Many years ago I had the privilege of speaking in one of our country’s largest African-American churches. The place was packed, people were crowded into overflow areas. The entire audience was African American except for one little row of white guys who came because they knew me. It was an amazing experience. The service was 3½ hours. After the service nobody left—they gathered in the courtyard for lunch and later reconvened for another service. It was the closest thing to real family In the Body of Christ I had experienced in a long time.
I was seated on the platform with the Bishop, his elders and the entire choir. In fact, in this culture they all stay on the platform during the message. Though I was the main speaker there were three others who brought brief messages before I got up. The atmosphere was charismatic and very exciting.
My teaching that morning was how to have an intimate relationship with God. As I stepped upped to the podium, the first words out of my mouth were, I am sick and tired of racial reconciliation. My next thought was, D’Acchioli I sure hope you know what you are doing. Talk about controversial! You could hear a pin drop. I quickly followed with an appeal for my audience to please hear me out, hear my heart. I continued. We have more laws on the books in the US today to encourage Racial Reconciliation then in any other nation in the history of the world. Is Law working?
When you try to legislate social justice in the absence of righteousness, all you breed is bitterness, contempt and hate.
I asked them to please understand I am not saying we should not have laws. There are only two ways to govern man, God’s way and man’s way. God’s way is inside-out. The heart of man is transformed so that basic laws governing human behavior work. When you take God out of man it is no longer inside-out. You will need more laws and social restraints because man without God will always go the wrong way—that’s why our prisons are full.
They reluctantly agreed laws are not working. I continued, What about talk? There is more talk about Racial Reconciliation today than ever before. Promise Keepers at the time was making a valiant effort to lead the way with a clarion call to break down the walls. This kind of discussion is important, and should not be minimized as an influential tactic. But is talking about it getting the job done? Most people in my audience gestured no.
I went on to explain, The way I see it, we have two choices: We could quit trying and just accept the notion that Racial Reconciliation will never be possible. I asked, is that an option? Many shouted NO!. Then I suggested that it indeed is an option to some—they are called bigots. But is it an option if you are a follower of Christ? Of course not, the Bible is very clear that we are to be reconciled as a people. The Lord would never have instructed us in this way if it were not possible. So, where does that leave us? We are left with only one other possibility, It can be done but we have yet to find the winning formula.
Then, I asked a powerful question, would you like me to share with you the secret to racial reconciliation? I can only imagine what many of them were thinking. I am sure it was colorful (pun intended). Then I said very seriously that I had discovered it—do you want me to share it? They told me I should go for it.
I asked them, and would ask you right now, to close your eyes and think about someone you know, I don’t care what color their skin is, where they are from or what they have done, that is radically in love with Jesus. Someone who has Jesus’ blood pumping through their veins, a role model of what it is like to be truly intimate with God. Then I said this. Please raise your hand if you can think of anyone who fits that description who has a racist bone in their body? I have shared this story in dozens of places literally around the world and never seen a hand go up.
So, dear ones what that does that suggest to you? Who do you and I need to be reconciled with? I asked them to say His name—they said Jesus. I asked them to repeat that name three times. I asked the question, why? Then I came down off the platform and walked up and down the aisles looking at people and gently touching them saying, Because there is no way I can love you…or you…or you, in my flesh the way Jesus calls me to love you. But, once I am so reconciled with my Lord that He allows me to see you THROUGH HIS EYES…there is no way you are not the most precious human being on planet earth. There were a lot of tears, mine included.
I went on to say, Church we are doing it wrong. You get your eyes off me, I get my eyes off you, and you and I focus on Jesus…Guess what, everything else takes care of itself. I am persuaded that this is the secret not only to racial reconciliation but life itself. Our unwillingness to take this seriously is also the reason why the Church is losing the battle for our culture today. We have to get this.
I concluded my message that morning by reciting the two greatest commandments, love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and then love your neighbor as yourself. I suggested that they were in that order for a reason…you can not achieve the latter without doing the former.
This last Pentecost Sunday my pastor suggested that there are two revolutions playing out in our world today and I could not agree more. There is one driven by the devil himself, which is sadly gaining a lot of ground right now and leading us to utter darkness. And then there is a very real Kingdom Revolution being called for by our Lord as he wants us, His Body, to bring light. We are desperate, and I believe poised right now, for a Kingdom Revolution. People are hungry and ready for it.
More and deeper dialogue, laws and aptly applied justice are certainly important and called for but, in and of themselves will always fall short. The answers for our current dilemma can only be found in the person of Jesus. The person of Jesus will only be reflected in those who are His followers, that is the way God intends it to be.
My friend please hear me, the institutionalized church will never see a kingdom revolution unless it is first experienced in the life of its people. That means you and I have to get our eyes off the world, its problems, messages and challenges and focus on our intimate relationship with Jesus. It is an individual call to a level of commitment that sadly too many are unwilling to make. But, we have to take this seriously—the stakes are very high.
Here are two simple yet profound verses for us all to commit to. Pray about the implications in your life were you to live out what these verses are telling us to do.
Resist the world:
Therefore, Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. 2 Cor. 6:17
Draw near to Him:
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… James 4:8
A final word for Pastors and leaders—resist the temptation to use the world’s strategies for engaging this issue. Make the focus of your church what Jesus always intended it to be…MAKE DISCIPLES!