Racism in the American church? Breathe into a paper bag

(BNC) — Religious self-flagellation appears to be a growing thing among American Christians. Some saints are berating the American church for racism, after recent political events and terrorist actions. These disciples play, albeit unwittingly, into the hands of political power brokers who are looking to break everyone they consider to be opposition.

Dear family of God, don’t hyperventilate; breathe into a paper bag. If you are living according to God’s will, relax. If you’re not, repent. And don’t try to be the pope with definitive pronouncements about the sorry state of the brotherhood.

Keep doing what you’re doing: proclaiming the gospel to all, living in peace with your brothers and sisters in the congregation, showing love to your neighbor.

Christians do not glory in any worldly status, be it color, tax bracket, social class, celebrity, or any other distinction regarded highly by man.

“We exult in Christ Jesus” Phil 3.3. We glory in God, not in our diplomas, strength, or wealth, Jer 9.23-24. The rich glory in the passing of their wealth, and the poor in their high position in Christ:

Now the believer of humble means should take pride in his high position. But the rich person’s pride should be in his humiliation, because he will pass away like a wildflower in the meadow. For the sun rises with its heat and dries up the meadow; the petal of the flower falls off and its beauty is lost forever. So also the rich person in the midst of his pursuits will wither away, Jas 1.9-11.

James’s text is just another way of saying that who we are here on earth and what we possess have no bearing on our spiritual status before God or on our eternal destination.

Vicki and I have been honored to receive in our home meetings the poor who live in a two-room hovel and the rich who live in a mansion in the city’s finest gated community, all at the same time, all united in Jesus Christ. Black, white, and brown come together under the Lordship of he who is God in the flesh, and God over all.

If there is anyone among us, in our own congregation, who is racist or prejudiced or who refuses to receive someone unlike him, that person must be confronted with the need to repent. If repentance is not forthcoming, warnings must ensue and, eventually, exclusion from the fellowship of the faithful.

That’s the Lord’s way, essential discipline of those in error, not breathing out public rants of despair.

If a congregation besides your own shows such characteristics, the faithful within it must deal with it, since we must respect their autonomy. If its ungodly and worldly attitudes cannot be corrected, they must choose when to leave it. Because the doctrine of the gospel being offered to all is among the greatest and most important teachings of Scripture, as much so as baptism for the remission of sins and the singing of songs in the assemblies.

Let those well-intentioned brothers and sisters who are all worried about denouncing racism, so that we don’t look bad before the world, consider that we have nothing to do with, and hold no interests in, the politics or manipulations of the country in which we reside.

As God’s people and family, we are the ultimate anti-culture. Let us be who we are. Let us show that in Christ are found the love, peace, and joy that others are striving for in the world without success. Let us demonstrate that, among us, the peace of God reigns, respect for every person dominates, and kindness and gentleness guide every word and action.

For we follow the example and order of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Randal and his wife Vicki have lived and worked in Brazil since Nov. 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. He likes to read novels in his back-porch hammock. http://randal.us

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