An Ecumenical Hope Post Zimmerman Trial
The death of Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman trial show there are deep wounds and grievances in this country and too many people who profit from fanning the flames. Too many in the white community see violence in the black community and think, “That’s their problem. Blacks killing blacks, we’ll let them figure it out.” But it is not their problem. It is all of our problem. No one wants to be a victim of crime. Besides, much of the crime is not related to race, but related truly to income and only superficially related to skin color. This is a problem that will continue to fester unless there is more dialogue. White and black America more and more speak in different language and, more and more, upper income white America speaks in a language completely different from the poor and middle class regardless of race.From my vantage point, the best dialogue to transcend the divide is that of the saving Gospel that heals all wounds. Much of the societal decay we have now stems from decades of government trying and failing to feed the body with liberals trying and failing to feed the soul. There is, however, only one lasting food the soul can truly digest and only God can provide it. We will continue to have these problems unless evangelical, Bible believing churches, start building lasting relationships across racial lines in their own communities. There won’t be uniform doctrine, but there is one Jesus who churches can share — the Jesus who is, not the Jesus some create.Want to see evangelical, Bible believers together at a rally regardless of race? Go to a pro-life rally. More and more white pastors have convinced their black brethren that abortion is a blight on the black community. They are right. The number of abortions in the black community is astronomical.Sadly, when black preachers rally against violence in their own community, too often the rallies consist of just the black preachers and a few white preachers sprinkled about. All too typically, these white preachers are the social justice liberals who are more interested in the social gospel and not the actual Gospel.This has been an ecumenical failure among Bible believing, evangelical churches. The nation really does have some deep divides along race. Churches are often pretty heavily one race or another. Congregants go where they live or where their families went to church. Likewise, because of many post-Civil War historic reasons, many black churches are instilled with a culture white churches do not have.Many white, evangelical churches see their counterparts in the black community as if they are in a whole separate country. They hear the rhetoric and the theology of some, which sounds a lot like liberal social gospel, and don’t make eye contact instead of finding common ground in the Word.To be fair, many evangelical churches have been burned by ecumenicalism. From the World Council on Churches to this latest evangelical group for immigration, much of ecumenicalism is a launching pad for liberal abandonment of the Gospel of Christ in favor of the gospel of liberalism. Many of the more well known black churches are, for a variety of reasons, seen as being tied to that theologically weak liberalism interested in the here and now instead of the hereafter. So the white evangelicals are skittish and prefer these matters be worked out under their roofs where they control the theology. But whether on their own or as groups, evangelical, Bible believing churches, whether free-will or reformed, need to start building bridges to the black community of Bible believing churches.If the left and the social gospel crowd remain the only ones building bridges, we will never heal what truly divides us. Focused on feeding bodies that will be hungry again tomorrow and feeding senses of grievance that also will be hungry tomorrow, the left and social gospel crowd will not feed the soul.Evangelical churches are varied, many, and all over the map. The congregants come from different backgrounds, different skin colors, and different accents. But they all share a common tongue — the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He can mend all fences and build all bridges.The problems the black community faces are too easily dismissed as their problem. In truth, they are our problem because the black community is as much a part of the American community as you and me. But in greater truth, they are our problem because Christ is for all and he tells us all to go forth, baptize, and teach. Perhaps it is time for relationship building in our backyards instead of on beaches in far off countries. Too often there, well off white Christian kids work on their tans, hammer nails, and speak Jesusese to strangers totally unaware of spiritual hunger just down the street. It’s time they find out.