Race and Gospel Harmony

Racial Harmony is Powered by God’s Grace (Romans 12:3-8)

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:3-8 ESV).

Verses 3-8 describe the unity of the body of Christ. We are varying parts of the body, but all belong to each other. We all have spiritual gifts, literally, grace gifts, to serve one another.

That’s a powerful picture of racial harmony. One body. Differing gifts and callings and purposes, but one body. All the parts are equal. All the parts are important. All the parts are valuable.

Why should the thumb care about the knee? Why should the elbow serve the foot? Because we are one body. When one body part hurts, the other body parts hurt with it.

In a healthy body, when one part is injured, the other parts instantly rally. Think about the last time you slammed your finger in a door or hit it with a hammer. How does your body respond? Imagine the body saying, “Now Thumb, it’s your own fault for being in the door. Throb away, we don’t care.” Or, “Thumb, this the fifth time this year you’ve been hurt. Enough already!”

If I may draw the analogy, George Floyd’s death created instant pain among our African American brothers and sisters. How should the white and brown and Asian American members respond? Like a body. Come around. Show we hurt too. Reinforce love and value.

In the many conversations I have had, the theme I hear from the black community is that they want to be heard and understood and loved. They are hurting. Will we come around them? Hear them? Hurt with them? Walk with them?

What do we call it when a body part feels pain but the rest of the body is unaware? Doesn’t feel it with them? We call it leprosy. Leprosy is bacteria that affect the nervous system. If you get this disease, your foot or hand or body part can experience pain and the rest of the body is ignorant of the pain.

Any leprosy in the church? Any leprous members not feeling the body’s pain? I’m glad to tell you today that Jesus healed leprosy and he still heals leprosy. May there be no leprosy in the church of Jesus Christ.

I’ve been thinking about racism as it compares to the church’s decades-long heavy involvement in the value of the unborn child. This flows from our firm belief that life begins at conception and God’s image is stamped on that unborn child. God’s image is treasured because God is treasured. What does that look like here in our region? Lots of financial and volunteer support to the Women’s Center of Northwest Indiana. Many people are heavily vested in saving lives that bear God’s image. Amen.

Might it provide a model for an equally important life and justice issue like racism? What would it look like if our effort for racial harmony in the church resembled our effort for the unborn of whatever region you are in? The same biblical truth is at stake in both. What if a similar effort for both was put forward?

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

© 2020 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

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