Our Nation Is Still Divided by Race
Some of you are probably thinking are you serious? You can’t possibly mean that the church is God’s answer to racism. That would be a good joke for Jimmy Fallon to open up with on ‘The Tonight Show’ but an utterly foolish claim to make when our nation is on the brink of exploding with racial tension and unrest. If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive he would probably weep over the state of the church for it is arguably one of the most segregated institutions in America. In one of his most often repeated quotes he said, "It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning." That was in 1968 and sadly not much has changed.
Fifty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Blacks have made amazing advances and contributions in most areas of our American Society. The swearing in of Barack Obama as President of the United States on January 20, 2009 was surely a sign that racism and prejudice was no longer a major issue in our nation. Yet the day after Barack Obama’s election the number of people joining white supremacist groups were on the increase[i].
Racism and prejudice are deeply entrenched in the soul of America caused by over 200 years of slavery and nearly 90 years of Jim Crow laws. It has been foolish for us to think that changed laws, educational advances, financial success and the election of a black man as President of the United States could heal these wounds and bridge the great divide. As a nation there have been tremendous strides for some, on the surface, but deep down in our heart of hearts have we really changed? The public outcry after the death of Trevon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman along with the recent death of Michael Brown after being repeatedly shot by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo has shown that we are a nation that is still deeply divided by race.
A Greater Divide Overcome
This division in our nation pales in comparison to the great divide that sin has caused between God and man. As human beings we have to come to the realization that the greatest atrocities ever committed are not those that man has committed against man but that man has committed against God.
God created man in His image and in His likeness as the pinnacle of His creation. God, in His love, made man so that he could experience a personal relationship with Him. God, in His goodness, gave man everything that he needed. God gave man a help mate, woman, so that under God they could rule and care for the earth. They were created by God for His pleasure and for His glory, to live with Him in obedience to His word. Yet the man rebelled against God (see Genesis 3) and was sentenced to death, eternal separation from God, no longer able to have a relationship with Him. The sin of this one man has affected us all and each and every one of us has sinned against God (Romans 3:23, 5:12). We deserve God’s holy wrath to be poured out upon us for our sins committed against Him (Romans 6:23a). Our sin against the Holy One left us separated and alienated from the Creator of all things and the Giver of life.
The old church hymn says, ‘What can wash away our sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.’ God, in His infinite love, chose to send His Son into the world to die for our sin rather than let us get the eternal damnation that we justly deserve. Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead so that we could be declared right with God and have brand new life through faith in Him. By the blood that He shed on the cross, God forgives our sins and reconciles our relationship with Him. By this great display of God’s abundant mercy and amazing grace this great divide has been overcome.
Some of you may be thinking, what does the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to forgive men’s sins and reconcile us to God have to do with healing the division along racial lines in this nation? And others of you are thinking, what does this have to do with the church being God’s answer to racism? It has absolutely everything to do with it. For if God is great enough to bridge the infinite gulf that exists between Him and man, then surely He must be able to overcome the divide between human beings due to race, nationality, socio-economic status and gender. Not only is God able to but He has already done it in the lives of those who have received Jesus Christ by faith. These individuals are individual members of the body of Christ, of whom Jesus is the head, also known as the Church. We'll look more fully at this next week in part 2.
 State of Hate: White Supremacist Groups Growing – Confronting The New Faces of Hate