'Following God's Heart for Reconciliation' - Southwestern Seminary
March, 2010Southwestern Seminary celebrated Black Heritage Day, Feb. 18, featuring Paul Hoskins, assistant professor of New Testament, who urged the seminary family to recognize and follow the biblical mandate for racial reconciliation.
"Because of the segregation of the church," Hoskins said, "we are often not equipping our church people to reach people who look different than themselves-because they're not experiencing that at church, and we're not equipping them at church to be the cross-cultural missionaries to their communities that they could be."
Hoskins noted that communities where most people live contain diversity of people: "When I go to Wal-Mart, I think, 'Everybody's here!'" In the church, however, Hoskins has noticed a racial uniformity that is inconsistent with God's plan for the church. For example, in 2006, only 7 percent of the churches in the United States had any "significant diversity" where at least 20 percent of the church's membership consisted of people of different groups than the majority.
The church should reflect the racial diversity of society, Hoskins said. In fact, God desires churches to be open to all races. "With God, they are all welcome," he said. "God is not into segregation."
Looking at Acts 10, he read how God called the Apostle Peter to cross racial boundaries and go to the home of Cornelius, a non-Jew, with the Gospel message. Peter recognized the division between Jews and Gentiles, and he recognized the barriers that prevented reconciliation.
In the same way, believers should recognize the problem of racial segregation in modern churches and face the barriers to healing. Turning a blind eye to race is not the correct response: "You have to work against the cultural tendencies on this one. ... You have to be convinced that God wants us to overcome the barriers," Hoskins said.
"God has given to us the message of reconciliation," he added. "We have been reconciled to Jesus Christ through the cross, and Ephesians 2 makes it very clear that all who have been reconciled to Jesus Christ through the cross-we now share a special unity, don't we? We are a part of the body of Christ. And the body of Christ is not a segregated place.
"We have the theology of reconciliation, we have the theology of unity, and we have the power of God. Given all of this, why are our churches so segregated?"
Hoskins urged his audience to pray, since God alone can heal the racial segregation in the church. He asked that they pray for leaders who understand and are willing to face this issue, but he also asked them to pray that God would open their own hearts.
"I would encourage you to think about the fact that God desires His church to be a church for all people," Hoskins said. "There is no favoritism with God and all people are welcome to him."
To watch, download or listen to Hoskins' sermon, visit http://www.swbts.edu/chapel/chapel_archive.cfm.
Benjamin Hawkins is a news writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).
Photos can be downloaded at http://www.swbts.edu/campusnews/story.cfm?id=21269CC5-15C5-E47C-F9715505019B415A.
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