Racial Diversity and Reconciliation in the Church: United, a book by Trillia Newbell
Trillia Newbell has written her first book, United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity, about friendship, diversity, and the church. Nanci and I had a delightful conversation with Trillia in September. She has great insights on her blog and articles she’s written for Desiring God, so I’m looking forward to reading United and encourage you to check it out, too.
In the book, Trillia shares her unique experiences as a black woman growing up in the South, attending a predominately white college and church, marrying a white man, and raising biracial children. She explains: “Seeing the importance of diversity in Scripture should make us want to explore how we can emulate this today. Ultimately it’s all about His glory on this earth and reflecting Him to a broken world.”
I agree. God is the creator of diversity. Separation is separation, and it hurts us and our Father who wants His children to know each other and love each other and enjoy each other’s company. Sadly, I’ve heard it said that eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America.
We can so clearly see throughout Scripture that God celebrates the diversity of His creation. He does not distinguish between races: He created man in His own image, sent His Son to save the world, and saves anyone who believes. God calls Christians to be imitators of Christ and to walk in love. If He doesn’t show partiality, neither should we. The problem with the current church model and experience for most of us is that while we affirm these truths with our lips, Sunday morning reveals a different story.
The biggest racial divide in history was between Jews and Gentiles. Writing of this divide, Paul says, “For [Christ] himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. . . . His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (Ephesians 2:14-16).
If that barrier is broken down in Christ, so is every racial barrier. This passage says that because of Christ’s work on the cross, we’re all part of the same family. We share the same Daddy, and that means we’re family. This verse tells me that if I stand at arm’s length from brothers and sisters of another color, I am opposing nothing less than the finished work of Christ. The challenge is not just affirming that truth with our lips, but allowing it to impact our churches and families.
On the New Earth we’ll never celebrate sin, but we’ll celebrate diversity in the biblical sense. We’ll be united in our common worship of King Jesus, and we’ll delight in each other’s differences, never resent or be frightened by them. Peace on Earth will be rooted in our common ruler, Christ the King, who alone is the source of “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14, NASB).