Celebrating Black History Month
Black History month is set aside to remember and recognize people of color: those who have contributed much to society, but may not have received due credit. This month is an annual reminder that as a society, we have not always lived up to “liberty and justice for all.”
For Christians, this is a call to remember Acts 17:26, that God “made from one man every nation of mankind,” and that through the blood of Christ, we are part of a Body of believers “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
In 2021, with racial tensions so high, Black History Month is an essential reminder not to go backwards. This month presents a unique opportunity for us to remember and reflect on the contributions African Americans have made and continue to make in our society. We are encouraged to do more research, ask more questions, and listen more. It gives the Church an opportunity to build unity, in light of the gospel in reference to our current situation racially in America.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in his letter to clergy from the Birmingham jail, “...the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.” This is what we, as a church, are called to do with this issue: to understand how the gospel breaks down racial and cultural walls. We cannot continue to ignore how people of color are treated or how they feel.
Church, the conversation starts with us. We do this to bring light to the racial issues within our country by understanding the nuance and complexity of these issues as we promote grace, understanding, and empathy. A church that burdens for our brothers and sisters, by understanding that this isn’t a social issue, but a gospel issue. We recognize that it is a tough issue to face, yet Black History Month reminds us to keep pushing forward. We do this so we can share the greatest story ever told, the story of Jesus and how He died a criminal's death on a cross so that we could experience fullness through Him. We rob ourselves of telling the story of Jesus by allowing our own pride to get in our way of meeting people where they are.
As we celebrate Black History Month and deal with racial issues in our society, we must embrace the cultural differences between black and white. David Mathis, from Desiring God, writes, “For Christians, the specific stories of pain and triumph in black history ripen as our roots grow deeper into biblical thought, and into the mind of Christ, and we mature in appreciating the beauty of various ethnicities and ethnic harmony. We rally to the vision of Psalm 96:3-4: 'Declare Him above the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.'"
Richmond is a city that, historically, is divided by race. It is, after all, the confederate capital. But it is so much more. It is a place of diversity, unity, and a place where my kids may grow up. We have an opportunity to bridge the gap, diversify our churches, and be a part of the ministry of reconciliation.
Derwin Gray, of Transformation Church, describes it this way: “How can we say Jesus loves everyone when our churches choose to create ministry models that ensure they will remain homogeneous? ... Our unity is a witness to the fact that God the Father sent Jesus to rescue the world and that God the Father loves us the way he loved Jesus.”
Let’s be the church God calls us to be. One that helps heal the separation and brokenness created by sin, while we seek to restore communion between God and people.
Black History month is for all of us. Let us embrace it.
Khiry Cooper, Author
Director of Community Programs + Memberships
Khiry is a Christ-follower, husband, and soon-to-be father of two boys. As our Director of Community Programs + Memberships, Khiry is always in search of ways to enhance and enrich our UTurn Community. In his spare time, he loves to travel, spend time with family, and discuss all-things Louisiana.