It is not surprising that there should be an upsurge of racial consciousness and re-segregation in the media, the schools and the government. These are the the repository of popular culture, which is shallow and driven by stereotypes and fads. What else can they talk about except gender and ethnicity, and the pervasiveness of inequality? There is no capacity in the public arena for considering the transcendent values of the human spirit.
But what is most disappointing is the capitulation of so many churches and pastors to the secular agenda. If there were such a class as Christianity 101, it would state that the Gospel is really NOT about race, sex or inequality. There is a deeper level of our beings that unites us, our spirit. The true vitality of man, his danger and his triumph, occurs in this dimension. It is Good against Evil, mortality versus immortality, finitude in the face of infinity. These are the truly serious issues, they are the true context of our lives. It is in the Spirit that we know God and are known by Him, and it is through our spirits that our deepest human relationships are formed -- and these cross the lines of color and sex. You would think that church leaders, of all people, would not only realize this, but insist on this awareness in their public words and actions.
And yet again and again, we see pastors at public demonstrations and rallies speaking on behalf of ethnic empowerment and racial justice, taking sides on matters of racial disagreement. Not that this is anything new, the sellout of spiritual leaders to political propaganda has a very long and shameful history: I am reminded of the legions of white clergymen in the 50's and 60's who barred black people from joining their ethnically pure churches. Apostates from their calling to represent the Gospel of Christ, they embodied the popular culture of their day: the color line trumped the Cross.
We need to be clear about the difference between cultural values and fundamental Gospel truths. For a Christian, racial unity is not a goal to work towards, it is not an ideal. It is not a matter of rival parties sitting down together in a sort of truce to "stop the violence." Racial unity is a given for the Christian, it is part of the package of salvation. Far from being the end-result of a series of arduous conferences and painstaking concessions, it is the starting point of all inter-ethnic conversations and actions. The public expression of the Christian faith presupposes racial unity. When we are baptized into Christ, we become part of His body, and this entity supersedes all other identities and loyalties. We are identified with Jesus: "My life is hid with Christ in God." We are no longer white, black, Hispanic or Asian. We have died to those labels. When God's Spirit lives in us, the enmity that we formerly had toward God is removed and we are made His children. At the same time, and inseparably, the old racial and gender divisions of humanity are obliterated in the "one New Man."
It is therefore impossible that a Christian should show racial partisanship. To do so is the epitome of the carnal mind. Racial partiality is a sign that spiritual regeneration has not occurred, that one is still living under the delusions of the Old Covenant mentality -- the dispensation of disunity and generational hatreds. Jesus Christ has done away with all of this! He has given mankind a new start, He has baptized us into a new union. How dare we import old hostilities into this new bond of fellowship? It cannot be done -- Jesus will disown us just as surely as He did those who shut the doors of their churches against racial minorities. "Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him" (1 Jn 3:15).
The disobedience to the Gospel of some leaders in past generations does not excuse us from obeying it in ours. God has established the New Man in Christ, and our only choice is whether to be in Him or not. We are not supposed to be reacting to constant social controversies and news events, rather in the midst of social disorder we are to remain focused on what God's purposes are in our time. If we are in Him, then we are committed to fulfilling the agenda of the Holy Spirit, not that of community activists whose goal is to re-introduce racial disharmony into our schools and businesses. Martin Luther King in his day voiced the righteous call of integration. It is our job to follow up on that not by pursuing the mirage of social justice, but by proclaiming the abolition of racial consciousness among the people of God.