Why white evangelicals should care about racial reconciliation
These past few years have been a journey for many white evangelicals. Before we start, I have to confess that I am a recovering racist — not the KKK type or the Confederate flag waving type or even one that used language like the “N” word. I was more of a subtle racist. The type you should think of when you hear the term “microaggression.”
If you would have asked me if I was a racist I would have said “No!” because I didn’t look like that overt style. However, as I was reading the Bible more I realized I had been looking at the world through a political lens instead of a Biblical lens.
That realization started me on a journey to really explore what the Bible has to say about how Bible-believing-Christians should interact with one another, especially when different ethnicities and races are involved. I started realizing God’s big design for all of humanity is that His Kingdom will someday be “a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
I realized if I was uncomfortable around people who did not look like me, then heaven would be really uncomfortable.
That introduction takes us to the conversation at hand — why white evangelicals should care about racial reconciliation. I preached the Sunday after George Floyd was killed. The text included a story where a guy named Lot was taken captive by some warring kings. There was a big war and four kings captured goods including Lot and his family.
Lot was the nephew of Abram. A survivor tells Abram Lot was taken captive. Abram assembled 318 trained men and pursued Lot’s captors. When they caught up with them, Abram and his 318 men attacked and defeated the four armies.
In getting ready to preach that story I was brought to an important question — what do you do when there is a crisis that does not directly affect you? Abram could have easily said, “That is terrible for Lot, but he made his choices.”
But that is not how Abram reacts. His heart breaks for someone who is in the middle of a crisis and he does not stay silent. Abram chooses to make Lot’s crisis his own crisis.
As white evangelicals, we need to be a lot more like Abram. As a white evangelical, I need to be more like Abram. My heart needs to break every time I see the name of another black man killed by police. Not because I’m trying to take sides, but because I have friends who are black men who are weeping and mourning the death of George Floyd and Daunte Wright and many others. They weep as they wonder if their name will be next; because they imagine it was their brother, or father or son. They often weep alone because they don’t feel heard.
As white evangelicals it is time for us to fulfill the call of the Apostle Paul — “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”
It is time we stop throwing accusations around; that we stop pointing fingers and politicizing every event; that we fall on our knees and weep with our minority brothers and sisters in the faith who are mourning. It is time our heart breaks with the hearts of so many others. Most importantly, it is time our hearts break because God’s heart is breaking.
So, I’m looking for my 318 men and women who will join me in running into this seemingly impossible battle. I have set a daily alarm on my phone for 3:18 to pray for racial reconciliation and to pray God will move in a mighty way in this community. My hope is there will be a multitude of people from different races and backgrounds joining in this prayer. Will you be one of the 318? Can I count on you to pray with me, wherever you may be, at 3:18?
Steve Bensema is the lead pastor for
Cornerstone Church in Marshalltown.