The Gospel & Racial Reconciliation
This Saturday, June 17, is the second anniversary of the shooting at Emanuel AME, where nine black churchgoers were killed because of the color of their skin. This anniversary causes our church to stop and reflect because it served as a turning point for our city, our state, and perhaps the entire country, forcing us to see the brutal reality that racism is still alive and well, alive enough to make someone murder innocent people just because they were black. It woke us up to recognize that, even over 50 years after the civil rights movement, racism may not be explicit or politically correct, but it is still here, and it is still dividing our nation.
Specifically for Christians, this tragedy confronted us with the reality that there is also a divide among the body of Christ, even though racial unity may be championed by many. Especially in a place like Charleston - the “Holy City” - there are hundreds of churches, but few of them reflect the diversity of our city. Heritage, culture, and stylistic preferences tend to lead us to worship with people who look and sound like us. But the terrible event of two years ago woke our city up, bringing black and white pastors and parishioners together, showing that the gospel of Jesus Christ is more powerful than our cultural divides. God created us all in his image (Genesis 1:26), and through Christ’s death and resurrection, all people are able to be reconciled to God (Colossians 3:11,28).
But, if we in Charleston, and specifically at Centerpoint Church, are to fully see the beauty of the gospel lived out through racial reconciliation, we still have a long road ahead of us. If we desire to see multi-ethnic churches, we must begin by having multi-ethnic friendships. And through those friendships, we must seek to understand each other’s cultures. What music do they like? Who are their heroes? What issues are important to them? What makes their culture special? More specifically, whites must seek to understand the struggle our black brothers and sisters face. We must seek to know and understand the history and heritage of each other’s churches, and not be blind to how God has moved over time to lead us to where we are now.
So, as you reflect on this tragic day, our challenge to you is to begin to make headway on forging authentic multi-ethnic friendships. Find someone who doesn’t look like you - a coworker, a neighbor, anyone - and get to know them. We may have ways to go, but we pray God uses these types of relationships to transform our city, where years from now, there are houses of worship all over Charleston with not only blacks and whites worshipping together, but those from every tribe, tongue and nation (Revelation 7:9).