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  • Writer's pictureJoel Riehle

Is Racial Division a Christian Issue?

Love & Diversity Series / Post One

Is Racial Division a Christian Issue? Translation: Should fixing racism and other social causes be a Christian’s responsibility? When the riots in Charlottesville were breaking out, the leadership at my church was called out on social media for not speaking out against it. At first I was offended. No one likes being told they're letting people down. And quite honestly the kind of online presence I keep does not involve me posting about things outside the realm of my twin girls or this blog. Still there was an uneasiness in my spirit about this rebuke and I determined to allow God time to speak to me about it. "I don't want to talk about social issues. I want to save my influence for Christian stuff," I could hear myself saying. But conviction still set in. Of course racial and all social justice issues ARE GOSPEL ISSUES!

And here’s why I initially resisted posting about political and social issues like the continued racism in America. They are peripheral-gospel issues. Not because they are not important! But because they are symptomatic, not causational. If we cured all racism and ended all forms of slavery we wouldn’t have struck at the root of the problem. But if we made disciples of everyone then we would literally have heaven on earth.

Racism wouldn’t even be a thing.

But if you truly want to fix this problem for future generations, let’s take a multi-faceted approach. You can't say 'I am going to focus on Jesus and you can focus on the world.' Because they are not contradictory. In fact if you come anywhere near Jesus you will have a heart for the world...especially those hurting in it.

1. We need to make disciples of ourselves and others around us.

2. If you are doing that properly then you will be caring about social justice issues in the process.

We know this will take years and require our whole selves, but it is truly Jesus’ example of how to modify the whole world’s behavior.

In 325 A.D Emperor Constantine banned gladiator fighting saying that they were "bloody spectacles [that were not] suitable for civil ease and domestic quiet." These traditional forms of entertainment exploited the lower classes, promoted violence and were inhumane. But they existed for hundreds of years. Why? Because the people tolerated them.

By the 4th century Christian evangelism had torn through the ranks of the Roman Empire. And so Constantine’s decision, while bold, was not against the grain.

I want to fight hate, end sex trafficking, and create a culture of love and valuation for all people. But the only way I know how to truly fix these problems is by spreading the gospel and getting it to take root in more people’s hearts.

I think it should be our goal to change culture. But we do that one life at a time and by practicing it ourselves. I want to join with those who have organized marches and prayer vigils. I want to support raising awareness and raising funds and creating more equal opportunities for the marginalized. But may we never lose focus on bringing God's kingdom and our individual role in that monumental event.

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