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The Race Card of the Early Church

What Does This Mean for Us Today?


If Jesus can bring Jew and Gentile together to form a new humanity, He can bring any group of races together.

But here’s a very important question for churches and pastors: Church, if we are racially divided (87 percent of churches in America are homogenous), how can we heal a racially divided country?

A multi-ethnic local church, fueled by the grace of Jesus, is the ultimate public testimony against racism (Galatians 2:11-21). In reality, a multi-ethnic local church is the future church in the present (Revelation 5:9). Only in close proximity to one another does grace replace racism.

So from God’s standpoint, you, dear Christian, are part of a new race of humanity. You are part of a “new species”—a new humanity (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; Ephesians 2:15).

In the eyes of God, the church is nothing more and nothing less than Jesus Christ on earth. It’s a new species that’s kin to divinity; a body to the Son and a family to the Father. Kind of His own kind.

It’s no wonder that the dominating image of the church throughout the New Testament is the family. “Brothers,” “sisters,” “mothers,” “fathers,” “new birth,” etc. populate the Epistles when speaking about the ekklesia of God.

In this hour of clenched fists, God is looking for local communities of His people … ekklesias of God … made up of Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Jew, Gentile, living out of their true identities as members of the new creation.

A people who will know one another, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

A microcosm of the kingdom of God, where all racial and ethnic divides are erased and Jesus Christ becomes our identity.

A model for this world to see what God’s image looks like in visible form.

A people who will provoke the universe to look with amazement and say, “Behold how they love one another.”

Political solutions will only go so far. Adjustments to our laws will always be limited. Nuances to the justice system won’t do enough.

While all of these things are good and we applaud them, they cannot remove racism from the hearts of fallen mortals.

Only Christ can. And His ekklesia can show it forth … visible, tangible, touchable, experiential.

This is the “race card” that the early Christians held in their hands. And it is the heritage of all of God’s people today.

The earth awaits such …  

DERWIN GRAY is the founding and Lead Pastor of Transformation Church. He is considered to be one of America’s leading voices on multi-ethnic, multi-generational, missional ministry. In their first two years of existence, Transformation Church was recognized as one of the top 100 fastest-growing churches in America by Outreach Magazine (2nd on the list by percentage for 2010). Derwin played for six seasons in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts (1993-1997) and the Carolina Panthers (1998) and is recognized by many as the “Evangelism Linebacker.” He is also the author of the forthcoming book, Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future (September 3, 2013). Learn more about Derwin at www.derwinlgray.com

FRANK VIOLA is the author of numerous books on the deeper Christian life. He and his coworkers have founded and work with organic missional communities that are multi-ethnic and rooted in the New Covenant reality of the centrality of Christ, God’s eternal purpose, and the one new humanity. Frank’s latest book, God’s Favorite Place on Earth, is a biblical narrative told from the viewpoint of Lazarus many years after Jesus raised him from the dead. It provides a compelling vision for every Christian and every church. You can visit Frank’s blog at frankviola.org

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