Richards: Racism has no place in Bible-believing church

Not only is racial reconciliation biblically based, but it is biblically mandated, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention Executive Director Jim Richards said at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s leadership summit, March 27. As one of nearly 40 speakers at the summit, Richards called for a commitment to intentional efforts toward racial reconciliation for the sake of the gospel.

“As we show our love one for another, the world—a lost and dying world that is in need of the gospel and in need of Jesus Christ—will see that Jesus and our love for each other, and because of that our testimony will even be stronger,” Richards said, pointing out that Jesus said the world will recognize his disciples by their love, one for another.

With a desire to help churches portray that love without respect to skin color and to undergird a reflection of the diverse throne room of heaven in earthly churches, Richards said SBTC launched its Look Like Heaven campaign in 2013. 

“When the Look Like Heaven campaign came up, we definitely had to have a biblical basis,” Richards said, pointing to Revelation 7:9-17, which served as the foundation of the effort. “In that passage of Scripture you find the biblical basis for our churches to look like heaven. In that passage we see that there are nations and people and tribes and languages around the throne of God worshiping God and giving him glory and exalting his name.”

Those heavenly realities need earthly applications, Richards said. He explained that despite physical differences, humans share the same creator, are saved by the same Christ, share the same struggles and are to serve in the same calling of preaching the gospel to all nations. The gospel, he said, should be the commonality that causes people to flock together—not skin color or ethnicity.

Reflecting that heavenly unity on earth, he said, requires intentionality.

“That means we have to get out of our comfort zones and engage those that perhaps we don’t know,” Richards said.

He offered several practical steps churches and individual Christians can take to move toward racial reconciliation including repenting of racism, diversifying church leadership and observing racial reconciliation Sunday each year, among other things. 

“I grew up in the segregated South,” Richards said. “God saved me, called me to preach, and he has allowed me to see miracle after miracle after miracle in race relations. But it’s never going to end this side of heaven. So, it is a constant work that we’re committed to on this journey together to use the gospel to bring about racial reconciliation so that we can help our churches look like heaven.”

Watch Richards’ message here.

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