Scripture: Ephesians 2:15-16
His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
Reflection: Putting To Death Racial Hostility
By John Tillman
In the ancient world, every race and people claimed supremacy. Supremacy of race or of country is an ideology that is based on one of the oldest, perhaps first, sins: pride.
The secular vision of evolution does not posit equality as a trait or as a policy. In fact evolutionary biology is the source of much of the past century’s eugenics-based racist thought.
Our culture’s concept of human equality is based not in science, but in Christ. The wellspring of the concept of racial equality is the cross of Christ as described in the above verse from Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. The first voice in history crying out for racial equality and the end of slavery was a Christian one.
This is why it is such an enduring tragedy that throughout history the church has struggled to keep various strains of racism from infecting and crippling the church and its work. Every era of the church is touched—and sometimes scarred—with this struggle.
While it is true that without Christian abolitionists, the abomination of racial slavery would still be common, it is equally true that many Christians also stood on the other side. Many lent support to slavery as a legal institution—allowing economic needs and cultural norms to force an ungodly twisting of their theology. (Economic needs and cultural norms fuel today’s illegal slavery crisis—including sexual slavery and secular society still has no answer to the problem.)
Idolatry takes many forms and modern Christians are just as susceptible to them as our first century counterparts were. We must not let nationalistic pride become the idol that keeps us from pursuing the death of racial hostility through the cross of Christ. Only at the cross can we drop our pride, let our hostility die, and take up the new life of unity that Christ died to give us.
Christians must take the lead in racial issues because we have the only viable ideology that, if we let it, will counter the ideology of hate. We cannot grow weary. We cannot tire of addressing the issue. We have the only answer.
Because so many Christians haven’t yet learned, these words of Paul must continually be proclaimed—that in Christ the barriers of race, language, culture, and social class are all transcended. For man to put up these superficial fences truly reflects the superficiality of his humanity. — Dr. Nelson Hayashida
The Request for Presence
Be seated on your lofty throne, O Most High; O Lord, judge the nations. — Psalm 7:8
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.
Full prayer available online and in print.
1 Kings 4-5 (Listen – 7:21)
Ephesians 2 (Listen – 3:04)