Thoughts, a prayer and resources on injustice and racial reconciliation
Over the past few weeks my heart has been profoundly impacted by the shocking events and racial unrest playing out across our country. I’m sure yours has been as well. As I have prayed and asked God to show me what He wants me to do so that I am part of the solution and not part of the problem, I was reminded of our Nazarene denominational statement on racism and discrimination. Because we are an international church with hundreds of cultural and ethnic expressions, the Church of the Nazarene has already reflected deeply and written extensively about discrimination. Allow me to highlight some portions:
We believe that God is the Creator of all people, and that of one blood are all people created… Therefore, we renounce any form of racial and ethnic indifference, exclusion, subjugation, or oppression as a grave sin against God and our fellow human beings. We lament the legacy of every form of racism throughout the world, and we seek to confront that legacy through repentance, reconciliation, and biblical justice. We seek to repent of every behavior in which we have been overtly or covertly complicit with the sin of racism, both past and present; and in confession and lament we seek forgiveness and reconciliation….We call upon Nazarenes everywhere to identify and seek to remove acts and structures of prejudice, to facilitate occasions for seeking forgiveness and reconciliation, and to take action toward empowering those who have been marginalized.”
Let’s pray this prayer together that these words would lead us and guide us in the days ahead. “Father God, would you help this statement to be for us more than just words. As we search our own hearts and examine our own actions, I pray that our lives will reflect the greatest of all the commandments…to unreservedly love God and to unreservedly love others. Help us find ways to put this kind of love and grace and healing and reconciliation into practice in the days, weeks, months and years to come. Amen.”
Below you will find some resources I have watched or am in the process of making my way through personally. While I may not necessarily agree with or understand everything in them they are helping me better understand what Tony Evans calls…“kingdom-focused unity. Why we don’t have it, what we need to do to get it and what it will look like when we do.”
Videos & Other Resources
Grace, Justice, & Mercy: An Evening with Bryan Stevenson & Rev. Tim Keller – In an age of mass incarceration and growing racial tension, how can a church committed to the flourishing of a whole city engage as ambassadors of reconciliation and restoration? Bryan Stevenson & Tim Keller will help us explore ways to sustain hope through a grace filled pursuit of justice and mercy as they draw from their own calling and work.
Oneness Embraced: Reconciliation, the Kingdom, and How We are Stronger Together by Tony Evans – Tony Evans is the senior pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas and president of the Urban Alternative. With the bible as a guide and heaven as the goal, this book calls people to kingdom-focused unity. It tells us why we don’t have it, what we need to get it and what it will look like when we do.
Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice by Brenda Salter McNeil – Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil is a Pastor at Quest Church in Seattle and a professor at SPU. At the end of each chapter there is a “get practical” section where she challenges readers to make a next step or has questions for reflection.
Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation by Latasha Morrison – Latasha Morrison is a bridge builder, reconciler and compelling voice in the fight for racial justice. The goal of the nonprofit organization, Be the Bridge, is to equip the church to have a distinctive and transformative response to racism and racial division. Discussion questions make this an excellent choice for a group study.
The Church and the Racial Divide – Bible Study Book: Finding Unity in the Race-Transcending Gospel by Trevor Atwood – This resource features video teaching from key leaders discussing race, culture, and the gospel. Using these evangelical voices and Bible study, participants will learn about racial reconciliation and be equipped to be part of the solution.
Be the Bridge: A 5-Day YouVersion Plan By Latasha Morrison – How does racial reconciliation start with us, in our relationship with God and others? For the next five days we’ll explore what it means to build bridges to racial reconciliation—in our lives, in our relationships, in our communities. We will journey through awareness, lament, shame, and forgiveness, to hope. Because the church is the first place our culture should look to for healing.
Uncommon Ground 5-Day Devotional by Tim Keller and John Inazu – This 5-day devotional reminds Christians how they can respectfully interact with people whose beliefs are radically different and remain faithful to the gospel. Through prayer you will learn how to think deeply and working daily to live with humility, patience, and tolerance in our time.