In light of ongoing racial tension throughout the state and nation, Caleb Turner, an associate pastor at Mesquite Friendship Baptist Church and SBTC missions director Shane Pruitt sat down to discuss the role of racial reconciliation in the church.
When asked how the church should be engaging in this important issue, Turner said Christians should first begin by remembering the role Christ gave the church when he charged his early followers with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
“(Jesus) didn’t say, ‘go and make disciples that look like you.’ He didn’t say, ‘go and make disciples that you feel comfortable being around,’” Turner said. “Our purpose, our mission, and the underworking of everything that we’re doing is to go out and to bring others in, and I think the purpose of that becomes limited when we choose who we disciple and who we evangelize. The church first and foremost has to go back to the beginning and realize the importance of what Christ has laid out for us.”
Even in his lifetime, Turner said he can recall instances when he’s been the victim of prejudice as an African-American man. Both he and Pruitt agreed that Christians have to acknowledge that this present-day racism still exists in our communities and be willing to reach across the aisle to engage with fellow believers from different ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
“So often we are divided, even on Sunday mornings. … In order to really get the church going in the right direction, relationships have to be formed,” Turner said.
Pruitt added that Christ followers should empathize with one another and remember the thing that connects them, rather than what divides.
“If the church would see a common bond in grace and then walk in each other’s shoes, that would go a long way,” Pruitt said.
The men also discussed how social media has shaped race relations in modern culture and how networking applications might be hindering the reconciliation process.
Turner said ignorance is often to blame for social media posts that stir up dissention, so he suggests taking a moment to evaluate how comments might be perceived by those of a different cultural perspective before posting them to Facebook or Twitter.
Pruitt agreed, adding that everything Christians do should reflect their identity in Christ.
“If we’re new creations then that means we must see everything as our creator sees it,” Pruitt said. “I need to post as though I’m a new creation. I need to tweet as though I’m a new creation. I need to blog as though I’m a new creation.”
Because of man’s brokenness, Turner said division between people will likely always exist, but for the believer, there is hope so Christians must constantly make an effort to improve in race relations.
“It’s a process,” Turner said. “We all know that each and every day we’re going through our sanctification process, trying to be more and more like Christ. Ultimately, we’re not going to get it here on earth, but eventually we will get it.”
To view the full conversation on racial reconciliation in the church, visit sbtexas.com/onlinetraining/racial-reconciliation/767.