Soothing Racial Tension
I was walking into the church to help a pastor friend prepare for his next Hebrew quiz when I looked across the street. “How’s your neighbor doing?” An older Southern Baptist Church was my Black friend’s neighbor. “They’ve had to adjust to a lot of demographic changes. But they’ve hung in there. Their congregation is multi-racial and growing strong.”
I’ve mentioned in past Devos about Nate, a friend who did his dissertation on what Southern Baptists could learn from the Air Force about desegregation. Well, here was a local church who’s actually doing it.
Yesterday, we looked at the first church fight in Acts 6, and there was a strong racial component to the argument. The blue blood Jerusalemites spoke Hebrew. The culturally progressive newcomers spoke Greek, and when the widows who spoke Hebrew got preferential treatment over the ones who spoke Greek, the racial tensions exploded. How did the Jerusalem Church handle the conflict?
Check the names of the seven guys the church assembly put into place to wisely deal with the problem by making sure the discrimination stopped and a fair distribution of resources began.
“The Apostle’s suggested plan pleased the entire church and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Procurus, Niacanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men they had chosen to the Apostles, and they laid hands upon them. And the result? The Word of God grew and multiplied. The number of disciples in Jerusalem grew astronomically. Even many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” Acts 6:5-7
Look at those seven names. They’re all Greek, and one of them was even a Gentile who converted to Judaism and then joined fellow Jews in believing Jesus was the Messiah. We need to learn from this incident.
From the start Jesus wanted His family to be blended. If we want to have racially divers congregations and get along, we must put minority members into key positions. This is most important when the grumbling starts and things begin to fall apart. And by the way, this was one of the most important action steps the Air Force took when they got serious about integration.
LORD, continue to bless my pastor friend as he connects across racial and denominational lines with his neighbors across the street. Guide us at Southern Bible this next week to remain unified and celebrate the fact that your family from the beginning was definitely multi-racial.
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