Why Talk About Race?

Because the Gospel Demands It

August 29/30, 2020


Go, make disciples of every nation (ethnos) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I’ve commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the word of God, but only to Jews. However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to the Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. The power of the Lord was with them, and a large number of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord. (Acts 11:19-21 NLT)

When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord. (Acts 11:22-24 NLT)

It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians. (Acts 11:26)

Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (Acts 11:25-26)

Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called “the black man”), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul. One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way. (Acts 13:1-3)

Christianity doesn’t have a home team, but in Christianity everybody can find a home!

I really understand now that to God every person is the same. (Acts 10:34 NCV)

Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said. (Acts 11:1-3 NLT)

But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. (Galatians 2:11-13 NLT)

The human heart is deceitful, and desperately sick. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

We all bear the image of God. God loves the whole world. You can’t love God and hate your brother. God values and redeems all ethnicities.

Peter was afraid of the criticism from these people. (Galatians 2:11 NLT)

I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message. (Galatians 2:14 NLT)

I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel. (Galatians 2:14 ESV)

We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16 ESV)

There will always come a time when your gospel beliefs have to get translated into gospel behavior.

The standard for a follower of Jesus is not “I didn’t make it worse”; but rather “What can I do in the power of the Holy Spirit to make things better?”

“How can I be better?”

“What do I not know?”

“What do I not see?”

“Am I humble enough to ask the questions to find out the answers?”

When was the last time you ate with someone of a different ethnicity? Describe how it went, where you ate, what you ate, what you talked about.

We have to read several chapters into the book of Acts (Acts 10) before we see the gospel shared with someone who wasn’t Jewish. Why do you think the early church had such a struggle with telling Gentiles about Jesus? How did that shape the early church’s racial relations?

In Acts 13, we read about the multiethnic leadership of the church in Antioch. We also witnessed the increasing diversity of Journey’s Elder Team as we watched the Elder ordination from Tuesday evening. What are some of the benefits of having a diverse leadership? How does that reinforce the gospel?

Pastor John said, there will always come a time when your gospel beliefs have to get translated into gospel behavior. Can you describe one such time in your life? Have you even been put in a position where what you say you believe gets tested by those who you know will criticize you, especially as it relates to race? Share what happened. What did you learn about yourself from that experience?

This week’s prayer: “Lord, may both my beliefs and my behavior, my convictions and my conduct, always stay in step with the truth of the gospel.”

Download as a PDF.