We know we talk about racial reconciliation often, but we don't know what we're going toward. Well, we can honestly say, we believe that God has done so much of this to us, rather than us doing it for God. We see now that this fight for unity in our US context requires four biblical phases that are not linear but continuous. They each require acknowledgement and action. And they must be formed biblically, as it is easy to go after any one of these things from a cultural standpoint. These four phases are:
- Diversity. This first phase requires the celebration of diversity. It demands that we are excited by the biblical vision not of a mono-ethnic community, but of a multiethnic one. From the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), where people tried to unify to reach God, apart from God, to Acts where Peter begins to recognize God's new multiethnic community (Acts 10:1-48), all the way to Revelation where God has brought His unity to His people. Diversity has been a central theme (Revelation 7:9).
- Repentance/Forgiveness. This second phase is the first one that can be challenging for people. There is a definite reality that brokenness has entered into the sphere of relationships through the fall. For this reason, it is extremely important for the people of God to understand that diversity doesn't just happen. There is a necessity to overcome any division that exists. This primarily occurs through repentance and forgiveness. This is both individual and corporate (Nehemiah and Ezra 9). By the grace of God, Jesus Christ has already provided this for us and positionally destroyed any friction between us (Ephesians 2:11-22)!! Nevertheless, like sanctification, a necessary work of progressive participation in this work of reconciliation remains for the church until He comes again (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
- Justice. This third phase is, again, a very difficult one for many evangelicals to enter into. Nevertheless, it is required of the people of God (Micah 6:8). It is necessary for the people of God, because it is natural to God (Psalm 89:14). Because brokenness exists in relationships--reconciliation is required. But because that brokenness also includes various power imbalances justice is required. For example, before the master and slave could speak of reconciliation, the master had to realize the injustice they'd done to the slave, then recognize their equality. In this nation, there are various levels of injustice that have been exercised against various people groups, and they have been reemphasized either intentionally or unintentionally in the church. In order to have unity, we must rid ourselves of the world's way of viewing one another (2 Corinthians 5:16, Colossians 3:1-4) and view one another as "fellow heirs," "fellow-citizens," "partakers of promise," etc. (Ephesians 2:11-3:6).
- Multicultural. This is the natural outworking of understanding that in God's Kingdom no one people group, not even the Jews, are superior to another or regarded more highly. This is the underlying basis of multiculturalism. But to have true multiculturalism, we must first understand our mono-culturalism that we bring to the table. We must all rid ourselves of our own standard of preferences and embrace the reality that others bring more to the table than we could ourselves (Ephesians 3:14-21). God wants the church to look at every culture through redemptive lenses and ask not the question, “What can my culture teach them?” but rather, “What can my culture learn from them?”