5 min read
5 Min Read
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. […] If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” – 1 John 4:7-12, 20-21
Minister Dustin Benge, Ph.D., is a lecturer and administrative research assistant at The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies on the campus of Southern Seminary.
He has taken on the very delicate conversation of racial injustice. His advice is one that every Christian can agree on, without compromise or shame. Below he lists seven ways a believer can help fill the divide that is so prevalent in our day: racism.
“What can I do about racism?
1. Preach a reconciling gospel.
2. Identify racism as sin.
3. Love my neighbor with Christ’s love.
4. Search my own heart.
5. Open my arms in humble welcome.
6. Weep with those that weep.
7. Bow as one before Christ in worship.”
At first, the question sounds daunting, perhaps frightening as many would want to avoid discussing such a divisive issue like racism. But church history shows us that believers, clergy, and leadership ought not to avoid issues of contention but in fact confront them openly as apostle Paul did by correcting apostle Peter’s hypocrisy in front of the body of Christ.
Apostle Peter had begun disassociating himself from gentiles because he had Jewish friends, primarily those of a more conservative side of Judaism, who did not associate with Greek people. Paul made it his goal to show Peter that his heart was not in the right place for Christ has given us the freedom to love and accept believers from every nation, race, and tongue. Peter had failed in this respect and needed loving correction. Immediate correction.
One might see here, Peter’s early spirit of separation might equate to today’s spirit of segregation. Not only that of the race but also that of politics.
Our world has suffered under the sin of racism for centuries and this divide once promoted, now is disdained and hated by many. And it is only right that the church of God represents Christ on earth by sharing the gospel of redemption, reconciliation, and righteousness, all of which are by the grace of God.
In this endeavor, we must understand that being the salt of the earth, in a preservative nature, we must stymie our cultural and societal decay by denouncing behaviors, practices, policies, and laws that deride the sanctity of life and violate human rights.
The church was called to condemn the sins of the Spanish Inquisition as the state church sanctioned the brutal torture and killing of people they categorized as heretics; it was called to the condemn the sins of Crusaders who razed Europe and the middle east to the ground, burning villages and people, raping and pillaging in their attempt to retake Jerusalem from Muslims, whilst displaying the cross of Christ on their shields; it was called to condemn the sins of both the Nazi and Communist regimes, whose sole intent was to eradicate an ethnic group while the other wanted to crush an entire class of people under its iron fist.
The church is called to point people to the Most Holy God and in this pursuit, their personal lives ought to be transformed by the regeneration of their mind, heart, and soul, thus instilling in them the fruits of the Spirit which are used by God to help us love and protect our neighbors.
It was in this mindset that abolitionists in the United States and Great Britain strained and stressed, day and night to repeal, destroy, abolish and outlaw slavery in its every form and predominantly that which was based on race.
Unfortunately, our society is still coping with the ramifications of hundreds of years of racial injustice and abuse of power in the name of racial superiority.
This gives us, believers in Christ, the opportunity to demonstrate the heart of Jesus to mankind, not just redeeming their souls from sin but rescuing their body from earthly oppression.
Minister Dustin Benge’s advice to the church is not cumbersome as some would have us think. To preach the reconciliatory power of the gospel, identify an egregious sin, love our neighbor, search our hearts, welcome our hurting brothers and sisters into our arms, weep with them as Christ wept with Mary and Martha near Lazarus’ tomb, and become one body under Christ is not cumbersome at all.
These are beautiful expectations of a believer in our times but it can only be accomplished by God’s Holy Spirit working in us, strengthening us for this honorable task laid before Christ’s church.
It speaks volumes when Christ’s church is silent in the face of moral, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual decay.
I pray we take advantage of this opportunity to display Christ as He is: Glorious, Redeemer, Healer, Forgiver, Avenger, Almighty, and God with us.
Let us show the world how Jesus is the only one who can destroy racism in the mind, quicken love in the heart, and regenerate the soul of mankind.
“And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” – 1 John 4:21