Friday, January 6, 2012

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian

My last book review was on Kisses From Katie.  If you still haven't read it, click off of this, click on Amazon, and order it.  It's an in-depth look at how to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  After you learn that concept and realize that Katie is a white girl who doesn't care a lick about the fact that all her 14 adopted daughters have dark skin, read this book by John Piper-  Bloodlines:  Race, Cross, and the Christian.  This book is 267 pages of exactly what God intended race and ethnicity to be in the Christian life, and the screwed up mess we as sinful, fallen, human beings have made of it.  Oh.  Please.  Read.  This.  Bloodlines is not for the person looking for a weekend fun easy read.  No, ma'am.  Bloodlines is for the Christian looking for an answer to "Who did God make me to be in relation to every other people group on this planet?"  I was lucky (not that there is any such thing as "luck" in the Christian life).  I had studied in depth almost all of the scripture passages contained in this book before, so I was able to read it and understand the first time the majority of what John Piper was saying.  I realize that most people have not had the opportunity or have not taken advantage of the opportunity to study, using the Precept Upon Precept method, the passages from the Bible that he discusses.  So don't be surprised if you find yourself reading a couple paragraphs and going back to re-read them again. It's a good thing.  Much of the information will probably by new to you. 

Have you ever wondered what you can do in your hometown to promote race equality?  Have you wondered what God said about race equality at all?  Is it okay to marry interracially?  Be best friends with someone of another race?  Have an interracial church family?  What about affirmative action?  What about the history of slavery of America?  Where does that leave me?  What about global promotion of the gospel?  What does the Bible actually say about any of those topics?  If you can answer yes to any of those questions, then this book is for you! 

John Piper adopted a child of a different race 15 years ago.  He has spoken on this topic.  You can find a sermon here on a multitude of racial issues if you'd like to listen http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/by-topic/racial-harmony

Bloodlines is broken down into 2 major parts.  Part one is Our World:  The Need For The Gospel and it has two sections.  In section one John Piper gives his history and some statistics about the global shifting of different ethnic groups.

He says, "I believe that the gospel- the good news of Christ crucified in our place to remove the wrath of God and provide forgiveness of sins and power for sanctification- is our only hope for the kind of racial diversity and harmony that ultimately matters.  If we abandon the fullness of the gospel to make racial and ethnic diversity quicker or easier, we create a mere shadow of the kingdom, an imitation.  And we lose the one thing that can bring about Christ-exalting diversity and harmony.  Any other kind is an alluring snare.  For what does it profit a man if he gains complete diversity and loses his own soul?"

Regarding the statistics, Piper states that "The point of theses statistics about the urbanization, diversification, and the changing global church is fourfold.  First, I hope they humble those of us who are white and have assumed a kind of dominance for a long time.  This is fading, and, if God would humble us under his wise and mighty hand, we would rejoice with tremendous joy.  Second, I hope this new ethnic reality inclines our hearts to know and love our Christian brothers and sisters who are ethnically different from ourselves and makes us eager and ready to be genuine partners with them in the great challenges of missions before us.  Third, I pray the reality of ever-nearer racial and ethnic diversity will make us go deeper into the grace of the gospel so that our roots are strong, when change seems overwhelming or even threatening.  In that way, I pray we would increasingly bear the fruit of the gospel in the pursuit of Christ-exalting ethnic deversity and harmony.  That's why I worote the book."

He's trying to get us to see that it DOES NOT MATTER in the grand scheme of things what color our skin is.  God made each of us differently and those differences can be celebrated.  "Color and ethnicity will count for nothing in the court of heaven.  One thing will count:  the perfection of Jesus Christ.  The question will be:  are we 'found in him, not having a righteousness of our own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith' (Phil. 3:9)?  Which means that the root answer to moral disintegration - white and black- is not government help or self-help, but the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1;16).  And this salvation is the power of 'righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit' (Rom. 14:17). "

The second part of the book is divided into 4 sections on issues with the gospel, application of the gospel, freedom, interracial marraiges, and prejudice being just a few of the topics covered.  It's called God's Word:  The Power Of The Gospel.

Piper makes it clear that the Bible is not right-wing or left-wing.  Only correct.  Period.  He points out the contradictions between what the Bible says and what confessing Christians have done for the last 2000 years.

He says, "By his (Jesus) blood he obtained them for himself, and he 'must bring them also'.  That is what world missions is for.  Christ gathers his sheep through his ambassadors.  If the purchase of a people - a bride, a church, a kingdom, and priesthood - "from every tribe' is intentional, designed, and purposeful, and not a coincidence, not by human chance, then the implications for racial and ethnic diversity and harmony among Christ's people are huge. "  "God intends to have a people not just from three or four ethnic groups, but from all ethnic groups.  All shades, all shapes, all cultures.  This is underlined by the four words 'people,' 'tribe,' 'language,' and 'nation' (Greek ethnos).  This covers the whole range of ethnic diversity in the world.  God intentionally pursues a people that is extraordinarily diverse."

This book is challenging on a myriad of levels.  History, what you may have been taught by your family, what notions you have in your mind about the stereotypes of race, what the Bible says about ethnic diversity, among so many others.  I pray you will read this book.  Don't be afraid to have your beliefs challenged!  If every Christian read this book, the world would be changed.  Because it's filled with Scripture.  And if every Christian knew and understood Scripture, the world would be changed.  Instead of sitting in the pew on Sunday and receiving two or three verses of Scripture during the sermon, get out of your comfort zone and read it for yourself!  Discover God's character.  It will change your life.  I don't need to promise you that. God already has.

1 comment:

  1. I need to read both of these...if there is ever time to read again :)

    ReplyDelete