written by: Jon Wood
The scene in Charlottesville on Saturday unfolded like a script right out of a Mississippi Burning sequel. The sad and sickening events we witnessed on TV served to reinforce the brokenness of the country we live in. I’m proud to be an American but I’m saddened by so many who call themselves Americans. We are a country that cherishes the principle that “all men are created equal” which makes it especially sickening to hear the growing voice of the angry alt-right who buy into the demonic lie that all white is all right.
Sadly, this struggle is nothing new and it’s a fight that the Christian church must lead aggressively inside her walls as well. After all, one of Satan’s most effective tools to undermine the early church was through ethnocentrism. Thankfully, the apostle Paul recognized this as a sin so vile that it demanded an aggressive response.
The book of Galatians is that response.
In Galatians 2:11-14, we see a clash of church titans. The apostle Paul got in the face of Peter to tell him that “he stood condemned.” What was the sin of the church’s foremost leader? Racism. But Peter’s form of racism didn’t come wrapped in a Nazi flag, it was much more subtle than that but no less dangerous to the witness of the church. Peter had bought into the lie that the Jewish race was superior to the Gentile races. He secretly harbored a lower view of Gentile customs and traditions while holding his own Jewish race and customs as superior.
It’s bad enough when a deacon at a Baptist church is racist, it’s a whole other thing when the chosen leader of the universal church harbors racism in his own heart. The witness of the gospel itself was on the line. Peter’s racist heart was so dark that he would completely disassociate himself from Gentile believers when his Jewish friends were watching him.
Peter undermined the gospel of Jesus Christ by physically separating himself from Gentiles.
Look at that last sentence again. The leader of the entire Christian church undermined the gospel by creating distance between his race and all the others.
So that brings us to two questions for white Christians like me who were appalled by the events they witnessed on Saturday:
QUESTION 1 – Do you intentionally find ways to build relationships with and listen to people of other races or does your Christian bubble only include people that look like you, think like you, and vote like you?
QUESTION 2 – Like Paul, do you aggressively condemn racism when you see it in yourself or your friends? It’s easy to wag a finger at Neo-Nazis buts it much harder to aggressively call out a Christian friend who patronizes the black community by suggesting “they have problems they need to work on.”
If we are truly one in Christ, then the scene at Charlottesville should stir the hearts of Christians everywhere to aggressively sniff out and destroy any residual stench of racism within the walls of the church while seeking to close the social chasm between whites and non-whites everywhere. The witness of the gospel itself is on the line.
Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [ESV]