Black History Month 2020

Depending on who you speak to, October can mean different things to different people but for many black people in the UK, October’s significance is marked by Black History Month – a time for folks to come together and hopefully learn lessons for the present and the future; to commemorate and celebrate black history and the contributions of black people in the UK and around the world. It’s also a time to honour the commitment to learning and standing together against the sin of racism. 


A key theme of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth was unity. The church had become deeply divided and Paul’s letter urged members of the body of Christ to consider their oneness, to be unified and to give themselves fully to “the work of the Lord.” (15:58). Considering our oneness and being unified requires us to be sensitive to the pain of others and injustices around us, furthermore, as verse 22-23 states, we should bestow greater honour on those who are weaker, less presentable or less honourable. For many of us, seeing a brother or sister who is ‘weaker, less presentable or less honourable’ is not always obvious, which is why we need the Holy Spirit’s help and discernment. 


“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it’s never been a barrier in your life. Black people don’t always have that choice.” 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah


Just because you have not seen or experienced racism doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Racism is sin and heresy because 1) it’s a form of idolatry, 2) it violates the Imago Dei (we are all made in the image of God), 3) it denies the Communion of Saints, and 4) it transgresses the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 8th, and 9th commandments, which are summarised in the two great commandments to love God and love your neighbour. (Duke Kwon) 


If we are to effectively reach our neighbourhoods, our cities and our world for Jesus we need to accept that our world is becoming more racially stratified, our interaction with people of different races will continue to increase and as such we need to make time to adequately understand one another, and if needed investigate the roots of their pain. If we want to preach the Good News of Jesus, we need to know what the bad news is... we don’t need to look that hard. When it comes to racism, events this year should act as a wakeup call to all Christian brothers and sisters. Black History Month provides an easy conversation starter, enabling grace led conversations with our black and brown brothers and sisters, online or in person. But our conversations need to be followed by godly action.


1 Cor 12:22-23 urges us to bestow greater honour to those who are weaker, less presentable and less honourable. Bestowing honour may mean stepping out of our comfort zones and taking a risk but it’s not that hard. It could be a listening ear, practically serving someone or advocating for someone or a racial group who has no voice – many of us have the skills and knowledge to do this to great effect. Everyone can play a part, don’t rule yourself out! Ultimately, we bestow greater honour on others including those who face racial discrimination because our Father bestowed greater honour on us (Col 1:21). We sinned, but because of Jesus’s amazing sacrifice, He forgives and redeems us, bringing us into a relationship with Himself and giving us eternal life! If God is prepared to bestow honour upon us (who are totally undeserving); how much more should we be those who quickly bestow greater honour on others who come to us with the pain and burden of racism?


Let us see people as made in the image of God, a mirror reflecting the King's radiant beauty and therefore possessed of no small dignity. 


Let us not be racially blind. Instead let us seek to help bind up the wounds of those who come to us with the pain and burdens of racial abuse and discrimination. And let us do so knowing that the resurrection of Jesus means that superiority, inferiority, racism, division, apathy and indifference will not have the last word!


We know how the story ends. Christ will return. In the words of Jemar Tisby “...we will all look back at the history — not just of a single race but of people from every nation, tribe, and tongue, colour, creed, gender, age, economic status— and see that our Creator had a plan all along. He is writing a story that points to His glory, and in the new creation, the new Heaven and new Earth His people won’t have a month set aside to remember His greatness. We’ll have all eternity.”