Sunday, August 28, 2016


My wife and I attended a Jesus for Muslims meeting, where we saw a Jewish believer embrace a Muslim believer in Christ in love. However, there were no indications that they had attended Jewish-Muslim reconciliation conferences in order to first iron out their differences. Perhaps they understood that what they now shared in Christ took precedence over any ethic or historical differences.

We were thinking that if they had tried out the reconciliation venue that their different perspectives would have just exacerbated the raw feelings and divisions. Instead, it appears that their love and unity were a product of the overwhelming glory of Christ and the forgiveness that He had granted them. It was apparent that it was this forgiveness that had liberated them from both sin and their overriding sectarian identifications.

This made me think about other racial divisions – Black and White – we encounter, even in the Church. For the sake of Christ and the unity He had prayed for (John 17:20-23), I had wanted to thrash out these differences. However, I have been meditating on some verses that are leading me in another direction. Paul had counseled that our conversation should promote love rather than:

·       To devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the STEWARDSHIP FROM GOD THAT IS BY FAITH. The aim of our charge is LOVE that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into VAIN DISCUSSION. (1 Timothy 1:4-6; ESV)

Will discussions about race promote unity or division? Do they fall under the category of “vain discussions?” Elsewhere, Paul warned against “unprofitable” “foolish controversies”:

·       But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him. (Titus 3:9-10)

Will the attempt to reconcile our differing opinions on race “stir up division?” I have seen and heard about too many failed attempts. They had resulted in the very thing that Paul had warned us about – division. This doesn’t mean that these issues aren’t very real and sincerely held. They are! However, it doesn’t seem that thrashing them out can lead to unity.

I had agreed to be a panelist for a discussion on “Racial Reconciliation in the Church.” However, I am rethinking this tentative commitment. If it creates quarrels, it violates the council of Scripture:

·       As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but NOT TO QUARREL OVER OPINIONS…Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:1-4)

I am convinced that God is able to make us stand together in unity even if we avoid certain contentious and divisive issues. It has become clear to me that as we move towards maturity in Christ, we also move towards unity with one another. How does this happen?

·       Rather, speaking the truth [of Christ] in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

Perhaps growth and unity doesn’t depend on resolving all of our peripheral issues. Perhaps love and unity are better served by keeping our eyes and hopes on Christ alone. (Of course, present problems in the Church have to be addressed and resolved – Acts 6:1-6.) I don’t see how this strategy can fail us.

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