The first reason why I’m planting a racially diverse church in Cincinnati: it’s biblical.
The second reason is this: The world wants racial reconciliation, but only the gospel can deliver it. Everywhere you look, from corporate advertisements to college promotional materials to fashion magazines, it is clear that people want to see a diversity of faces in the imagery. Martin Luther King, Jr. did our country a great service by helping to expose racial hypocrisy. He was (perhaps naively) convinced that white Christians would rush to his aid but most didn’t.
During the civil rights era, our country has come a long way to give all people of various races equal opportunities for advancement. Everyone is clamoring for it. You can’t watch the evening news without seeing it in the advertisements, or hearing of someone being sentences to probation and “diversity training,” or a story about someone violating political correctness with a “gaffe.” In fact, one of Joe Biden’s most recent gaffes involved referring to Obama as an African American who is “clean” and “articulate.” The world loves racial diversity.
But churches have long remained segregated.
Those who desire true racial reconciliation can only find it in the gospel. Here’s what I mean. The gospel tells us that we are all in desperate need of redemption for our sins. We have a common disease (sin) and a common enemy (Satan). Regardless of race, everyone on planet earth has this problem. Furthermore, we all have, as Pascal famously stated, a “God shaped vacuum” in our hearts that can only be filled by Jesus Christ. Our deepest longings and our highest aspirations are fulfilled in Him.
As such, Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 5 that Christ has given us the “ministry of reconciliation,” where men urge their fellow men to “be reconciled to God.” Our reconciliation to God entails new allegiances, new familial relationships, new identities based on our spiritual commonalities rather than our physical differences. Being reconciled with God should naturally lead to being reconciled to fellow children of God.
Can anything other than Christ deliver this reconciliation? Of course not. Worldly reconciliation can only be achieved through pluralism. “Diversity” becomes an idol we bow to and standards of right and wrong are made to serve this idol. As a result, it doesn’t matter what you think or how you live, as long as you demonstrate “tolerance,” which is code language for pluralism.
The gospel insists that everyone is sinful, and only Christ is worthy of universal honor. Revelation 5 highlights the 7-fold worthiness of Jesus, who is worthy to receive “power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
Jesus crushes our common enemy and unites us under his glorious rule. That’s true reconciliation, and only the gospel can deliver it.