage was primarily Jewish (and non-white to begin with), He had a Hamitic mixture in His ancestry as well. As a result, spiritually, racially, and culturally, blacks and other people of color can identify with Christ. Through His natural birth as “Jesus the Messiah the son of David,” they can clearly identify with Christ because of His mixed racial background. However, as the Son of God, all people can identify with Him through the New Birth. The New Birth transcends every race, culture, tribe, nation, and tongue!
Let’s look briefly at some notable men in the New Testament and beyond who were people of color: • Simon of Cyrene, who helped carry the cross of Christ (Matthew 27:32), was a dark-skinned man, as Cyrene was in northern Africa. • Lucius, who was one of the founders of the church of Antioch (Acts 13:1), was also from Cyrene. • There were also Jews from Cyrene, Media and Elam (Persia), Egypt, and Libya in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost who were filled with the Holy Spirit along with everyone else (Acts 2:9–10). • “Simeon called Niger” (“black” in Latin) (Acts 13:1). Like Lucius, Simeon was a prophet and a leader in the early Church at Antioch. He helped ordain and commission Paul and Silas for their first missionary journey.
• The Ethiopian eunuch, who was led to Christ through Philip (Acts 8:26–39). The Greek word translated “Ethiopian” means “burnt face,” so they were definitely a darkskinned people. He was a high official in the court of the Queen of the Ethiopians. • Augustine (AD 354–430), the Bishop of Hippo in northern Africa, was one of the greatest scholars of the early Church. Thought to be of Berber descent, Augustine in all probability was a person of dark skin. • Tertullian (AD 160–215) was also from North Africa. He was a brilliant lawyer who converted to Christianity, and then became one of the greatest thinkers, writers, and apologists of the early Christian Church.
Tying It All Together As we begin to wrap up this study on race, let’s remember a truth. All people should first seek their identity in God’s Word—not in anthropology, archaeology, or sociology. Only the Bible tells us who we all are by creation as the “sons of Adam.” The Bible assures us that we all come from the same spiritual family tree and therefore we all have the same racial roots. Further, the Bible assures us that through the corruption of the fall, we all equally have the same sinful, rotten roots. As David said in Psalm 51:5, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Most importantly, only in the revelation of the Bible can we know who we are through Christ. By virtue of our natural birth we are “in Adam.” By virtue of our new birth we are “in Christ.” When we are “in Him” we are a new creation (2
Corinthians 5:17), a new man or woman (Ephesians 2:15; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:9–10), and “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9–10). So, this biblical understanding frees blacks and people of color from the myth of inferiority. Likewise, whites and lighter-skinned people are freed from the myth of superiority! Only in Christ can we discover our true identity and then affirm the racial differences and distinctions of others. We are only complete or full in Him (Colossians 2:10). Therefore, no race of people can find their true identity outside of Jesus Christ. Only as we are in Christ Jesus are we made complete. God is calling out a people unto Himself “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). As we are in Him through salvation and grow up in Him through sanctification, we are made complete spiritually, mentally, emotionally, sexually, and racially!
Agents of Reconciliation Back in 1968, we realized that one does not gradually drift out of racism into reconciliation. It only happens with positive, proactive intentionality—beginning with a radical change of heart. It can’t be overstated enough that racism is not a skin problem, but a sin problem! When your heart changes, your will can resolve to change. Then and only then will we have the desire and will to be the ministers of reconciliation that God called us to as His disciples. Both inside and outside God’s embassy called the Church, we are to be Christ’s ambassadors. It is through us that God is making His appeal: “Be reconciled to God” so that we can be reconciled to man (2 Corinthians 5:20). When we cease that ministry of reconciliation, we are guilty of receiving “God’s grace in vain” (2 Corinthians 6:1). That means that we are liv-
ing like Jesus never died to reconcile us to God or to reconcile us to others. Saints, it is time for us to step into these growing gaps of alienation with the kind of words and deeds of reconciliation that will result in renewed racial and social changes for God’s glory and the good of others. Expressions of social hostility in America only testify to the spiritual separation from God and His love that is generating all of this alienation of brother against brother. This reminds us afresh of the accuracy of the Lord’s prophecy over two thousand years ago. In that teaching, Jesus gave a number of “signs of the times” to His disciples before He died on the cross. But, just as Jesus accurately predicted, there has been a steady increase in the intensity of “nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7). As a reminder, when Jesus used the word nation, He was not talking about geopolitical nations as our maps have portrayed. The word in the original Greek is ethnos, from which we get the word “ethnic.” It means
a group of people who are united by a common kinship, culture, or tradition. So whenever possible, let’s step into the gap of alienation and racial conflict with the reconciliation of God’s love. It’s our only hope as a country and world. Politics cannot bridge these gaps, but the cross can!