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Why Racism Is Hell on Earth

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The recent scenes in Charlottesville, Shelbyville, and our hometown of Murfreesboro were examples of real-life, in-your-face hell on earth.

As white supremacists marched down the streets with Confederate and Nazi flags, screaming racial slurs and hailing Hitler, we saw the antithesis of heaven:

You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slaughtered,
and you purchased people
for God by your blood
from every tribe and language
and people and nation.
You made them a kingdom
and priests to our God,
and they will reign on the earth. (Rev. 5:9-10)

The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse. (Rev. 22:2-3)

This gathering of nations—from the Greek root word ἔθνος, where we get the word “ethnicity”—is what heaven looks like now, and gives a glimpse into New Jerusalem’s eternal population.

Eternity will not be white faces marching to destroy colors through the Nazi flag of death. Instead, it will be faces from every single hue being healed by the tree of life. Jesus’s blood has redeemed people from every ethnicity, and every ethnicity is and will be represented in God’s kingdom.

Regarding race and culture and nationality, diversity is heavenly; uniformity is hellish.

But this raises the most critical question: what should we do about it?

On the one hand, the most important thing has already been done. Ephesians 2 says that God is right now destroying racial and ethnic division through the cross.

White supremacists are not original.

We’ve seen this sort of evil and hatred throughout American history and the histories of nations throughout the world. They fancy themselves as revolutionaries and heroes, but they are stale, generic villains. The arc of history bends away from them.

Their legacy will be summed up in one word: defeat.

On the other hand, this has massive implications for Christians. Matthew 28:18-20 says that we’re called to make disciples of all nations.

I used to think of this as merely a call to “evangelism”—telling lost people about Jesus. However, it has become more and more apparent to me that this also must be paired with 2 Corinthians 5:11-21: Christians are ministers of reconciliation.

This ministry has countless implications, but a clear implication is this: making disciples of all nations and looking toward eternity, when all tribes and tongues will worship together, means breaking down walls of racial and cultural divisions.

As new creations, we are called to mirror eternity in this life. One foundational way to preview eternity is to intentionally seek justice and equality for people of every nation, tribe, and tongue. If there are no walls in eternity, there should be no walls right now.

First, then, we should admit our biases and blindness.

As Christians, we are fundamentally called to be humble, teachable, peacemaking, wall-smashing, ministers of reconciliation. So our first instinct should be to listen, not to shut our ears and throw out insults and dismissive platitudes.

If we can’t recognize that systemic issues in our land — a land whose unifying moments (Emancipation Proclamation, desegregation, voting rights, and Affirmative Action) were merely legal concessions and not intrinsically built into our foundation — then we’re just not ready to listen to those who feel the most hurt by it.

We don’t have to agree on every nuance or policy or logical conclusion, but there should be a baseline recognition of the apparent historical and ongoing separation in our country. The Christian call to pursue unity isn’t optional.

Don’t point the finger; lend an ear.

Second and relatedly, we should put this into action by not huddling up with people like us, waiting on God to sort it out later.

That would be easy. Instead, we should fight tooth-and-nail against the temptation to be comfortable and monolithic. The cross of Christ demands that we press on to the point of shed blood to love our brothers and sisters of all races and ethnicities.

Our churches should be as diverse or even more diverse than our neighborhoods (imagine Sunday morning at your church being the most diverse gathering in your neighborhood each week!).

Our dinner tables should likewise have regular seats filled with those who don’t look like us.

As Russell Moore so aptly puts it, in the fight for racial reconciliation, “We’re not getting anywhere if we gather in church with people we’d gather with if Jesus were still dead.” The death and resurrection of Jesus mean that sin and death are dead—taking hatred and division to hell with them.

To my white brothers and sisters: don’t merely post on social media about your frustration about race relations in our country.

Don’t let your actions be relegated to hashtags and retweets. True reconciliation happens around dinner tables and in marching lines. True empathy comes not only from watching another iPhone video but from putting your arms around someone whose skin doesn’t match yours.

True friendship comes not from a Twitter follow or a Sunday morning sentiment but from a lifelong commitment to co-suffering and co-laboring.

True love doesn’t happen with a half-hearted apology, but with an open mind to be an active part of the solution.

Though personal relationships are the most important, it would also help to read some books on race by black authors. Let their perspective help shape the narrative for you.

For example, read Life and Times of Frederick Douglass by Douglass and United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Newbell.

Racism is hell on earth. But we as Christians are called to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

You may feel like only one friendship, or one conversation is a waste, but it isn’t. Nothing you do in this life is inconsequential.

God works through even the smallest steps, however awkward and heavy they may seem. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Make your anywhere count.

Posted by Brandon D. Smith with
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How to Respond to Saturday's Events

By Jeremy Young

In Christ, there is no room for hate. There is no room for hatred towards people who speak different languages. There is no room for hatred towards any person with different skin color or culture. (Colossians 3:11-15).

Jesus, a Jewish man from the Middle East, bore the brunt of sin and hatred on a cross so all peoples could experience love, not hate. Hate of any kind cannot be tolerated in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, since we are a church that prays for the good of this city and for God’s peace to pervade this city, we will not stand for hatred of any kind, especially the hatred of white supremacists.

As a church, we want to provide a venue for you to fight against this hatred (Eph 6:12). We are recommending that you pray together. On Saturday, we urge you to pray with your community groups. Pray with your family. Meet with one of the groups below and pray with them.

We do not recommend venturing onto the square for any reason on Saturday unless you’ve been prayerfully convinced that you must. If you do, please follow all laws, the instruction of law enforcement, and remember that hate is never driven out by hate (hateful acts, speech, etc.) but by love.

Below is a list of items put together by one of our covenant members for you to pray through beginning today. If you would like to join together with some other people to pray, two people in our church have opened their homes for you to come pray with others (in addition to what your community group may be doing).

Please contact Dylan BlakeKatie Suggs, or Donna Robertson to get more details about those groups.

Pray for the following things:

  • Heart change for those rallying under the umbrella of White Supremacy. [Alt-right, KKK, Neo-Nazi, etc.]
  • Peaceful protest for those who go to our square in order to protest these groups. [Hate is not driven out by hate, but by a heart for reconciliation and understanding.]
  • Protection and safety of our Murfreesboro Police Department, EMS, & firemen who will be in the middle of these protests to protect the people & our community. [A lot of preparation has gone into this weekend & they diligently serve, while their families worry. Pray for their safe return home.]
  • Protection over our hospital as they prepare for the worst. [Nurses & doctors are on standby during this time in case violence breaks out.]
  • Protection over the businesses & infrastructure surrounding these events. [Businesses are closing and boarding up in hopes their livelihoods are undisturbed during this time.]
  • Discernment in how City Church can be a part in seeing true racial reconciliation within our church and our community. 
  • Wisdom in knowing what to say to those who are affected by racism in their daily lives & how to let them know that we serve a God of every tribe & nation. His arms are open wide. 
Posted by Jeremy Young with