The Gospel Breaks Down Racial Barriers Which Humanity Erects

When the early church accepted the Gentiles into the fellowship of the faith (it’s outlined in Acts 10 and 11 and revisited again in Acts 15) we see worked out in salvation history what Paul would later write about in Ephesians 2:12-14:

that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from 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 both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,

This breaking down of the barriers is still happening today, and not just between races but between people of all kinds who had hatred and ill-will toward one another. It breaks down barriers between abused and abuser, between criminal and victim, between the hater and the hated.

The Gospel breaks down the barriers of human distinction, erected by us as fallen humanity, and unites in Christ those who are far off, far from God and far from one another.

Spreading the Good News of this reconciliation through Christ is our mission. Paul explains this in 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2 and states it pointedly in 2 Cor. 5:18-20:

Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

If God so loved the world that Jesus came into the world not to condemn the world but to save it, then who are we to try to limit the mission of God to redeem humanity? (see Peter’s statement in Acts 11:17.)

This is especially true (and relevant) in an age and a culture where race is still an issue. Contrary to what some say, we do not yet live in a post-racial culture.) There are still ill feelings over the sad legacy of American slavery, foreign terrorists who do not look like “the average American (whatever that is) are trying to kill us, domestic terrorists are growing and they thrive on and stir up racial hatred, and illegal immigration is still an issue with people coming here fleeing oppression and poverty or simply looking for a better life for themselves and their families.

While we might ask many questions about these issues in terms of policy and law, the question for the church and for the followers of Christ is: “Can we look with compassion on these who are so different and see them as God sees them: as people in need of the grace, mercy, compassion, and deliverance of God?”

If we cannot, we need to rethink whether or not we have actually received this message of reconciliation. 

If we can, then why are we not reaching out to them when they are our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends, etc.? 

If the early church had done what you do, what many of our churches do, where would that leave you, Gentiles?


About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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