The beginning of the year is always a time that brings racial reconciliation to the forefront of my mind. In mid- January, we commemorate the life of Martin Luther King Jr., who in modern times is the embodiment of a life given to see those of different ethnicities live in harmony. February then marks the beginning of Black History Month, which is a time that celebrates people who have contributed to our lives as a whole but who have also been overlooked by the majority culture.
Sadly, in 2015, I look at our country and see there is still room for us to grow in what it means for people to be “not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” With the recent incidences in Ferguson and New York City, I have seen that there are still underlying issues that need to be addressed in our hearts regarding embracing the “other.”
This isn’t anything new. Sin has fractured not only our relationship with God but also our relationship with others. And broken relationships across ethnic lines are as old as the Tower of Babel. This was a wrestle for the early church– Jews and non-Jews wrestled with how they could be be united when for so long they had focused on what divided them. Paul writes these striking words to address this:
“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” (Ephesians 2:11-16)
Here, Paul says that in Christ God isn’t merely assimilating one people group into another but actually creating a new people. This new people is reconciled to God and, therefore, reconciled to one another.
You might be wondering, “what does this have to do with mentoring?” Well, the majority of our mentors would consider themselves white or Anglo while all of our children and families are African American or Latino. That means the majority of you are in a cross-ethnic, long-term, Christ-centered relationship.
This is the first step of racial reconciliation– to see others as created in the image of God and to enter into relationships (with just as much to learn as to give).
Imagine if all believers in our city, regardless of their ethnicity, were committed to entering into a relationship with one family that was different than them? How much more would we learn and grow as a city? And how much more would God be glorified as His multi-ethnic bride spread his kingdom in spite of the hostility in the culture? So, please continue to press on in your relationships to love well and to learn. In this, God gets glory.
Billy Rose, Director of Mentoring