Note: Our community is walking through a 4-week series entitled gRace: A Reckoning and Reconciliation. Four ministers from Los Angeles—Black, Asian, Latino, white—come to God’s Word and Gospel for repentance, mutual learning, and hope in the Gospel of Jesus.
It is not surprising for a minister to pontificate about how Jesus is the answer to everything. It would be especially tone-deaf for a white minister to glibly and easily suggest that having faith in Jesus would solve all racism. That’ll get you cancelled. Or eye-rolled. Or tongue-clicked.
What might surprise you is that many Christian black writers, thinkers, pastors, and artists are proposing something radically different than reparations to end direct and systemic racism. In many ways, they stand in contradiction to their non-believing black brothers and sisters. They are proposing a vigorous re-discovery of justification by faith as a real-world approach to ending the thing we all say we hate.
Christ-following rapper, writer, artist, poet and black man, Shai Linne:
“Justification by faith is the key to eliminating racism.”
Why does he say that?
Because all of us will justify ourselves somewhere. All of us will appeal to something to make us worthwhile, loveable, huggable, notable, important…superior. We may not point to skin pigment as the thing that sets us apart from the shlubs around us, but we’ll cobble together dozens of other superficial markers: positions, achievements, friends, zip code, wealth (lack of or greatness), life-decisions, moral aptitude, what we watch, what we say, how much we serve, blah, blah blah. All of us use something to justify our awesomeness. And if it’s not Jesus, then we look to find markers that demean others while lifting ourselves. We all use the same LEGO pieces of the racist to build a self-justifying edifice.
Shai Linne gets it. When we are convinced of Jesus’s work for us, we don’t need our shallow external variables to justify ourselves. When we know that we are treasured sons and daughters of the Most High, we don’t need to find pathetic accolades to lift us above our fellow man. When we are justified by Him, we don’t need to elevate ourselves over anyone.
As I peek into the future that Revelation offers, I find it interesting, and thrilling to hear that all the assembled tribes, cultures, ethnicities, races, and strange-sounding languages are saying the same thing: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7). They are screaming, singing, and chanting one thing—justification through Jesus, not themselves.