Why is it so Important to Talk About Race? - Radical

Why is it so Important to Talk About Race?

Why is it important to talk about race? What can Christians bring to the table in conversations about race? In this discussion, Pastor David Platt and his team seek to bring biblical unity to bear on the disunity in the church and the world. It is often easy to dismiss the racial conflict of the past. However, Pastor Platt and his team admonish fellow believers to address the racial disunity in the church and in the world, seeking to point to Christ, who binds us all together. When we see Christ as the head of the church, we can begin to see our brothers and sisters of other races as parts of the same body and members of the same family.

  1. Benefits of Unity
  2. Stories From Around the World
  3. The Church Family

All right. Well, it’s good to be together as a group of pastors and our wives here at MBC. We want to have a conversation together about unity in diversity, and specifically unity in diversity when it comes to issues of race and justice, which is where, not just in our country, we often divide, but even in the church, we oftentimes find divisions.

So I want to just set the stage with Psalm 133 and then dive in flowing from that. But Psalm chapter 133, which is in our Bible reading this week. God has ordained that we would be right there and he says in his word, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes. It’s like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there, the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”

Good and pleasant when we dwell in unity. So let’s dive in. Let’s start just by introducing yourselves to those who are listening in. So maybe we’ll start with Gustavo. I saw you were first to unmute. So Gustavo and Sarah…

And I should mention that we’re all doing this. We set this up to do late at night at our homes, so hopefully those with young kids, those kids are quietly in bed. But the chances of one of them getting up during this time in one of our homes and coming in… So we’ll just kind of give each other the freedom to get up and leave and do whatever needs to happen. And we won’t think that you are totally offended by whatever was just said at that moment. And you’ve got freedom to leave at a very tense time. When the two-year-old calls, it’s something that has to be done.

Gustavo and Sarah’s Story

So, all right. With that, Gustavo and Sarah, why don’t you just share your names and then what role you serve in at MBC, and then just what nationality or ethnicity you, your family primarily represent?

Hi. My name is Gustavo Pacheco and I am from Mexico. I was born in Mexico and I came when I was married, when I got married. So that’s how we moved to United States. I serve in the church as pastor of local outreach, and we mainly focus on reaching out people from different ethnicities in the DC area, in the greater Washington, and overseeing those gatherings of believers from different ethnicities.

Hi, and I’m Sarah, Sarah Pacheco, and I volunteer at McLean Bible Church. One of my main jobs is to make sure that Gustavo doesn’t do crazy things. But I also serve as the director of operations for MBC Latino.

Sarah, we need to have a talk, maybe, about your job performance when it comes to keeping him from doing crazy things, but we’ll talk about that we’re not on a Zoom call that a lot of people are listening into.

All right. Who would go next?

We’ll go.

James and Esther’s Story

All right. My name is James Park. This is my wife…

Esther, Esther Park.

And we are from South Korea originally. So we represent… We see ourselves Asian American population. Also, I’m serving in the role of a regional pastor at Tysons campus.

So I consider myself a 1.5 generation Korean American, because I was born and raised in my early years of life in South Korea and immigrated at the age of nine.

Eric and Janique’s Story

Keep going. Eric and Janique. Yeah.

Yeah, sure. Hey guys, I am Janique and this is Eric. Eric serves as the campus pastor for the Arlington campus of MBC, and we’re black, we are African American.

Thanks making that clear, especially those who are listening via audio, so that’s good.

DJ and Jess’s Story

All right. Let’s go DJ and Jess. You guys go next.

Yeah. Hi, my name’s DJ. I serve as a pastor of worship at McLean Bible Tysons campus, and I am Caucasian. I grew up a military brat and then in the country, but I’m also a quarter Filipino. So I cook the food, but I don’t speak the language. But I am pretty proud of that part of my heritage. So my wife, Jessica.

Hi, I’m Jess Corkey. I am on staff as a worship leader at McLean, and I am Caucasian, Irish, English, all of those.

Mike and Ashley’s Story

Good. All right, Mike and Ashley.

Hey, I’m Mike Kelsey and served as one of the teaching pastors here at the church, and then also one of the pastors at our Montgomery County campus. And I’m also Black, which, important little asterisk on that. That basically means my family was enslaved and brought here to North America from somewhere on the continent of Africa. And that’s why some people say Black, but other people say African American as kind of a shoutout to the continent of Africa where we came. But this is my wife Ashley, and-

I’m Black like Janique. And I also help out with the worship, mostly at Montgomery County campus.

That’s good. And Mike and I’ll be kind of co-leading this whole conversation, obviously [inaudible 00:06:31] different people will be jumping in at different points. And then Todd and Nancy.

Todd and Nancy Peters Story

Hi, I’m Todd Peters, one of the… I’m pastor serving at the Prince William location, and I’m a classic mutt. I identify with Scandinavia and Scotland and Ireland. But just a mutt, I’m loyal and I have a cold wet nose. Right?

Hi, I’m Nancy Peters. I’m a full-blooded Native American, Choctaw Nation, and I follow this guy around, support him, and help my children out through access or nursery.

That’s good. So I’m David.

I’m Heather.

You’re not going to say anything about yourself?

David’s wife. And my job is to make sure he doesn’t do anything crazy too. I’m just kidding.

Why is it So Important to Talk About Race?

We’ll not talk about her job performance either. All right. So as we’re serving together in the same church, why do you guys think… So just a couple of you jump in. Why do you think it’s important for us to have conversations, not just about unity as a general kind of concept, but unity amidst diversity when it comes to issues of race and justice? Why is a conversation like we’re having right now, why do we think it’s important?

Yeah, I would just start off by saying, from the very beginning of the American church, I think that disunity has been a part of it. I think about how people who looked differently were not able to gather together to worship. And so if that has something that has been in the DNA of the church from the very beginning, then I think it is something that we don’t dismiss in conversations. We don’t run away from talking about that. I think that we kind of lean into it to work through some of that.

Yeah, I’ll add to that too. I think racial disunity and division has been a nagging wound in our nation’s history. And I think as believers in Jesus Christ, we don’t back away from wounds. We actually run towards them. We apply the healing balm of Jesus Christ to wounds so that people can see the glory of God. And so when our world is talking about this division, we need to be working towards this unity and showing off that Jesus Christ is the source of that. And so I think that’s why we have to talk about it.

That’s good. Let’s say that church is a family. And in the same way that Gustavo and I try to guide our family when there is a problem, it must be discussed. We must learn to listen to each other even if we don’t agree. And we must then figure out what we need to do to move forward and to solve it. So I think that’s why this is so important.

Yeah, I think we are linked by the blood of Jesus, so we can break that [inaudible 00:09:47], and that’s what it unite us.

There’s a sense in which if anybody’s going to be having this conversation, we should be having this conversation based on what both of you guys just said. I just think about, yes, we run toward wounds and we have… The gospel uniquely has the power to help us think through these issues from the very beginning of creation. Anything else anybody else would add?

Yeah, I would-

I would just like… Go ahead. Go ahead.

Okay. I think just to piggyback off what Eric said about running to wounds, I think as the church being a family, for us to ignore or disregard something that at least for me as a minority is the source of so much pride and pain… It’s such a huge part of me. So I think we’d be falling short of having that real family bond if we don’t really talk about these things.

Yeah, it’s almost exactly what I was going to say, Ashley. And I just think of John 13 where Jesus said, “They will know that you are my disciples by your love for one another.” And if we disregard or ignore the pain of our family, then that’s not love for one another.

I think we also see when the church is silent or not speaking, society will. And I feel like if we are being trusted to lead people and shepherd people in the laws of Christ and in Christianity, I think we have to be responsible to teach on this as well.

The Great Commission and Race

It’s part of the Great Commission that we say to each other every week, in that sense, teaching… Be able to obey everything Christ has commanded us. That just infuses all of life. That’s not just… Yeah, that’s everything. It’s good. Anything else?

Yeah, I was going to add to that. And you just brought up the Great Commission. I was going to say, I think one, because of the gospel we believe in, when we think about the gospel and the commission Jesus gave, the gospel is the good news that Jesus came to save people from all nations, all people groups.

And so even though that’s talking about people groups, and I’m sure we’ll get into this, not race in the way that we think about it in America. I think it still has application that we want to make sure the gospel and the church that’s created by the gospel is good news and a good place for all different kinds of people. So the gospel we believe in, but also the world we live in is just increasingly more diverse. Our country is with immigration, but also, especially the DC area.

And so I think Jess or somebody said the world is talking about it, but I also think there are people who are victims of injustice that sometimes falls along racial lines. And so I think we need to be equipped to move toward those wounds even in our culture and society, and not just here in the United States, but think about the missionaries we send out. We want them to think well about ethnicity and race and tribal affiliation and all those things so that the gospel is able to spread effectively.

So good. It would make no sense for us to be taught about global mission to the nations and not having these kind of conversations in the church.

And other thing, I think along those lines, just an implication for what you were just saying there, Mike, is when it comes to this issue, issues of race and justice, if we are not willing to dive into these here, it’s going to have huge implications, not just for our community together, but for our own discipleship, for our own growth in the image of Christ to be able to… And it’s not even just because we have a multiracial church. It’s because we all care about justice for… That’s what drives… Even if we were all the same ethnicity represented around this call, we still should be having these conversations, because we care about justice in the world and we want to reflect that.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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