No, racial reconciliation isn’t dead, but perhaps Christians need to talk about the topic differently.
God has put in my heart a dream of a multi-racial church in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. In that previous sentence, there’s about three things that people have told me are foolish ideas. I have been told that (1) Cincinnati is “rough soil” for church planting, and (2) downtown Cincinnati is especially difficult, but to be (3) multi-racial is just plain out of the question.
I believe that God can and will do it, however. And right now, God has answered my prayers of raising up a core group of Christian leaders who want to see the same thing happen downtown in Cincinnati. But I have been beating my head against a wall trying to figure out how to make our group more ethnically diverse.
Yesterday, I met Alvin Sanders, the Chief Diversity Officer for the Evangelical Free denomination. He recommends talking in terms of simply “reconciliation” rather than the more emotionally charged “racial reconciliation.”
He told me that the racial reconciliation conversation is dead. Christians should be talking about how God is in the business of reconciling all things to Himself, not merely races. I agree with him, as I have argued here.
He wrote about this recently:
So let me define racial reconciliation from my perspective. To begin, the Duke Center for Reconciliation defines reconciliation as God’s initiative, restoring a broken world to God’s intentions by reconciling “to Himself all things” through Christ (Colossians 1:20): the relationship between people and God, between people themselves, and between people and God’s created earth.
It is important to note that racial division is but one of many forms of brokenness found in our world that needs to be reconciled. Therefore, reconciliation in any form is the mission of God in our broken world.
The church is the only institution that has been supernaturally commissioned to practice reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:16-21). In fact, Jesus told us that a blessing follows as we engage in bringing peace to divided situations (Matthew 5:9).
The only way reconciliation-whether racial or any other type-will become a priority within a church is if it is viewed as a mark of the gospel. Oftentimes, churches resist stressing reconciliation, offering up the explanation that they are focused on fulfilling the Great Commission.
My response is that it is impossible to fulfill the Great Commission without fulfilling the first and second greatest commandments-which, together, are a call to reconciliation (Matthew 22:37-40). Reconciling brokenness of all forms to a world dominated by political, cultural, racial, and ethnic conflict is a witness to the superiority of the authentic Christian life.
It is ironic that as I type this, many national news outlets are reporting that minorities as a whole will outnumber whites by 2043 within the United States. History has proven that with these demographic changes will come numerous racial incidents and ethnic tensions.
The church must have a uniquely Christian response to these demographic changes that reflects the love of Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we will be viewed as just another powerless institution.