Discussing Race & Racism

Adam Gibson, the author of this post, serves as one of the pastors on our vision team, as well as one of our primary teaching pastors. For more information on our leadership, visit our

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Different Responses to Sunday

There might not be a more controversial topic in our country right now than racism and racial bias. Yesterday, I spent some time with Two Notch pastor Ant Frederick discussing the issues in Ferguson, race in general, and how the gospel informs our view of all those things.

Many have expressed gratitude simply for the topic being brought up and discussed. On the other hand, some in our church were offended by what was said, and I’ve already received feedback expressing such. Some are saying that we over-exaggerated the extent of racism in our country, while others said that we wimped out by not declaring the full extent of it. Ant and I knew that we would not please everyone with what we said, and with a topic like this I’m not even sure it’s possible to please everyone.

Things to Keep in Mind

As the conversation shifts into our LifeGroups now, I wanted to offer just a little bit of counsel:

  • Let’s keep the conversation centered on Scripture. I’m not sure that it would be most beneficial to hash through your opinions on the media’s handling of race-based issues, what changes should be made to our police forces, etc. Below are some pertinent passages of scripture. Let’s focus our conversation on God’s word.
  • Make it personal. What role does racism or racial bias play in your life? Do you have sin that needs to be repented of in this area? Don’t be quicker to point out others' sin than you are of your own. (Matthew 7:1-5) Before this is a political issue, it is a sin issue and a human issue. Don’t miss that.
  • Be quicker to listen than to speak, especially if you have racial diversity in your group. Ask others about their personal experiences. Don’t assume that the America you know is the same as the one everyone else has experienced.
  • If someone says something offensive, lovingly correct him or her by explaining why what they said was offensive. Don’t passively let it slide and don’t angrily attack back. Let’s learn to extend the grace extended to us by Jesus.
  • Never lose sight of the fact that Jesus has made us a family. We are a new race, a new humanity, the kingdom of God on the earth. The power of the gospel to unite us is more powerful that anything that might otherwise separate us. The gospel has been overcoming racism for centuries, there is no reason to think that can’t happen still today. So whether white, black, Hispanic, Asian, police officer, activist, liberal or conservative, Jesus has made us one big crazy family. Speak and live as such.

Some Helpful Scripture

As you look to process these subjects with your LifeGroup, church family, family, and friends, please consider the following Scripture:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick  to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger (James 1:19)

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Proverbs 18:2)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace,who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11-22)

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28)

O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:17-18)

For this passage, just replace "sojourner" with "minority":

“You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow's garment in pledge, but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this. (Deuteronomy 24:17-22)

“When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations— I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers.  I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless,  plead the widow's cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet,  they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (Isaiah 1:12b-18)