Recently, I was struck by the benediction of Romans 15:5-6:
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These words are being spoken to a multi-ethnic church in Rome, comprised of both Jews and Gentiles. Hints abound throughout the letter that there currently is disharmony between the two groups; both sides seem to have a sense of superiority towards the other and are impatient with the others’ faults. Paul here reminds them of why this must change: Jesus is the great reconciler between peoples (see Eph 2:11-22), and as we come to have one harmonious voice in praising God, God is glorified. For this reason, Paul follows his blessing with a challenge: “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
In our churches today we continue to be tasked with glorifying God by welcoming those who are different from us. Tragically, the track record of the evangelical church in America has not been good in this regard. During the Civil Rights movement, most conservative white churches in the South were either passive regarding racial justice or actually aiding in the efforts to maintain segregation between blacks and whites. A few notable exceptions notwithstanding, our denomination, the PCA, shares in this shameful past.
And so I am grateful for the steps taken last week at our denomination’s General Assembly. By an overwhelming majority, leaders of the PCA supported an overture that confesses and repents of our corporate participation in racism. As part of this repentance, a fund has been established to help raise up future minority leaders, a study team has been commissioned to consider further steps we should take towards racial reconciliation, and presbyteries and local churches have been challenged to consider what repentance looks like in our particular context.
Which leaves us at Trinity Hinsdale and Trinity Palos with an important question: what does it look like for us to welcome one another—from all races and economic groups—as Christ has welcomed us? What does it look like for you? May God be glorified in how we choose to answer.