hope for churches in stress

Prophetic Witness

The Kingdom of God as dreamt by Isaiah, as revealed to John, and as preached by Jesus, is a kingdom of every nation, every tribe, and every tongue. An essential aspect of the Church’s life and witness is to make this kingdom possible on earth, as it is in heaven.

Millennials who comprise the largest population group in America are arguably the first generation where racial diversity is not seen as a threat. This is not to say that millennials are immune to the smog of racism. Still, they are the most racially diverse generation in American history, so far.

Sadly, this hopeful development is not yet visible in the Church. More than eight in ten congregations in America are still comprised of one predominant racial group. So there is much work to be done. As followers of Jesus, we must accept our call to live out a prophetic witness to his coming kingdom in everyday life and in the life of our local congregations.

To do so, we can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the character, motives, and desires of God. When our hearts break for the things that break God’s heart, we can live and love like Christ lived and loved.

We can take action in practical ways: we can refuse racist or stereotypical comments and, instead, inject constructive perspectives into hard conversations; we can listen to marginalized people and build relationships with people of color; we can advocate for, and invest in, people of color in our workplaces, churches, and communities.

We can honestly acknowledge how far the Church in America needs to go to realize the biblical vision of all races “being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). Then, without resignation or discouragement, we can press toward the fulfillment of this vision.

One stride at a time, we can persist in this marathon toward the goal of seeing our Father’s kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven, realized in churches comprised of people of every nation, tribe, and tongue.

Hank Johnson is senior pastor of Harrisburg Brethren in Christ Church, a diverse, urban church of Christ-followers actively sharing Christ’s love and serving the needs of their local community and global neighbors. This is the second of three posts by Hank Johnson. To go to the third post, click on "Rivers of Tears."

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Barnabas Initiatives is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Donors are invited to contribute. Client churches are asked to reimburse expenses, but are not assessed a fee for service. Instead, as they are able, churches are asked to consider a per diem or customized contribution. 

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