July 2, 2020

Responding to Racial Tension

Bill Wilson

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.

Ephesians 2:14

I am grateful that I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood and had parents that instilled in me the importance of respect and honor for all ethnicities. Many times, I recall having guests in our home whose skin color or cultural background were unlike mine. Actually, it was a highlight to discover God’s family is diverse and that every person is important to God and should be treated with respect and love.

I admit that I was shocked when I discovered in my teen years that there were systemic racial tensions that existed in our culture. I struggled to believe that some people resented and even detested others from a different race or culture. Sadly, I discovered that this underlining sinful attitude was even prevalent in some churches.

One of the most moving moments in my adult life was attending a Promise Keepers event in Atlanta, Georgia. Over 43 thousand ministers of all backgrounds and persuasions came to gather under the banner of “racial reconciliation.”  The healing steps that were taken to build bridges and breakdown walls of systemic racism in the church and culture were powerful. I never forgot it. Over the last few weeks, I have continued to check my own heart regarding the current division and detestation that has consumed so many in our nation. I honestly believe this is a huge opportunity for God’s people to provide genuine expression of healing, hope, and help. We must continue to pray for the healing of our land. 

Here are five actions we can take:

  1. Love
    Genuine Christ-like love must be in our tone and response. Showing love to people who have been disenfranchised or demoralized by sinful and selfish behavior will open the door for healing conversations.
  2. Listen
    James tells us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. Listening to people’s stories is one of the most important steps one can take. It has been said, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Listening will help bring progress and healing. 
  3. Lament
    In the 2 Chronicles 7:14 prayer, there is the directive to ask for forgiveness. Lamenting is grieving for the injustice and discrimination that has been in the hearts and actions of our nation. Nehemiah wept over the sins of God’s people and asked God to help him restore the city. Let us weep over our nation and ask for restoration. 
  4. Learn
    Recently I heard Pastor T. D. Jakes encourage us to learn during this time. Learn about others and most importantly learn the heart of God. 
  5. Lead
    Each of us have been called by God to live our lives in such a way that people will not only be inspired but give glory to God. Lead by having an attitude of redemption and by taking actions of reconciliation. We have been called by God to be reconcilers.  

We have seen the ugly work of the enemy in the hearts of people. It is time for us to see the glorious work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of people. Join me in asking God to turn the hearts of our nation to Him.  

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