In chapter 8 of David Platt’s book, Counter Culture, he addresses the racial divisions that are sadly evident in the culture all around us. Below is an excerpt from that chapter.
The cultural division between Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews) was deep during the first century. Yet as the story of the church unfolds, we read how, to many Jews’ surprise, Gentiles began believing in Jesus. At first, Jewish Christians didn’t know how to respond. Should they even accept Gentile Christians? If so, did they need to impose Jewish customs upon them? Though Gentiles were finally accepted into the church, they felt at best like second-class Christians.
Into this atmosphere, Paul speaks to Gentile believers, saying,
You were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to 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 us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:12-14).
Then he exhorts them, saying, “Through [Jesus] we both have access in one Sprit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:18-19).
These words beautifully describe the unique power of the gospel to reunite people from (and, for that matter, within) different ethnic groups. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? For in the beginning, sin separated man and woman from God and also from one another. This sin stood (and stands) at the root of ethnic pride and prejudice. When Christ went to the cross, he conquered sin, making the way for people to be free from its hold and restored to God. In doing so, he paved the way for all people to be reconciled to one another. Followers of Christ thus have one “Father” as one “family” in one “household,” with no “dividing wall of hostility” based upon ethnic diversity. (199-200)
A while back, we had the opportunity to ask Trillia Newbell about racial diversity and unity, a topic on which she has written a book on the subject titled, United:Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity. Watch the video below to hear her advice on how churches can pursue racial diversity, and what this pursuit may look like in communities that are homogeneous.