Stories of racial tension dominated much of the news cycle in our country last year, especially in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death in Baltimore and the AME church massacre in Charleston, SC. Ethnocentric pride is practically as old as sin itself. Yet there are times when it seems to rear its ugly head in a new way, reminding all of us that the battle against sin is far from over.
Months of reading one sad story of racial violence after another left me hungry for God’s perspective. What does the Bible say about racism? And how does the gospel offer real, practical hope for enduring, racial reconciliation? Questions like these prompted me to pick up a copy of John Piper’s book Bloodlines, which grapples with the intersection of race, the cross, and the Christian.
One of the most compelling sections moved from diagnosing the evils of racism to laying out a positive vision for ethnic and racial diversity in the church. To borrow Piper’s language, severing the root of racism is insufficient. Jesus died to destroy sin, but he also died to win for himself a bride from every tribe, language, people and nation.
“The cost of diversity was the blood and life of the Son of God. This is not an overstatement. Consider the wording of Revelation 5:9 very closely: ‘You were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’ God paid the infinite price of his own Son’s life to obtain a priesthood of believers and a kingdom of fellow rulers from every race and every ethnic group on earth. Think on it. He paid this price particularly. It was for this particular people. He ransomed people ‘from the nation.’ The issue of racial and ethnic diversity in the church is not small, because the price God paid precisely for it was not small. It was infinite.” – Piper, Bloodlines
For many years, I was content to lead a church that appeared, at least on the outside, to be free from the evils of active racism. Then God brought a large group of Latino brothers and sisters to KingsWay. It was a pure joy to welcome them, but the whole situation really took me by surprise. We hadn’t been praying for greater ethnic diversity. Nor did we have some sort of strategic diversity initiative. It was a work of God, plain and simple. The combination of friendship with church members from a wide variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, as well as reading Bloodlines, has prompted me to actively build a community that values and celebrates what God values and celebrates, namely, a people that reflect the riches of His glory through the wealth of their diversity. I don’t say that because it’s politically correct. I say that because I recognize it’s one of the goals of the gospel.
If you’ve never thought about what the Bible has to say about God’s heart for racial diversity, pick up a copy of Bloodlines in our Book Shoppe this weekend. You can also download a free PDF copy from Desiring God here. You won’t be disappointed.