Statement about the Sin of Racism from Pastor Kirk:

When we see racism on such public display as in the death of George Floyd it gives us an opportunity for repentance – not merely calling for someone else to repent, not merely calling our nation to repent, but for our own personal repentance.   Racial conflict in our nation calls for every Christian to introspection.  “It is time for judgment to begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). “Righteous indignation” without self-reflection and repentance is meaningless, or worse, hypocrisy.  

While our church body (LC-MS) has had for decades a formal statement condemning the sin of racism,  I thought it would be helpful to summarize this Biblical teaching in a succinct way with statements from the document and providing a link to the scholarly, exhaustive document and then some of my own thoughts.

  • Discriminatory treatment of human beings on the basis of race is irrational evil and results in evil (James 2:8-9).
  • God’s Word rejects racism (Ephesians 2:13-16).
  • Jesus Himself bids us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31) and did so precisely while rejecting racial preference (Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37).
  • Racism is not acceptable in the church (Ephesians 4:1-6).
  • We must pray, but we must do even more.  We shall follow the ancient mandate of the prophet of Yahweh: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).

Link to Commission on Theology and Church Relations –  Racism and the Church https://files.lcms.org/wl/?id=2ZSjBpgjY39Eo1lH1vqCgI79YUGmfrve

As important and necessary as formal written statements of belief are, they are not enough.  Scriptural beliefs must be lived out and acted upon (Matthew 7:20).  As the people of Hope Lutheran Church we believe that the Gospel, namely, that Jesus Christ, through His death and resurrection was reconciling sinners to God and has given us the ministry of reconciliation to all (2 Corinthians 5:18).  The struggle for racial reconciliation began in the heart of God and it continues in the life of God’s people.  We are committed to enter in to the struggle, with all of its pain and anger and hurt, seeking to learn, understand, grow and bring about justice and equality.  But we enter in to the struggle with something the world lacks: the power and hope and love of Christ.  

So what do we do? I certainly don’t have all the answers but I am praying about what we can do as a church and how I can lead our congregation through awareness, education, listening to and learning from black brothers and sisters in Christ in our congregation.  What steps can we take to become more racially sensitive and diverse as a church?   I’m also praying about what I can do individually.  One thing is to read part of a commitment card that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave to people who wanted to be a part of a movement of justice and love. People who wanted to be part of his movement would just commit to doing these things:

  1. Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
  2. Remember always that we seek justice and reconciliation, not victory.
  3. Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
  4. Pray daily to be used by God in order that all people might be free.
  5. Sacrifice personal wishes in order that all people might be free.
  6. Observe, with both foe and friend, the ordinary rules of courtesy.
  7. Seek to perform regular service for others and for the world.
  8. Refrain from violence of fist, tongue, or heart.

Then there was a place for people to say: “I sign this pledge, having seriously considered what I do, with the determination and the will to persevere.”   I now have this card hanging above my desk so that by God’s grace I can make the same commitment.