Deep reconciliation will produce justice and new relationships between races. Yes, this will lead Christians to become a bright light in the public square. But I have becoming convinced that God is not very interested in the church healing the race problem. I believe it is more true that God is using race to heal the church.
Many people are familiar with Paul’s “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13. Have you ever wondered why that chapter is between chapters 12 and 14; that speak about the use and nature of spiritual gifts within the local church? Paul wrote chapter thirteen to show his readers a more excellent way to be one in the church for the sake of the Gospel. We are to manifest and model authentic love for one another in and through the local church beyond race or class distinction (compare 1 Corinthians 13:13 with 1 Corinthians 12:12-13).
Loving one another beyond distinctions is the most powerful way to express the reality, presence, and blessing of God’s love before a lost and dying world. Paul wants us to understand that the way of love is much more than a feeling. It’s a path to follow; a mindset for the church to embrace (1 Corinthians 14:1). Indeed we are to express genuine love for every member of the body, even those who seem ‘unpresentable’ to us (1 Corinthians 12:23) or at times stretch us beyond the limits of our own personalities and preferences.
1 Corinthians 12-14 virtually mirrors Ephesians 3-4, a passage in which the Apostle Paul urges members of the church at Ephesus (another of the New Testament’s multi-ethnic churches) “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Ephesians 4:1-3).