The Church Must Lead
The recent faceoff between Black Hebrew Israelites, Native Americans and young white men wearing MAGA hats is a perfect display of America’s legacy of racial hatred and violence. And America is headed for much more racial violence. Let that sink in. Our nation could easily experience serious race wars. All the ingredients are in place such as racial hatred, heavily-armed Americans, unprincipled demagoguing politicians, and rising economic tensions.
However, where there’s a real threat evil, there’s always real opportunity for love. Opportunity for someone to step in and provide real leadership. Who better to provide this leadership than authentic Christ followers? Not the feigning Christ followers we see today who are more controlled by fear, white supremacy and black victimization than they are a Kingdom agenda motivated by the love of God. When authentic Christ followers stand on Biblical principle, putting God’s Word first, true reconciliation is within reach.
The Bible outlines a four-step process for true RECONCILIATION of any dispute. Authentic white and black Christ followers should implement this Biblical process for racial reconciliation as an example to the world. Because again, America is headed for terrible racial strife and possible violence unless the Body of Christ rises up in love and leads the way toward racial reconciliation.
Here’s the process:
1. RECOGNITION. The process begins with authentic white Christ followers recognizing the racism of White America and the complicity of the white evangelical church. Matt. 5:23-24; James 5:6. Any honest white Christ follower cannot deny racism and the complicity of white preachers and theologians. One only needs to study the devastating impact of slavery, Jim Crow, systemic racism, and much more on Black America as white Christians used Scriptures for justification. It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge and thank God, however, for those white Christians throughout American history who opposed and fought racism.
What’s more, even authentic white Christian followers should engage in deep retrospection to identify the white supremacy thinking lurking in their own hearts. It’s probably difficult for many whites to detect their own white supremacy thinking because it’s likely a subconscious impulse. They mistakenly believe white supremacy is only harbored by extremists like David Dukes, the KKK, Nazis and so on. This belief is a misconception because even well-intentioned good white people are white supremacists if they deny white privilege or are unwilling to forgo white power for racial equality and Biblical justice.
2. REPENTANCE. Next, authentic white Christian followers should repent of racism. Practically speaking, repentance from racism means to turn away from racism and white supremacy. Further, it means never being silent or apathetic about racism and white supremacy. Luke 17:3, 1 John 1:10. I know white Christ followers cannot guarantee that other whites will not be racist. They can guarantee; however, they will fight and speak out against racism and white supremacy. Also, they can guarantee they will oppose racist laws and policies that harm African Americans. Opposition to racism and white supremacy is the truest form of repentance. Everything else is mere lip service. John the Baptist told the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to hear him preach that true repentance always has fruit. Matthew 3:8.
3. REPARATIONS. Reparations are restitution for a wrong done to another. When I represent people in the criminal justice system who are guilty of depriving someone of their property unlawfully, often the law or judge will require them to make restitution to the victim. Further, when I represent people in civil court who are harmed by tortfeasors, the law requires the tortfeasors to restore the victim to wholeness.
Reparation is a Biblical concept found in both the Old and New Testaments. Exodus 22:1-14; Lev. 6:2-5; Luke 19. In the Old Testament God, sanctioned reparations for Israel when He brought them out of Egyptian slavery with lots of Egyptian wealth. That set a divine precedent for reparations. Additionally, after Israel became a free nation, God required restitution before resolving crimes that resulted in victims losing their property or life.
In the New Testament, when Zacchaeus, the tax collector, became a Christ follower, his heart prompted him to repair the damage he caused to folks he cheated. Jesus affirmed Zacchaeus’ reparations by saying salvation had visited Zacchaeus’ house through his acts of restitution. Hence, Jesus continued the precedence of reparations into the New Testament.
Furthermore, the American government has repaired other groups of people it harmed such as Japanese Americans. As recent as 1988, Congress enacted a law that granted Japanese Americans reparations because the US Government imprisoned them for political reasons during World War II. What legitimate justification can there be for America not repairing Black Americans who suffered much more than any group in America, and still suffer from past and current racism today.
4. RELEASE. The last step in the reconciliation process is for blacks to release whites for past racism. To release someone is to forgive them. Luke 17:3-4. Forgiveness can be spiritual and/or legal. Spiritual forgiveness occurs in the heart. It’s the act of releasing any offenses against another person.
Legal forgiveness is different. It’s dismissing or dropping a legal claim you rightfully have against someone. You can adjudicate the claim before man and God. Yes, God holds court just like humans. In fact, we should start all our claims in God’s Court so we can prevail their first, then victory in human courts are easier. And remember, spiritual and legal forgiveness are not mutually exclusive because an individual can have one without the other. In other words, a person can exercise spiritual forgiveness, that is forgive the offender in his heart and release all offences emotionally but still prosecute his claims before man and/or God.
There can be no legitimate question of the importance of spiritual forgiveness for Christ followers. Our King and Lord gave the best example of spiritual forgiveness when he forgave his murderers as they were in the very act of murdering Him. That’s true spiritual forgiveness.
Note, I’m not talking about spiritual forgiveness here because I hope every black person has already spiritually and personally forgiven white America. I’m talking about legal and corporate forgiveness from the Black community. I’m saying Black America must forgive White America but only after white America has met the above three conditions. Perhaps this legal and corporate forgiveness could be accomplished through black groups like the Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP and other national black organizations extending forgiveness to White America by proxy for Black America.
Legally and corporately forgiving white America after the conditions are met is essential for Black America. It will enable us to focus more on opportunities America now offers rather than being fixated on past wrongs. White America will benefit as well because they’ll be free from the burden, shame and condemnation of racism and white supremacy.
Conclusion. There’s a path forward for America to avoid further and deepening racial strife. It’s not a walk through the park. That path goes straight through the Body of Christ. The world or the unsaved is incapable of healing racial and ethnic strife because they have the sin nature. Their very nature bends toward strife, conflict and fulfilling satan’s agenda. However, we, the Body of Christ, have the new nature of Christ. We’re, therefore, the hope of the world. However, we must put the Word of God above fear, white supremacy and black victimization. We, Christ followers, must recognize the past, repent for the wrongs, repair the damages and release all claims.