Addressing Racism from the Pulpit
With the recent expressions of racism, bigotry, and hatred in the U.S., how are different pastors responding? What should be said or not said from the pulpit?
The following is a brief clip from Gerald Brooks’ Sunday morning message on August, 13, 2017.
Racial Bias and the Great Commission!
Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the message and method of healing and salvation to ALL NATIONS!
You may say that the United States of America is a nation whom the Gospel has been preached to more than any other nation on planet earth. In some respects, you would be correct; and in others respects, you would be dead wrong in that assertion.
First, the Gospel must be biblically defined! It is the GOOD NEWS of GOD’S SALVATION to ALL NATIONS!!
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen.
And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
The sin of respect of persons causes a believer to neglect parts of the Gospel being proclaimed and taught if it is perceived that those whom I have a bias against might benefit from it. So we have seen throughout history, churches subtracting from the Good News based upon personal and collective biases.
For instance: The Gospel is GOOD NEWS to the poor! Jesus Christ preached and demonstrated good news to the poor. He not only preached righteousness to the poor, but He also preached God’s good pleasure in providing all of the needs of His followers and children. (See His sermon on the mount.)
What is our message to the poor? Does our version of the Gospel have loopholes which allow us to ignore certain segments of society whom we deem unworthy of God’s abundant provision? If so, why? If we alter the Gospel message in this way then is it good news to someone who is poor?
The Gospel is the GOOD NEWS to all nationalities (nations). The scope of the great commission is given by Jesus Christ Himself! The same Gospel is to be preached and disciples are to be made of all nations. What if we limit the preaching of the full Gospel to only certain people based upon our personal or collective biases? You may say that is absurd; that is not happening. Let’s examine what we are doing in missions.
We are taking the Gospel of Christ into the areas of the world that need it the most—correct? In doing so, our assumption is that those who have very little or perhaps no Christian presence are the most deserving of the chance to hear the message and receive its glorious benefits—correct? We assume that America and the western world is flooded already with the Gospel and that we don’t need to treat America and the western world as a mission field. Often the Church will rally huge resources to take the Gospel to Africa and will not lend a dime to a pastor (of African descent in America) to preach the full Gospel to people in urban and rural American settings. Then, we will accuse the same pastors of having such low impact in curbing the ills of these areas of society. Why is this happening? I suspect that is the neglect of preaching the Gospel to ALL NATIONS like Jesus Christ commanded and taking seriously enough the command to make disciples of all nations. If this Gospel is the GOOD NEWS then it is that to ALL NATIONS—including the nationalities different than the presenters of the Gospel.
We have learned to empower national leaders in other lands to reach their own people with the Gospel in their own cultural context. This has produced huge fruitful ministries in other lands. This is to be praised and supported heartily!! However, are we doing the same thing here in inner cities of America with the same purposeful strategies and wise dispensation of resources to reach people unlike us who are geographically near to us? Are we inserting ourselves to learn language and culture of urban centers for redemptive purposes or are we counting whole groups of people in America as the enemies of righteousness? Have they really heard and rejected the Gospel, or have they only heard and rejected a message that falls quite short of the glorious Gospel of Christ?
Whenever we subtract, through biases, any benefit of the Gospel from our presentation of the Gospel, someone who hears our message will be left out (discriminated against):
- Leave out righteousness and holiness to the neglect of a sin sick and confused world.
- Leave out justice to the neglected masses of oppressed people.
- Leave out healing, to the neglect of the sick.
- Leave out abundance, to the neglect of the poor.
- Leave out love and brotherhood, to the neglect of those who are different than the majority.
The Gospel message is a message of righteousness and true holiness and justice, healing, abundance, love and brotherhood.
My encouragement to pastors and churches is to preach the GOSPEL TO ALL NATIONS and live in such a way that we truly make disciples of ALL NATIONS!
Put as much energy in missions to America as we do in our heroic missions to the rest of the world. God is no respecter of persons and He does not want His Church to be respecters of persons either. However, we are guilty of practicing this sin in the churches of America and we must turn this around immediately. If we don’t, we will be responsible for the demise of this country. The Republican, Democratic, or Libertarian parties cannot save this nation. There is one Name given under Heaven that can save the NATIONS—JESUS CHRIST. I humbly submit that we all bow the knee to HIM and then arise in obedience to HIS great commission!
I think the following video also sends a very powerful and important message about God’s desires for unity among all people.
Racism is from the pit of hell. It’s been a problem since the creation of man. The Bible gives reference to racism and helps us gain perspective on what God thinks about it.
There was contention in the camp of Israel, especially between Mariam and Aaron (Numbers 12:1], because Moses had married an Ethiopian woman. Yet I find no record of God being displeased with Moses. We know Solomon married women from outside the camp of Israel, and the only thing that God confronted Solomon with was not on their ethnicity, but more importantly, on what they believed as far as their spiritual upbringing. And of course, we know his wives who were worshippers of idols did have a major impact on Solomon’s spiritual life.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul wrote, 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” But this has to do with their spiritual convictions and not the color of their skin. A believer entering into the covenant of marriage with an unbeliever can cause a lot of problems within that relationship, especially for the children born of that union. So, if one avoids that kind of “union,” it makes it easier on both sides relationally.
In John 4, Jesus is compelled to go to Samaria, and there he ministers to a Samaritan woman whose life was in shambles. Now the Jews looked down and even persecuted the Samaritans because they were half breeds, and yet Jesus didn’t promote that kind of behavior, but instead, loved her and ministered to her. Isn’t that our calling, to love one another even as Christ loved us? Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.
The Church should never shy away from addressing these issues from the pulpit. The New Testament gives us clear and irrefutable answers to the questions of racism, bigotry, and hatred between various people groups. Throughout the Scriptures, discrimination, prejudice, and animosity between Jews and Gentiles are on full display, even in the life of Jesus and His disciples.
Jesus demonstrated His willingness to step across the lines of segregation when He purposefully spoke to the woman at the well (John 4:1-42). Both the woman and the disciples, were shocked when Jesus took the time to speak with a “Samaritan.” Yet His response was focused on the “harvest” of souls, and not her gender, race, or political affiliation.
The Church has a message that can impact the current tensions in our nation. As the old saying goes, “Christianity is the great equalizer” when it comes to eternity! In Christ Jesus, there is no difference regarding nationality, gender, economics, education, heritage, or race. As Christians, the Bible says we are now “one new man!”
Ephesians 2:11-22 (Phillips N.T.)
Do not lose sight of the fact that you were born “Gentiles,” known by those whose bodies were circumcised as “the uncircumcised.” You were without Christ, you were utter strangers to God’s chosen community, the Jews, and you had no knowledge of, or right to, the promised agreements. You had nothing to look forward to and no God to whom you could turn. But now, through the blood of Christ, you who were once outside the pale are with us inside the circle of God’s love and purpose. For Christ is our living peace. He has made a unity of the conflicting elements of Jew and Gentile by breaking down the barrier which lay between us. By his sacrifice he removed the hostility of the Law, with all its commandments and rules, and made in himself out of the two, Jew and Gentile, one new man, thus producing peace. For he reconciled both to God by the sacrifice of one body on the cross, and by this act made utterly irrelevant the antagonism between them. Then he came and told both you who were far from God and us who were near that the war was over. And it is through him that both of us now can approach the Father in the one Spirit. So you are no longer outsiders or aliens, but fellow-citizens with every other Christian – you belong now to the household of God. Firmly beneath you in the foundation, God’s messengers and prophets, the actual foundation-stone being Jesus Christ himself. In him each separate piece of building, properly fitting into its neighbour, grows together into a temple consecrated to God. You are all part of this building in which God himself lives by his spirit.
Based on Paul’s lifestyle and example, pastors, teachers, and preachers must be bold enough to declare from the pulpit that we are now “one new man” in Christ, and He “is our living peace!” As we can see from Paul’s teaching, Christ’s “sacrifice” on the cross made the “antagonism” caused by racism and prejudice “utterly irrelevant.” When combining various translations of this passage, we get a better picture of God’s plan for humanity: “…Christ’s purpose was to end the hatred, hostility, and mutual enmity we had towards one another, and reconcile all of us through His death on the cross…”
The Church has been given the “word of reconciliation” and must teach the same message the Apostle Paul used when he wrote to the believers in Ephesus, addressing these issues of racism, bigotry, and hatred. This passage clearly teaches that God has told all the conflicting sides that “the war was over!” Anyone who accepts Christ will be positioned “inside the circle of God’s love and purpose.”
In these last days, the Church needs to be a living example of unity, while standing together and boldly declaring this truth every opportunity we have!
My first thought is not to address it at all. The terms used here are one-sided. If you say homosexuality is wrong (which it is) then you are a hater and a bigot. The way they use the term ‘racism’ is one-sided. For example, the media will condemn white supremacists (which they should) but not black lives matters groups (which they should). So my thought is if you are going to tackle these topics, it is to say being prejudice is wrong; God made us all. If you don’t like people just because they are a different color, that is being prejudiced. I say often if I don’t like a person I wouldn’t like them in any color. In other words, the color of their skin doesn’t matter. The terms you are referring to mean something different to the liberal person and are driven by an ungodly media. If you must speak with them, I would define them in great detail and be very specific on what the Bible teaches. I wouldn’t teach them with a broad stroke like the world does. I would only use those terms as I am defining them. Again, if I disagree with homosexuality because God says it’s wrong, that’s not being a bigot or a hater. I disagree with being prejudice from all sides—not just from one side. I would be very careful using those terms as defined by the liberal biased media.
In my church, we have Hispanic, Asian, and blended races. It seems that all we hear in the media are black and white issues. I think it is important to remember that we live in a nation that is multi-racial. That’s also the way the Body of Christ is designed.
For us, we keep our focus on loving God and loving people. Jesus taught us that the way the world will know we are His is by the way we show love toward each other. It’s amazing how after all these years, with so much teaching and such great worship services, loving each other is still our greatest challenge! This is my prayer for the Church:
Philippians 1:9-11 (GNB)
I pray that your love will keep on growing more and more, together with true knowledge and perfect judgment, so that you will be able to choose what is best. Then you will be free from all impurity and blame on the Day of Christ. Your lives will be filled with the truly good qualities which only Jesus Christ can produce, for the glory and praise of God.
Pastor John Romick, the Director of Rhema Colombia, a 32-campus network of churches and Bible colleges, gave me some powerful advice on the subject of preaching about political issues. He told me that Jesus lived during one of the most volatile political climates in human history. Their nation was occupied by a foreign power, and Jesus chose to preach about the Kingdom of God. He virtually ignored all political subjects. When others tried to entice Him to address a political issue, He simply replied, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.”
I believe Jesus’ pattern is the best pattern for most of us to take. If we have a strong message of love, faith, and hope, we stay busy promoting Jesus and His Kingdom.
I have found that addressing racial or political issues from the pulpit has only caused hurt and alienated a segment of the audience. In 2008, our church (50/50 African American/Caucasian) hosted a former Islamic leader who had received Jesus and was preaching the Gospel. As I closed the service, I echoed some of his statements and encouraged the church to vote against the anti-Christ agenda of the left. As soon as I dismissed the service, I was met by one of the African American leaders of our church that informed me that my comments were deeply hurtful to him and others. I didn’t mention race. I didn’t endorse a candidate. I didn’t say anything that I deemed controversial, but I still managed to offend a segment of the church. I did not accomplish the intended target of influencing people to the desired outcome. If anything was accomplished, it was alienating people from receiving from me spiritually.
I am a strong leader, and I embrace controversy and confrontation, but so was Jesus. I will follow His lead on this subject and let my actions of love do my preaching for me. It worked for Jesus and Dad Hagin, and it has worked for me.
Obviously, some ministers such as John Hagee feel called to preach strongly on political issues. I don’t condemn them at all. It just isn’t my specific calling. I would encourage other ministers to preach Jesus. Preach love, faith, and hope. Unless you feel a special calling to preach about race or politics, I would avoid it. You’ll alienate more people than you will influence. This isn’t a cowardly move; it is often the bravest.
Before the election, we knew that no matter the outcome, the enemy was going to try to divide us any way that he could. We decided to address it head on—not because we had a problem, but because we were expecting a great harvest of people from every nation. We knew that they would enter the church with the world’s view and we wanted to equip them with the tools to (1) not take on their offense, and (2) understand who they are in Christ.
After much prayer and study the Lord gave me a series titled, One—Living in Victory Together. We knew that fellowship was an important part of us being a family, the Body of Christ. Therefore, every Wednesday night in June we provided hamburgers and hot dogs for free and encouraged families to bring a bag of chips or dessert to share and we enjoyed an hour of fellowship before I began teaching at 7 pm. It was a huge success! You can listen to the 4-part teaching by clicking the link below:
The One Series by Lisa Womble (YouTube)
On our site:
Please let us know if you need any graphics or information on this series.
Reference material: From One Light, Many Colors by Silas Johnson, The Color of Love by Creflo Dollar, Racism in the Church: Kill the Root, Destroy the Tree by Kenneth Copeland
- It has always been, and always will be, our intention to love everyone with the love of Jesus and help anyone and everyone we can regardless of race or nationality.
- The love of the Lord Jesus Christ for everyone is emphasized.
- Those serving in the church are multiracial.
- Just before the offering, we spend a few moments greeting each other. This has become very popular and there are people of all ethnicities hugging and shaking hands.
- Youth and adult short-term mission trips are conducted in various countries representing racial diversity.
- We do not address racism from the pulpit. We try never to get into political or polarizing things.
What do you say and what do you preach about when you turn on the news and you see what’s happening in Charlottesville and the drama that is beginning to unfold all across this nation? When you open a newspaper, you turn on CNN or you log on to social media and you see all of these people trying to explain everything, trying to blame somebody, up, down, left, right, Donald Trump—like this is a new problem. This is not a new problem, this is America, and we’ve been dealing with these same problems since the inception of this country because we’ve got something truly special and unique and beautiful. Something that no one else has.
We are this wonderful melting pot of civilizations and of histories and of cultures and of skin colors, and when we have that it brings its own unique set of problems, right? Japan doesn’t have these problems. Japan is ninety eight percent Japanese. Russia doesn’t have these problems. Russia is ninety eight percent Russian. They don’t have these problems, but they also don’t share in our victories. Because the very things that make us wonderful are the very things that seek to divide us and to separate us and to cause all of these issues. This melting pot of culture and of civilization is exactly the thing that makes us so strong because one culture, one people, can only advance the ball so far down the field. But when we can come together despite all of our craziness, when we can come together behind a shared vision, a shared purpose, a shared dream of what could be, then at that point we truly become strong and we are the greatest nation that has ever existed on the face of this planet because we can come together and do something special and make a difference in our world.
You’ve probably heard it said a thousand times in the last couple of months, “Make America great again,” and as I think about that, I question it because I think to myself when was America not great? Despite all of our problems and our struggles, we have something special. When was America not great? I think the better question and the better thought process might be to ask the question, “Will America continue to be great in the future?” The answer to that question will never lie in a person; it will never lie in a president or in some hope of legislation that will solve our problems. The only answer to that question is Jesus Christ. Because Jesus Christ is the only person to ever step foot on this planet and look and say, “Love and pray for those who despitefully use you.” Despite our differences, despite all of our past indiscretions, He would say, “Turn the other cheek.” He would look and say, “Love, empower and embrace the hurting, the broken and the oppressed.” If the Church can’t be out in the front and be bold and courageous, then who can be? See, we’ve left a vacancy and now we’ve got these white supremacists, Nazis or these communist anti-facists who are beginning to be the voice. Although they’re the fringe, they are now becoming the voice of this nation, instead of the ninety three million people in this country who proclaim that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior. See, it’s time for the Church to rise to where we are called to be. The city set upon a hill, the light of the world, the salt of the earth. It’s time for the Church to look hate square in the face, no matter what kind and form or facet it comes in; whether that’s white hate, brown hate, yellow hate, we look hate square in the face and say, “not in my city, not in my country, and not in my world.” The world desperately needs Jesus and it’s high time that we gave Him to them; because when hate speaks loudly, love cannot be silent.
I imagine that the issue of racism from the pulpit depends a lot on the area and people that attend the church. We are all aware of the subject on a global scale. Several years ago I tried to address it from the pulpit and regretted it ever since. So now I just leave it alone, and I am better off as a result of it.