February is Black History Month (BHM). This is an annual celebration of the lives and achievements of African-Americans who have shaped the course of American history. Therefore, BHM compels us to look at America through critical lenses in order to appreciate the contributions of other cultural groups (Hispanic, Asian, Native, etc.) who have left their marks on this social experiment we call America.
The American church has had to wrestle with its own conscience in matters of race and culture. Vestiges of racial hostility and labeling still permeate many of our religious symbols and activities. So, for example, we still speak of a “black church” as if to acknowledge our need (and perhaps our desire) to view God in our own racial images. Some deny white privilege as part and parcel of our Christian experience, but they continue to benefit from its presence. BHM is a reminder that all is not well.
The challenge to the church is captured in the Apostle Paul’s admonition that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile … for you are all one in Christ” (Gal 3:28). This was not meant to be a denial of our difference ethnic and racial backgrounds but a warning not to build the body of Christ on cultural foundations at the exclusion of others.