1Charleston: Celebrating the Multi-Ethnic Gospel Together
When Paul speaks of confronting Peter of his hypocrisy and racism in Galatians 2:14, he states that Peter’s conduct “was not in step with the truth of the gospel.” In Sovereign Grace, we love the gospel. We are gospel-centered, we are gospel-preaching, we are gospel-singing, we are gospel people. But over the last few years, I’ve been convicted of an application of the gospel that I’ve neglected. It is how the gospel and race go together.
I live very close to Charleston, SC, the city that echoed the first shots of the Civil War. Two hundred and fifty years prior to that, my city brought in Africans, and ported at Sullivan’s Island in order for slave-traders to clean up the “product” who had spent weeks laying in their own excrement crossing the Atlantic. They would then take these black men and women to Charleston and sell them as a piece of “property”—an investment at the Slave Market on Chalmers Street.
Some think that the effects of slavery do not affect us today. Maybe that is true in the 99% white communities in South Dakota or Idaho, but in South Carolina, it has been 400 years of war—spiritual war. The issue of “racial reconciliation” has been tackled by educators, sociologists, and politicians, but this issue will not relent. This issue will not concede because it is not an education issue, a sociological issue, or a political issue. It is a gospel issue.
Over the last several days, we have been trying to make that single connection for the folks of Charleston, SC. Our church and 12 other churches and organizations came together at the 1Charleston conference to say, “Racism is a gospel issue” and we want to celebrate the multi-ethnic gospel together!
We sat under the wonderful preaching (via video) of Bryan Loritts, Tony Evans, and John Piper on why ethnic harmony matters and how it really is a gospel issue. We had panel discussions where we asked a diverse group hard questions about “white privilege,” “black culture,” “white fear,” “black sensitivity,” and a host of other issues. But we kept coming back to the gospel!
We ended our time by praying and singing—a room full of Christian blacks and whites at Charleston Southern University holding hands and singing the negro spiritual, “Amazing Grace.” It was powerful. It was encouraging. It was a pleasure recounting the gospel with one voice. The powerful gospel that can awaken dead sinners is the same gospel that can reconcile 400 years of division. May the Lord allow Sovereign Grace Churches to be a family of churches that looks as diverse as Heaven will look as we celebrate the multiethnic gospel together.
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