The Only Lasting Solution to the Racial Hostility in our Country4
I’ve read and heard so many responses to the horrific murder of George Floyd that my heart is shattered and my head is spinning. I don’t know if there is anything more that can be said, but to remain silent is simply not an option.
The issue that has erupted once again in our land is not primarily political, social, economic, or educational. It is spiritual. Racism is an expression of the depravity of the human soul. It is one of many symptoms of the corruption, self-centeredness, pride, and idolatry of the human heart. And the only lasting solution to it isn’t rioting or looting or the destruction of property. The shed blood of Jesus Christ is our only hope.
Paul declared in Ephesians 2:14-16 that because of the life, the shed blood, and the resurrection of Jesus, the “hostility” between us and God has been removed. But the “peace” that Jesus has made possible is also between people of different ethnicities.
Sin has not only ruptured the relationship between God and human beings but also between human beings and all other human beings. The hostility that Paul is talking about here that has been overcome by the blood of Jesus is not only vertical, between you and God, but also horizontal, between you and me.
And the precise nature of the “hostility” that Paul has in view is racial. It is based in our different ethnicities, our different skin pigmentation, our different cultural heritage. God’s purpose in the gospel wasn’t simply to get you saved, forgiven, and into heaven. It was also designed to “create in himself one new man in place of the two” (v. 15). The two, Jew and Gentile, were previously separated from and hostile to each other. But Christ has brought them together and united them in one body, the Church of Jesus Christ. He did this “through the cross” (v. 16). The cross of Christ killed and obliterated any cause for division between Jew and Gentile. The cross of Christ has destroyed any and every reason for ethnic and racial animosity.
The racial hostility and division between Jew and Gentile in the ancient world was far more intense and vicious than any division that exists today between white and black or between any other two ethnicities. They literally hated each other. The idea that they were to be united and reconciled and brought together into loving unity and fellowship was an outrageous notion that both groups would have scoffed at in ancient times.
But God, in and through the blood of the cross of Christ, has “killed the hostility” (v. 16). He’s not talking there about the hostility between God and humans, but the hostility, animosity, and enmity between Jew and Gentile or any two ethnic groups. This is the hostility that divides races. It is the mistrust and the suspicion and the hatred that pits white against black and Hispanic against native American and Chinese against Japanese. It is the hostility that leads one person of one race to regard as inferior every person of another race.
God’s aim in the gospel isn’t simply to reconcile you to himself. It is also to reconcile you to the people of a different race, a different ethnicity, so that as one people, one body, we might all love each other and love God to his glory.
Therefore, in the sight of God there is no such thing as the white church or the black church or the Asian church or the Hispanic church or the native American Indian church. There is only the church. In the church, in the body of Christ, racial or ethnic distinctives are real, but they don’t matter. When we are born again our ethnic identity doesn’t disappear. Our skin pigmentation doesn’t change. But nothing of significance is based on the differences in our skin pigmentation or our land of origin. We are united as one “new man” in Christ. God dwells by his Spirit in all his people without regard for ethnicity.
Jesus Christ died and rose again not simply to put you in right relationship with God. He also died and rose again and sent his Spirit to us so that the enmity and anger and hostility between the many races and ethnicities might forever be destroyed and replaced with love and acceptance and joy and peace.
Thus, to whatever extent you and I perpetuate racial division or maintain in our hearts the slightest degree of prejudice or disdain, we are putting ourselves in utter opposition to God’s purposes in Christ Jesus. May God, through the Holy Spirit, bring the reality of the “peace” that Christ died to secure into our hearts and homes and churches. This is the only lasting solution to the racial hostility that so horribly infects our society today.