By Annie Corser
LOUISVILLE, KY (BP) — All ethnic groups must preach racial reconciliation for there to be change among evangelicals, said speakers during the Expositors Summit Preconference at Southern Seminary, Oct. 26.
“Racial reconciliation is not an addendum of the Gospel; racial reconciliation is wedded to the Gospel,” said Curtis Woods, associate executive director of convention relations for the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “How I see God, how I see others, and how I see myself is only made clear through the lens of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Woods, a Ph.D. student at Southern Seminary, presented an example of a multiethnic church through video testimonies before confronting “the colorblindness theory,” saying it does not represent the beauty and creativity of God.
“We are not colorblind, beloved. No, we see color through the lens of the Gospel, and now we see the color as the beauty of creativity,” Woods said. “God is unique in himself and diverse, He creates different people groups so that we can see this beautiful mosaic. … This beautiful mosaic of people coming together redeemed at one name, in the person and work of Jesus Christ.”
The one-day event, co-sponsored by the Kentucky Baptist Convention, featured messages from Woods; Jarvis Williams, associate professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern; Juan Sanchez, preaching pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church, a multiethnic congregation in Austin, TX; and Dan Hyun, lead and founding pastor of The Village Church in Baltimore.
“We are not colorblind, beloved. No, we see color through the lens of the Gospel, and now we see the color as the beauty of creativity.”
Williams opened the preconference discussing biblical steps toward removing the stain of racism from evangelical churches. He is the author of several scholarly works on how the Gospel impacts a Christian’s view of race.
“One thing that makes racism as a modern social construct so evil and potentially deadly is that racists consider individuals as superior or inferior because they appear to share imagined physical, mental, and moral attributes with the group to which they are deemed to belong. And it is assumed by the racists that no individual within that group can change,” Williams said.
To create change, Williams said individuals must be committed to “living multiethnic lifestyles and not be content with living monoethnic lifestyles.”
Hyun, an Asian American pastor in Baltimore, said a lifestyle of racial reconciliation demands dying to self and submitting to others.
“I think [the Bible is] saying that if you follow Jesus, if you believe who He is, it means that other people, their rights, their happiness, their welfare, is just as important as yours if not more,” Hyun said. “God is showing me that dying to myself means stop looking at things primarily through my lens, but the prism of other people’s eyes. Ultimately … dying to myself means that it is not all about me, either.”
Hyun reminded church leaders that the preacher has the responsibility to set the tone for what the body sees as appropriate to talk about.
“What you talk about in your pulpit becomes a safe conversation for other people in your church,” Hyun said. “So if you don’t talk about issues of justice, other people won’t think you can talk about issues of justice.”
Being found in Jesus means one is able to die to his own rights because he stands for them, Hyun said.
“Ultimately the Gospel is that you don’t have to fight for your rights anymore because you know Christ has done that for you. He has stood in your place. He’s taken upon your guilt, your shame on the cross, it’s all paid for,” Hyun said. “Because you know who you are in Christ and you’re secure, now you can be free to fight for the rights of someone else, an advocate on their behalf.”
“What you talk about in your pulpit becomes a safe conversation for other people in your church. So if you don’t talk about issues of justice, other people won’t think you can talk about issues of justice.”
In his message to church leaders, Sanchez, who was born in Puerto Rico, stated sin issues will persist in our churches because congregations are filled with sinners. He challenged preachers to understand their influence.
“Preaching shapes congregations. Preaching will shape the church,” Sanchez said. “If we are faithfully preaching the Word of God, it is going to shape the congregation in a good and biblical and wholesome way.
“The Word of God should then be reverberating through the conversation. As one of my friends says, ‘The preaching goes out and then the Word should be gossiped throughout the rest of the week.'”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ unites all people in him, Sanchez said. Therefore, evangelism is “not just a message to get people out of hell,” but it is how Christians can reveal God’s eternal plan to exalt Christ.
“Know this: Just as the Gospel revealed must be proclaimed, the Gospel proclaimed must be displayed,” Sanchez said.
The preconference preceded the annual Expositors Summit hosted by Southern Seminary, Oct. 27-29. Audio and video for the event, including a panel discussion on racial reconciliation, will be available at sbts.edu/resources/.