Saturday, December 03, 2011

Racism in the Church is Anti-Gospel

Luke 5:27-32   
27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him. 29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

One of the most scandalous aspects of the ministry of Jesus was table fellowship.  Jesus had quite a reputation for celebrating the kingdom with the wrong kinds of people: tax collectors, prostitutes, and sinners.  These meals were not random events for the Messiah who simply needed to eat but rather actions that revealed the kingdom of God every bit as much as any of the other miracles Jesus performed whether healings, deliverance, or the feeding the five thousand.  In celebrating these meals with the “wrong” people Jesus was making the statement that the kingdom was not simply for the followers of the Law or ethnic Jews but for anyone who would follow the king in his work. 

The apostle Paul picks this theme up as a main theme in the book of Galatians.  Paul writes in Galatians of a time when he, the freshman apostle, had to confront the senior most apostle Peter to his face.  The issue was Peter’s hypocrisy.  Though Peter knew the only identifier in his life that mattered was Jesus he was acting otherwise.  This was particularly evident when it came to mealtime.  Peter had no problem eating with gentile believers until Jewish Christians showed up from Jerusalem.  Then Peter would separate from the gentile believers so as to keep himself “pure”.    Paul has to call Peter on this issue because it is not a simple matter of doctrinal preference but rather it is fundamental to the gospel itself.

Paul sums this whole argument up in Galatians 3:26-28
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Jesus is the only identifier that matters!  Once one has been baptized into Jesus Christ every other identifier in life becomes secondary from race to gender to social status.  We all get in to the promises of Abraham through Jesus!  This is really good news!

In early November, Thompson [pastor of Glunare Free Will Baptist Church, Pike County, Kentucky] proposed the church go on record saying that while all people were welcome to attend public worship services there, the church did not condone interracial marriage…  The proposal also said "parties of such marriages will not be received as members, nor will they be used in worship services" or other church functions, with the exception of funerals.The recommendation "is not intended to judge the salvation of anyone, but is intended to promote greater unity among the church body and the community we serve," the copy supplied to the Herald-Leader read.

I am really puzzled by the reasoning behind this decision being that it promoted greater unity in the church and the community.  Really?  It sounds more likely like the church is actually pandering to anti-gospel ideas both in their church community and in the surrounding community. 

These types of issues have been present since the early days of the church but we cannot afford to treat these issues of unity in Christ as peripheral for they are central to the announcement of Jesus as king.


charles said...

I'll start with this,all blood is red,and the sky is blue around the whole earth,these two features are in and effect every person,myself I don't really like to even use the word "race",its asked on all forms of applications etc...Its a very important matter about it is,the sin nature doesn't discriminate,it was passed on to all people from the God sacrificed his son for the world,which involves all people.In so many cities and country area's people everywhere do the same it seems...certain shades of skin color gather to their own,to actually find a homogeneous skin color church where all benefit to the fullest extent as a church could is hard to find,there are some,but not enough...yes racism is anti-gospel.God accepted Abraham's efforts because of faith. You bring up a hearty subject here Chrispen...we both know without faith its impossible to please God...people should ask themselves,who's coming to dinner,and skin color or gender should not matter....I wrote a song about this issue...and one of the line's of my song is....there's many mix up's in the genders....its got alot of people "HOMOTENDER"....which could mean intolerant to their fellow man in general....Jesus did eat with tax collectors and sinner's....and I myself am both,so the wizard of oz,the wizard asked Dorothy "who are you" and she said" my name is Dorothy,the small and we all have to ask ourselves " who are we....

greenturtle said...

After this story was released to the media, the church later recalled this ban in response to a public uproar.

But it's just lip service as a result of being called out. Their core attitudes remain unchanged. An interracial couple might technically be "welcome" on paper, but certainly never welcome in their hearts.

Reminds me of the school board member in Arkansas, who publicly posted that he wished all gays would commit suicide, citing his "christian" beliefs in the process.

In response to the resulting firestorm, he then publicly stated, "Well, yeah, I think I used the wrong choice of words." Um, yeah, I think maybe you did!

No real repentance on his part, just saying what he thought he had to say to get the public off his back.

And that brings me back to a point I made previously: What will they do with themselves, on the last day?

Once they discover that they will be spending the rest of eternity with a great many "filthy dirty" gays, Catholics, interracial couples, and so on. What will they do with themselves, then? Will they leave? It's very possible.

"But, but, homosexuality is a sin!" Absolutely, but no more than the sins we all commit on an hourly basis, every day of our lives. And certainly not out of reach of the blood Jesus shed.

Would that be the case, we'd all be in trouble.