Dear TAPInto New Brunswick,
In New Jersey, segregation is a cultural issue that demands the immediate attention of Christians. Nearly 87 percent of Christian churches in the U.S. are either made up of only white, or only African-American parishioners. When we worship in the comfortable bubble of segregation, we miss the opportunity for racial reconciliation, as mandated by Jesus:
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35
Schools are experiencing concentrated minority populations in our state. Fewer than half of school-aged children in the State of New Jersey are white. This creates an environment where small communities that are residentially self-segregated only provide an education for their isolated population. A recent report from the UCLA Civil Rights Project indicates that New Jersey is the sixth most segregated state in the U.S. While the state government scrambles to make a plan to combat segregation in our schools, the reported 67 percent of New Jersey’s residents who declare themselves Christians must act.
There's no time to wait for the government to fix this problem. Churches are best equipped for racial reconciliation because Jesus is the objective. His goals are spiritual; not political or cultural. Christians are called to be witnesses and show the world how to bring Christ-like love and acceptance into the modern world.
In the past, white evangelical churches have received black people as bridge-builders in the work of racial reconciliation. Moving forward, it's important that we encourage and accept white bridge-builders, as well. The willingness to give up comfort and security to spur healing is powerful and should be supported by all churches.
Staying inside your bubble as you worship allows bias and prejudice to creep in. This is Satan's work, and if left unchecked, it will lead to hatred and animus.
White people must let the spirit move them to act by attending black churches and refusing to fall for the social construct of white guilt. Allowing divisive ideas to keep us segregated is a fear-based reaction that has no place in Christ's vision for the Church.
By building individual Christian relationships that transcend race, we let truth and light kill stereotypes and prejudice. In the past, people of color may have found themselves disappointed in their white sisters and brothers in Christ but they must remain open to reconciliation. Likewise, white Christians must do more than say they are different from their ancestors, who probably also attended white churches. They must not commit the sin of omission, but rather be bold and build bridges with their words as well as their actions.
Jesus wants us to be healed from the horrors of racism. Only Satan wants us to remain divided and attached to our centuries-old animosity. Jesus can move the racial mountain through the power of the Holy Spirit. Racial reconciliation isn't a social agenda. Real disciples of Christ in 2018 must commit their hearts to this issue and hear the Gospel message from Jesus.
"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:18
Jesus wants racial healing in our churches and our communities. This Easter, let's focus on what Jesus did by dying on the cross. He reconciled us to God, and He offers the message that racial reconciliation is not only possible; it's our calling as Christians.
This Easter, Pastor De'Andre Salter wants to show you the one thing you can do to take an active role in racial healing and bring unity through Christ. Visit EasterTogether.Life if you want to be a bridge builder and help desegregate Sunday mornings!