Last Sunday (March 26, 2017), I preached a message at Trailhead Church in Edwardsville, IL, called Sanctified Diversity, looking at Paul's rebuke of Peter for not "keeping in step with the truth of the gospel." The clear implication of this passage is that it's not enough to only know the truth as a follower of Jesus. You must also lean in and learn to live out its implications in the difficult spaces of life.
There are few areas that our culture needs us to lean in with gospel grace, humility, and empathy more than in the area of racial and cultural diversity. It's just not optional. We can be orthodox in our words and heretics with our lives, undermining the integrity of the message of the gospel because we are not walking in its power. To be true to the gospel, we need to do more than just believe its truths. We need to walk out their applications in our lives.
My sermon was called Sanctified Diversity. You can follow that link to listen to it on Trailhead Church's website or you can get the podcast on iTunes.
My final point in the sermon was that "Not engaging is not an option" and I promised I would post a blog with a few links to resources I have found helpful as a learner about our racial history and the dynamics of the racial tension around us today. I am far from an expert in this area, so this list will be far from exhaustive. I plan to update it as I continue to discover great stuff that I would recommend others read or watch or listen to. Feel free to comment with other links or resources you would recommend (comments are being moderated and abusive responses will be deleted).
It is my prayer that we as believers would learn how to lead the way in these difficult conversations.
The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross
This six episode PBS series is phenomenal as a beginning primer to the history of African Americans from the 1500's to the present day. The series is engaging to both the heart and the mind. And while it covers some of the saddest and most brutal aspects of our history, the series is able to stay hopeful, telling stories not just of suffering and loss, but triumph and courage. My only complaint about this series is that it moves so quickly. But it gave me many new things to dig into and learn about.
Length: 6 hour-long episodes
$11 for digital rights on Amazon
The Acts 29 Global Gathering 2016 Panel Discussion on Racial Reconciliation
This hour and twenty minute video is deeply moving and truly enlightening. Four African American pastors shared humbly and honestly with us what their experiences have been like as black Americans. I was honored by their transparency and moved by their stories. They gave us a real gift in opening up to us: the opportunity to empathize with their experience and see the world a little bit more from their perspective.
This panel discussion took place at the Acts 29 summer retreat the week after Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were shot and killed by police officers. The panel discussion is not about those shootings, but the conversation is definitely informed by those recent events (and I would recommend that you read about them before listening to the panel discussion if you are unfamiliar with them).
Length: An hour and twenty minutes
Free to stream on the Acts 29 Website
#Justice: A Sermon by Pastor Leonce Crump Jr.
Pastor Crump sounds a clear and prophetic call for Christians to take justice (and equity) seriously in regard to race relations in the US. I have appreciated and benefitted from Pastor Crump's clarity and boldness dealing with issues like white privilege and systemic racial injustice. He is theologically driven and sociologically insightful and full of gospel grace. This sermon, delivered in July 2016, is powerful.
Length: 48 minutes
Free to stream on Renovation Church's website
Re-education on Race: Pastor Bill Riedel's Blog on Book Recommendations and Reviews
Pastor Riedel is, like me, a white pastor seeking to grow in his understanding of the black experience in America. He set a goal in his blog of reading eight books dealing with race and racism over four months. This book list is a great place to start reading. His reading plan would be way too aggressive for a slow reader like me, but I have found the books on his list repeated on many others. I have started working my way through these books myself and find Pastor Riedel's book responses helpful to my own processing.
"Is Black Lives Matter the New Civil Rights Movement" - an address by Dr. Mika Edmondson's to the Gospel Coalition
From TGC's description: Mika Edmondson delivered this talk in May 2016 to Council members of The Gospel Coalition as they gathered for three days of prayer and discussion on the campus of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. TGC’s Council meets every year to challenge and encourage one another in a private setting by sharing prayer requests and engaging with especially sensitive and urgent issues facing the church. In that spirit the Council invited Dr. Edmondson to help them consider how God is working for justice and mercy in our racially charged and polarized society. (See also Albert Mohler’s response, “Ugly Stain, Beautiful Hope: My Response to Mika Edmondson.”)
I recommend both listening to Dr. Edmondson's message and reading Dr. Mohler's response.
Length: 46 Minutes (Transcript on blog page)
Free to stream on TGC's blog
As I come across new material, I will post it here. But this is a good starting point. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ free each of us into the joyful strength of humility and the humanizing integrity of empathy as we learn together.