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Posted in: Current Events, Devotion, Restoration

06.11.20 ( Jeff Vines )

Pursuing Reconciliation

I am a middle-aged white Pastor, born in Tennessee, living in California by way of Zimbabwe and New Zealand. To many, the first part of that statement means I have nothing of value to offer on the subject of racism. Well, here is my offering anyway. Racism is not merely morally reprehensible, in other words SIN, but logically nonsensical. Race is determined by God and is a gift given by God. How can we devalue any gift given by God himself? This seems contradictory. Then again, ours is a nation and people of ultimate contradictions. We promote freedom of speech while silencing those with whom we disagree. We claim tolerance while censoring those who oppose our political and social views. We demand equality while discriminating against race, creed, color, or uniform. We are long past judging anyone by the content of his/her character. We rush to judgment immediately based on political persuasion, color, origin and state. 

First, I am a Christian and dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. I acknowledge that the black community has been discriminated against and is reeling from years of abuse. Have we made progress? Yes. Is it enough? No. It will never be enough until every man and woman is judged not by the color of his or her skin but by the content of their character.   

One of the reasons we changed the name of our church from “Christ’s Church of the Valley” to “ONE&ALL Church” is to communicate our calling and desire to reach all peoples and all nations for Christ. That means One Savior died for all people and therefore, one and all are welcomed into our midst to investigate the Gospel.  

Second, I respect and honor Policemen and Policewomen in general while acknowledging abuses of power in specific cases. A large percentage of the police force in this nation is African American and Hispanic. Here in Los Angeles, Blacks and Hispanics make up seventy percent of those who put their lives on the line “to protect and to serve.” Similar statistics appear in New York, Chicago and other major metropolitan areas . Defunding the police not only de-employs many minorities but eventually leads to anarchy, and, more often than not, the abuse and neglect of the very communities where policing is needed the most.  

I have lived around the world and I can promise you this: The most dangerous cities in the world are places where the police are underfunded. While living in Zimbabwe, my wife and I were being robbed late one evening. I immediately called the police. Their response? “If you will come pick us up from the police station, we will help you.” I quickly responded, “By the time I get there, this will all be over.”   

Third, as my Rwandan and South African friends have shown us, reconciliation is the only way forward. Shouting at each other breeds animosity but even worse, erects walls between us. What do you do when someone is shouting at you? Retreat. However, when two people created in the image of God sit across the table from one another and speak peacefully and respectfully, something special happens in the human heart. The Holy Book says,

"Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Hebrews 12:14-15  

Notice, without holiness, no one will see the Lord. Holiness has always possessed, as its primary feature, forgiveness and reconciliation. We hold nothing against our brother or sister because God, while we're still sinners, gave up what was most precious to Him so that He would not lose us. Jesus taught that when bitterness grows, the next generation is defiled. 

Please wake up America. Accusative, vitriolic language achieves no good end. You may feel better after you have published it, but the effects never achieve what you hope. Please try to stand strong on your beliefs while using language that resists vindication and seeks rather reconciliation.

Pastor Jeff

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About the Author
Pastor Jeff Vines is the Lead Pastor of ONE&ALL Church. He spent twenty years on the mission field (Zimbabwe, New Zealand) planting churches and training leaders. Jeff is the author of Dinner with SKEPTICS: Defending God in a World that Makes No Sense (2008, 2011) and Unbroken: 8 Enduring Promises God Will Keep (2012). Jeff and his wife, Robin, have been married over 30 years and enjoy life with their kids Delaney & Sian, their daughter-in-law Jessica and sweet grandchildren Ada, Owen, & Layla.

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