Genesis 1:27. The imago dei. It’s foundational to our understanding of God. It’s foundational to our understanding of us. It’s foundational to our understanding of others. We are all God’s image bearers. I’ll quote Daniel Darling from the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission: “The Bible is clear that there is no other way to look at your fellow human being other than someone sculpted by the hands of a loving God.”
When we talk about loving as we ought to love, we know that we must abandon prejudice. Prejudice and the gospel don’t mix. Christ lived and died to set us free from prejudice. When we as Christ’s body love across cultural barriers, we give people a taste of God’s heart. A glimpse of heaven. A living sermon.
What unites us, despite our differences, is Jesus. And when we love our community – and everybody in it – we further a view of the church that is attractive even to the guy who’s been burned by “the church.”
In late July I had the distinct privilege of spending some time with “Mother Georgia King” in Memphis. Mother King, who has been used of the Lord to further the cause of racial justice in the Mid-South, was very supportive and encouraging in regard to our desire to become a truly multiracial and multiethnic church family. We had a few minutes to think creatively, and to pray with and for each other. A real blessing for me.
Even for a moment, if I can be the loving shepherd who I need to be in regard to real racial reconciliation, that is who I really want to be.
For a number of years, I have admired the ministry of Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, who served faithfully at First Baptist Grand Cayman but who now pastors in the D.C. metro area. While in college, Thabiti joined an Islamic group simply because those Muslim students exhibited strong convictions in regard to absolute truth. Thankfully, a Christian believer also befriended Thabiti – and the Christian eventually helped Thabiti come to know the real, living Christ. Now Pastor Anyabwile not only passionately lives and preaches the gospel of Jesus, but he also blesses the larger community from the epicenter of the local church: the poor, the forgotten, and those who come from an educational system so intrinsically broken that all seems hopeless.
One day every nation, tribe, and tongue will worship before God’s throne. I can’t wait! Let’s practice now.
First Baptist Family, may we settle for nothing less than all-gospel, all-life, all-world impact for Christ. May our witness be fresh and winsome. May our passion be Christ and His kingdom. And may Christ’s Spirit in and through us eradicate every racial and ethnic gospel barrier for the glory of God.