Marvin Williams: "Submitting Our Biases to Lord Jesus"By Andrew Kischner on March 30, 2018
Editor's Note: Over the next two weeks, we are featuring several messages from Cornerstone University's undergrad chapel, which engage the topics of justice, race, reconciliation and love (listen to all CU chapel messages here). Today's message is by Marvin Williams, lead pastor at Trinity Church, Lansing, Mich. With each message, we've provided a "Talking Points Takeaway" as a point of reflection as we prepare for the April 26 Talking Points conference on Justice + Unity: Toward the Healing of a Fractured Church. Register today to attend the conference.
Talking Points Takeaway: People are not working toward justice and unity because they do not believe their discipleship relates to issues of racial discrimination and bias.
Marvin Williams has worked in several multi-racial contexts, and he has noticed that most Christians are not willing to submit their discrimination and biases to the rule and reign of Jesus. We as the Church do not allow Jesus to address us when it comes to this issue. But Williams explains that our biases do affect the way we interact with one another; it colors our relationships.
But, he goes on to say, racial discrimination and bias are irrational in view of what God has said. It is irrational for three reasons.
Discrimination and bias are irrational because God has made people of every ethnic background, and he has put the stamp of his image on every human. So, we are all representatives of God. Not only this, but we also come from the same human source, one man and one woman. So, if we treat people as less than the image of God, then our problem is not simply with another person but also with God who created them. Acts 17:26 states exactly this: "And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place."
Discrimination and bias are irrational because we cannot love God without having love for our brother and sister. It is impossible to hate people of different ethnicities or races and say we love God. John 4:20 speaks to this: "If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."
Furthermore, we might add, it is impossible to love others while simultaneously ignoring their practical needs. We don't even need hate to fall short here. James 2:15-17 speaks to this and connects it directly to faith: "Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." Loving God, loving others and living out our faith in Christ demands that we not only not hate but also actively love those in need.
Discrimination and bias are irrational because God's family in heaven will include people of all ethnic backgrounds. There will be a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic, multi-ethnic heaven. Revelation 7:9 says: "After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…"
Williams challenges us: "We can start bringing the rule and reign of God—which we will celebrate forever—to earth right now." But, he notes, we have work to do and we must be willing to change. Do we have the courage to confront our racial bias and submit it to the rule and reign of Christ?
Listen to the whole sermon here.