The Way Forward!

As you know, last week was the 50th anniversary of the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Several times over the past few weeks, I found myself in a conversation about race relations. One thing we all agreed on: America still has a ways to go to solve the problem. That much is obvious to everyone.

What may not be so obvious is what I’ve found myself thinking over and over: The church offers the way forward! The church has answers and resources that aren’t available anywhere else. This is our time!

First, civil rights issues are ultimately heart issues, sin issues, personal attitude issues. While the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s changed laws, it had absolutely no power to change hearts. So here we are as a nation, 50 years later, still battling over some of the same issues. Enter the church, with its mission of spreading the gospel, the only truth with the power to reach the heart and transform people from the inside out. The more the gospel gains ground, the more hearts change. And the more hearts change, the less suspicion and racial prejudice will persist.

Second, the church (i.e., the gathered people, not the building) is the new temple of God, where former enemies are brought together by the Spirit. Racism is, at its essence, a form of personal alienation which resulted from the Fall, a form which arises along lines of ethnicity. The unifying Spirit, who inhabits the church, is the cure.

Third, the church is the family of God, joined together in the love of Christ. For racial reconciliation to happen in this country, it is going to take many honest, sometimes hard conversations. And where better to have them than in the church? A church is a group of believers who have literally and formally committed themselves to one another in love, with a promise to treat one another always with grace. If we can’t have these conversations here, how can we ever expect the world to have them?

Fourth, the church knows how the story ends. As the Bible draws to a close, we get a vision of a multi-ethnic, multi-racial church joining their voices together in praise to the Lamb. We alone can have confidence that our efforts will not be in vain!

The church offers the way forward. We have the gospel. We have the Spirit. We have the love of Christ. And we have the last chapter of God’s redemption story. How can we fail?!