God is the angriest Person in the Bible.
He hates sin. But we see the glory of the gospel in that God who is angriest Person in the universe is simultaneously the most loving Person in the universe because the cross is the place where His wrath and His love come together.
Reconciliation with God
Think about Star Wars (or any other superhero storyline). It would be ridiculous to think of Luke Skywalker or Han Solo sacrificing their life so the evil Emperor could live. Why would they do such a thing for their enemy?
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly...but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Rom. 5:6, 8
Ungodly (v. 6). Sinners (v. 8). Enemies (v. 10). This is how Romans 5 describes humanity. We are God’s enemies. Yet God sent His Son Jesus to die, so His enemies could live. God did this because He loves His enemies! He loves us! This is the gospel!
We deserve God’s anger because we have rebelled against Him. We deserve judgment because we are sinners (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). We do not deserve to be pardoned. But this is what happens when we trust in Christ for salvation. Our guilt is credited to Christ, and God credits His righteousness to us.
The gospel is race-transcending good news for every person. All have sinned (Rom. 3:10), and God offers hope and salvation to all people.
“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Rom. 10:13).
Equal in Worth and Value
Racism, prejudice, hatred - unfortunately, these are not new issues. Believers in the early church dealt with such problems as well. In Acts, we see the Jews having to process the fact that Gentiles were coming to faith (Acts 10-11; 15). Division among racial lines was a problem in the early church (Gal. 2:11-14), which is why Paul often reiterated the equality of the Jews and the Gentiles in his letter to the churches.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” - Gal. 3:28
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.” -Rom. 10:12
One race is not better than the other. There are no second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God. Each person is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), so each person reflects God in a unique way - black, white, brown, etc. God enjoys diversity. As the Creator, He’s the One Who made diversity and difference in skin color possible in the first place.
Reconciliation with Each Other
In Ephesians, Paul lays out how Jesus made it possible for Jews and Gentiles to be saved, and he shows how the gospel not only changes our relationship with God but also changes our relationships with other people.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” -Eph. 2:14-16
Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Jews and Gentiles were separate. Believing Gentiles could only enter the outer court of the Temple while Jews could continue on into an inner court. Plus, the Jews observed dietary laws and social customs (such as circumcision) that distinguished them from the Gentiles and served as a barrier. But no more! In Christ, all of those differences and barriers went away.
Jesus abolished the “dividing wall of hostility” and has made us one in Him. This is why there is no place for racism among Christians. God calls us to be unified, not divided. How can we accept God's love and forgiveness yet refuse to extend love and forgiveness towards others? To do so shows a lack of understanding of the gospel (Matt. 18:21-35).
It’s not that we ignore our differences. We don’t have to be “color-blind.” Instead, we embrace our cultures and racial differences because God has created us all uniquely. Our differences point us back to the creativity of our Maker.
Are their challenges? Yes. Do our differences often lead to misconceptions and misunderstandings? Yes. Unity takes work. We all think differently and have different background experiences. Plus, we’re all sinful.
But we are called to love, not hate. As Christians, we are supposed to be known for our love (Jn. 13:34-35), so if we have any hatred, anger, prejudice, racism, sexism, resentment, bitterness, etc. in us, then we need to confess it. We need to ask God to work in our hearts to change us. And we need to renew our minds and change the way we think about the person or people we have despised.
Heaven is More Diverse than Our Wal-mart
If I want to see the nations here in Birmingham, I can either go to our church’s preschool hall on Sunday mornings, or I can go to the Wal-mart near the church. But even better than either of these options is what we will experience in Heaven, for Revelation 7:9-10 presents a picture of people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” standing before God’s throne worshipping the Lord.
The Church united in worship. No racism there. No hatred there. No sin there. As the old hymn says, "the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
Obviously, politics and laws do not change people’s hearts, which is why we are a nation still divided this long after Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Act. What we all need - what our nation needs right now - is the gospel. Only the gospel gives us a reason to love and to forgive. And only the gospel can change hearts.
If you want to hear more, we highly recommend Pastor Matt's sermon from this past Sunday on "Hope Amid Chaos."