By Dr. Derwin L. Gray
In 1967, four years before I was born, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., penned, “Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?” The title of his book is both haunting and inspiriting. It haunts us because America and the American church still have a racial divide. It’s inspiriting because the God of Scripture has always desired to create a multicolored family, clothed in unity and love.
So where do we go from here? We should seek to take four immediate steps to help us heal the racial divide.
1. Learn the real problem
First, as God’s multiethnic family, we must understand and engage the real problem: sin and the dark powers of evil. White people are not the problem. Black people are not the problem. No single ethnic group is the problem. The problem is the corruptive nature of sin.No single ethnic group is the problem. The problem is the corruptive nature of sin. — @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet
We are hopelessly broken beyond repair. We need the Carpenter Himself to fix us. Until we dig out the root, we’re just going to be cutting weeds, and the weeds are going to keep growing. Racism, along with other sins, attached itself to humanity like a parasite.
Dr. Anthony Bradley, professor of religious studies at the King’s College, helps us understand the various ways sin affects our society:
“Moreover, the devil is real and works through people (Luke 8:29). Does racism exist in institutions and structures in 2020? It depends. Because of the fall and reality of the devil, it is not inconceivable to believe that structures of sin exist, but the evidence will need to make that clear on a case-by-case basis. Does white supremacy explain everything that is wrong in America? No. Does racism explain all racial struggles and racial disparities that non-whites face in America? No. That view is overly simplistic, unsophisticated, and monistic. The world is too complex for one theory to explain all of the differentiated ways we see the implications of Genesis 3 reverberate throughout American culture where class and race intersect.”
2. Listen compassionately
Second, we must learn to listen compassionately. As we heal the racial divide, one of the greatest gifts you can give your brothers and sisters in Christ is to listen to their stories with compassion.As we knit our hearts to Jesus’s heart, He gives us the capacity to hear each other’s hurts and enter each other’s pain. — @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet
The word compassion means “to suffer with.” As we knit our hearts to Jesus’s heart, He gives us the capacity to hear each other’s hurts and enter each other’s pain. When we truly start seeing each other as siblings, we can start listening compassionately to each other. To my white brothers and sisters, one of the most precious gifts you can give your siblings of color when they share pains and struggles are these words: “I believe you. I am sorry that happened to you. I am for you. We are in this together.”
3. Love extravagantly
Third, we must learn to love extravagantly. Jesus was an extravagant lover of God and people. Love is acting on behalf of the one you love when in the face of fear. Love is sacrificial. Love is consistent.Our racial divide will ultimately be healed by white, Black, Asian, Latino, and Indigenous people who are committed to loving God and their siblings in Christ. — @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet
Our racial divide will ultimately be healed by white, Black, Asian, Latino, and Indigenous people who are committed to loving God and their siblings in Christ, willing to sacrifice, and devoted to showing up every day in the power of the Holy Spirit. Love must inform our conversations and our actions.
4. Live courageously
Fourth, we must leverage our lives courageously as ambassadors of Jesus. To leverage our lives for the betterment of another means to follow the pattern of Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Leveraging our lives in the kingdom requires courage. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is handing God your fear and God handing you His power. Courage is telling Jesus, “I can’t, but I know you can.” Courage is learning new things and unlearning old things.Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is handing God your fear and God handing you His power. — @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet
The dark powers of evil want to keep the racial divide in place. Those who have yet to be redeemed and regenerated or those who are immature or stubborn in their faith want to keep the racial divide in place. This resistance does not matter, because Jesus is greater. In Christ Jesus, we are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37, CSB).
I believe He is looking for His people of all ethnicities to trust and follow Him. We must become extremists of love. Love makes us courageous. Our Jewish Messiah, King Jesus, specializes in giving all His people courage (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 18).
You have been summoned by the King by royal decree. He wants to teach you how to learn, listen, love, and leverage your life for the sake of His gospel and His kingdom. The racial divide can be healed, but it’s going to require you to commit yourself to the work of Jesus.
Derwin is the co-founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. He is a former NFL player and author of several books, including his most recent, How To Heal Our Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew, about Racial Reconciliation. Learn more at DerwinLGray.com.
Adapted from an excerpt in Dr. Gray’s forthcoming book, How To Heal The Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew, about Racial Reconciliation.