Christians of Color: Can You See the Stars?

Duke Kwon

Dear Christians of color,

This is your time.

In many respects, the problems of racism and interracial dysfunctionality in America appear more intractable than ever. And yet, there also appears to be, in the Church, an unprecedented opportunity for growth and change. As Prof. Theon Hill recently wrote, “More and more Christians realize that in order to do something, we cannot avoid these discussions or remain silent as society around us grapples with such an imbedded issue.”

And to make the most of this opportunity, we need you to stand up, speak up, and lift up your end of the banner of gospel reconciliation and peace.

I know you’re tired. Especially after a week like last week. You’re doubled over in discouragement, maybe even despair. And it’s true that in many respects the onus is on our dear White brothers and sisters, who at a time like this need to lead in repentance, listening, and the endeavor to establish equity and cross-cultural hospitality in our neighborhoods and churches. (And many have begun to do so. Amen.) Yes, they have an important, irreplaceable responsibility in this kingdom project.

And so do you.

You know that popular passage about “racial reconciliation” in Ephesians 2? One of its most overlooked features is this: Those words were originally written to ethnic minorities — Gentiles in the predominantly Jewish covenant community throughout redemptive history.

These were people who had been subject to racial hostility (v. 16), denigrated by slurs (v. 11), and excluded from religious privilege (v. 12). It was to such as these that the Apostle offered those timeless words of exhortation (vv. 19-22): You are citizens, not foreigners. Don’t let anyone treat you—don’t treat yourself—like strangers.  Stop acting like outsiders. You are a member of this covenant family. You see, Jesus destroyed that “dividing wall of hostility.” Jesus died for you.

And the same goes for you, dear Minority Christians. Seize your covenant privilege. This Church belongs to you. Don’t sideline yourself. Take hold of your kingdom citizenship, and the promise of unmitigated inclusion that is yours by right of covenant.

Reject the internalized racism of diminished expectations for the Church’s members of color. Respectfully insist (humbly demand?) that you be treated as a peer—more than that, as a full-fledged member of Christ’s family. Because that is what you are.

You might need some space right now. I get it. Maybe a moment to catch your breath, to cry, to scream, to take a break. But then, please rise up. Let the grace of Christ strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees with the power of the resurrection (Heb. 12:12). And stand. To share your story. (Your sisters are listening.) To speak of your wounds. (Your brothers are weeping.) To seek justice. (Your church is learning.) To insist on spurring on growth and change. (Your family seems willing.) You won’t be alone.

Because the Church needs us for such a time as this, this potential “racial turning point” in the history of American Christianity. Not just for her health, but her wholeness and holiness, her gospel maturation out of grotesque, unreconciled malformation (Eph. 2:14-15; 4:15-16).

You’re not so sure, I know. You don’t love what you see out there. But, as Prof. Hill quotes Dr. King: “Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”

Dear Christians of color, I know you see the dark.

Can you see the stars?

5 thoughts on “Christians of Color: Can You See the Stars?

  1. Mitch Allman

    Dear Richard, I can’t express this as well as is like but I’ll do my best. I free with your assessment of slavery for the most part but I think the part might not be so apparent is that for Black Americans, the general topic of slavery is more personal than for most others in this country. There are many things to city but the simple fact that we are here on US soil is enough testament to this fact. So the ‘myopic’ view as you call it is something very different for those who hold the view. My comments here aren’t intended to slice anything, only to highlight how one issue can be seen through two completely different lenses depending on each persons vantage point, association, etc.

  2. Dave Evans

    I am not quite sure of what it is that you recommend for the Black christian in a white church or for the Black christian in the Black church.

    Are we to go to the pastor and speak on these issues (and if we assume he is already ignoring them), or are we to speak to other white christians (and if we assume he is already ignoring them?) Its tough to imagine our white brothers are unaware…

    So, what is it that you are suggesting?


  3. Richard E Knodel, Jr.

    At the risk of inciting a riot … Could I make a modest proposal? Involving two long-overdue things Afro-Americans would do well to consider:

    1) Slavery and the slave-phenomenon are historically universal — not particular to any one culture like America. To deny the universality of slavery — across the societal board — denies the historical record and prejudices the modern discussion. Could our public schools POSSIBLY begin to teach this???

    To myopically focus solely on the sinful American variety only serves the purposes of those like Islam who still have not repudiated this practice — and are using such canards to reintroduce slavery today!

    If we’re REALLY against slavery, why not focus on its greatest threat TODAY, instead of cases from 170 years ago! If we can’t do that, it reveals not only our dishonesty, but our malignant intent to misuse history for tribalistic purposes. We don’t really hate slavery, but only a new group upon which we have slave designs (i.e., White America, this time)!

    2) Slavery is a function of the universal FALL/SIN of mankind, and not some unique American ethical failing. It’s “THEOLOGY” more than sociology! Unless we recognize the prior spiritual fault, we necessarily misunderstand racism and deny ourselves the chance to really fight it.

    Racism arises from the idolatrous hearts of God-haters. (Romans 8:7) Because they hate God, they fall into hating those who have been created “in his image.”

    Missing this insight, moderns have re-written the 10-Commandments to now feature contemporary American “Slavery,” LGBT Issues, Abortion, Statism/Ceasarism and Poly-theism/Philosophical Pluralism (toleration of all gods) as their novel hierarchy of values. Yet some of these have typically been considered sins themselves in past lifetimes!

    Are we playing wicked sociological / culturological games, or are we really concerned with goodness, reconciliation and peace?

    These two issues (above) would prove much more fruitful than endless attempts to each find our secret, latent racist leanings. The “wrong-way” glosses over the majority of our real sins for the sake of someone else’s imaginations/fixations.

    People are failed, hateful human beings, who desperately need Jesus Christ, and who are apt to use any reason whatsoever to abuse each other. (Romans 3:10-18) Is this not the most fruitful place for the start of a real healing discussion?

  4. Joy

    This is provided much consolation for me this morning. Thank you.

  5. Conrad Deitrick

    Wow, Amen

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