Francis Chan on Failure to Help the Poor Could Send You to Hell

Francis Chan on: From Every Tribe and Tongue

Or take racism. The Christian church in many ages and in many places has stood on the wrong side of this issue, and it’s damnable—literally. What’s racism got to do with hell, you may ask. According to Jesus, it’s got everything to do with it.

In Matthew 8, Jesus smuggles a warning about hell into the context of racism and ethnocentrism. The entire context of Matthew 8-9 depicts Jesus reversing all of the cultural and social assumptions of the Jews of that day. One assumption is that the Jews, as the “people of God,” are much more fit for the kingdom than all those other nasty sinners—those Gentiles, those Greeks, those Romans. But in Matthew 8, Jesus is absolutely floored by the faith of a Roman Gentile military leader. And Jesus accepted him as he was, as a Gentile. From this encounter, Jesus says that the “sons of the kingdom” who think that God values one ethnicity over another are damned to hell: “The sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 8:12 NASB)

Why is it that only 5.5 percent of American evangelical churches could be considered multiethnic (where no single ethnicity makes up more than 80 percent of its congregants)? [1] Why is that? Five and a half percent! And we’re supposed to be living in the melting pot, the place where hundreds of languages and colors often live within a few miles—or feet—of each other. Many people outside the church are far less racially divided. Consider the military, our places of work, or athletics. Yet there are three places where racial division still persists: bars, prisons, and the American evangelical church.

If we’re going to take Jesus’ words seriously, we have to make a more concerted effort to forge avenues of racial reconciliation and unity under the banner of the gospel of Christ.

Louie Giglio: I Came Back and So Can You

This article was excerpted from Erasing Hell, 2011 by Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle. Published by David C. Cook, www.davidccook.com. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

NOTES[1.] See Rodney Woo, The Color of Church: Biblical and Practical Paradigm for Multicultural Churches (Nashville: B & H Publishers, 2009); Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, Divide by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

[2.] Among the many books about Jesus and poverty, see Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997).
[3.] In the context, Jesus is talking about impoverished Christians, not any poor person. This is clear from Jesus’ description of the poor as “these brothers of Mine.” (25:40 NASB) In the book of Matthew, the term brother is used to describe Jesus’ literal brothers or his followers (Matt. 12:46–50). It’s never a general description of all people. But this doesn’t get the church off the hook. Many, if not most, of the 2 billion people living on less than two dollars a day are confessing Christians.
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Francis Chan
Francis Chan is a California-based pastor and author of many bestselling books including his newest, Letters to the Church (David C Cook, September 2018).

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