I can’t remember a time in my life when the tensions between “races” has been so high. The hatred at times seems like it is swelling to the point of bursting. From politicians to athletes, everyone seems to have an opinion and a response to the injustices and protests against inequality. The church of our Lord must not remain silent on this issue. More so, the church of our Lord must not remain passive on this issue.
In 2015 the Kentucky Baptist Convention passed a resolution on cooperative missions and racial reconciliation. In essence, the resolution affirmed our creation by God from one bloodline and our command to make disciples of all nations. The resolution further confessed our misappropriation of “race” as sinful against black, brown, and yellow image-bearers throughout our nation’s and state’s early history. In fact, we erroneously “defended the right to enslave African peoples, treating them as chattel, stifling their ability to pursue life, liberty, and economic autonomy.” Because of our racialized thinking, we hindered multi-ethnic cooperative missions for the first one-hundred years of Kentucky Baptist existence.
Therefore, as a convention, we are resolved to unite together for the advancement of the gospel as a “symphony of multiracial voices who glorify the slain and risen Lamb (Rev 5:9-10). In acknowledging our past sins of racism, we further resolve to live out the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit “in relationship with black, brown, and yellow brothers and sisters in our great Convention.” Furthermore, we commit to “intentionally pursue at least one ethnic minority congregation in mutual friendship and love in order to reach our world for the glory of God.”
Resolutions are good insomuch as they have feet. The gospel of Jesus compels us not simply to place ink on paper for resolutions, but to link arms and to serve together for God’s glory among the nations. It’s one thing for us to vote on resolutions or even to “amen” the truth that Jesus breaks down the dividing wall of hostility that exists among differing groups of people (Eph 2:11-22). Yes, the world needs to hear our denials of racism (all forms of racism) and our affirmations that all people are created equal and are thus image-bearers of God. But it is altogether different for them to see us live these denials and affirmations out to a watching world.
Our brother James was pretty plain about truth without any action. He said the two are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they go hand in hand. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). In other words, it’s one thing for us to pass a resolution; it’s another thing to live it out.
I am encouraged by what I see among Kentucky Baptists seeking to live out not only a resolution, but what gets at the core of the gospel. Jesus “reconciles us both (all groups of people) to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Eph 2:16). What the world needs to see in the midst of continued hatred across differing ethnic groups is the change that the gospel brings. The world needs to witness the joining of arms and the serving of feet that are red, yellow, black, brown, and white. For indeed, each of these are precious in His sight. Kentucky Baptists, let’s live out the gospel by serving together as one new body in Christ, and demonstrate to a watching world that Jesus restores what was once broken.
Written by Doug Williams, Kentucky Baptist Convention Missions Strategist.