On Racism, Pentecost, and a Way Forward
What happened to George Floyd was a terrible wrong. It was evil. We are sickened to think that George Floyd, a brother in Christ, who was a model in his home city to other young men, has had his life taken so tragically and needlessly. The protests are important, and peaceful protests are part of our constitutional rights.
One hundred and sixteen years ago the Church was visited by a new Pentecost. Led by the son of former slaves, this movement became a powerful force within Christianity. Jesus had once again come to a stable (the mission had been used as a stable previously). Black and white and many other ethnic groups came together, and it was said the color line was washed away in the blood line of Jesus Christ. We believe God wanted the Church in America to bring healing to the wounds of slavery and racism – to lead our country out of its shameful past of slavery and racism. Despite the Jim Crow laws of segregation, that Pentecostal Mission was offering another way to a better society, a more just and humane society. It was the Church’s opportunity to provide an answer to one of the most powerful societal evils (and from a religious perspective societal and personal sins) – racism and the exploitation of the poor. Sadly, that Pentecost Revival of 1906, like the first Pentecost of 30 A.D., would eventually be replaced by the powerful pull of ethnic pride, leading to so much death, poverty, and a continued exploitation of the poor and marginalized. We believe this deception is more than the influence of a demon, but rather is the work of what Paul called the “powers” and “principalities,” a much more powerful source of evil that works primarily through false ideologies, pride, superiority feelings, that in time creates hatred. Out of this comes tribalism, racism, and forms of nationalism such as Nazism, Fascism, and Communism, which are all rooted in the philosophy of demons, the deceptive teaching that we have the right to suppress, oppress, exploit, and even kill those who do not look like us, talk like us, think like us, and worship like us.
This past Pentecost, May 31, 2020, at least two things were happening simultaneously: one, a prophetic voice of people crying out for justice in protests, and the other, people looting and destroying the property that others had spent a lifetime trying to build in their businesses. One based upon a biblical principle of Jesus and the prophets calling for justice and righteousness; the other based upon the “spirit” that comes from the devil intent on killing, stealing, and destroying. For those who have eyes to see, can you see the enemy trying to take the attention off the issue of justice and righteousness by turning it to destruction? Let us return to the intention of God at Pentecost, which was to bring about love, respect, and unity. When Holy Spirit fell on Pentecost, He broke down walls of separation and brought unity. God erased distinctions as the fire of the Spirit brought power. No longer was there a division between peoples, as God in Christ had created “one new man” from the previous division.
In Galatians 3, Paul further explained this new reality: “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.”
This is part of what we cry out for when we pray, “let Your kingdom come, let Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” May we hunger and thirst for right-ness to come. May we fight — and fight hard — to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. May we remember that it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance, to a change of thinking.
Let Your kingdom come. Lift up the helpless. Humble the haughty. Let Your will be done. Unify your people. Let them know us by our love, our peace, our unity. As it is in heaven, so be it on earth. Awaken this world to who You are and make us coins in Your pocket, to be spent however You wish.