When I was growing up, a popular chorus was often sung in our church that celebrated God’s love of human life, emphasizing that all are precious in his sight no matter what their race or ethnicity. Having this song a regular part of our church’s repertoire was a curious thing when I think back, as I don’t remember any ethnic minorities in that congregation; only a crowd of white faces amid a city of growing racial diversity.
Much of the world has plunged into intense soul searching about how we see people of a different race over the past week. The death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, while being forcefully arrested by four white police officers, has triggered a public outcry. Countless personal stories are being shared about racial victimization, while protestors plead for changed attitudes and a better way.
We at the Evangelical Free Church of Lethbridge are committed to building bridges to our neighborhoods and to the world. This commitment stands without exception, which is why we explicitly state that anyone is welcome into our warm and loving family. We refuse to let racial differences separate us. In fact, we know our lives are impoverished when we exclude relationship with any segment of the population; In contrast, our lives are enriched when we are broadly and deeply connected.
Our commitment to engage relationally with all people is rooted in our Christian beliefs. At a foundational level we recognize that all people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1: 26-27), something that endures despite sin (Genesis 9: 6). We also understand that every human being is loved by God and precious to him. This reality was evident in the way Jesus lived his life on this earth and how he did not allow social norms to prevent him from connecting with those of different ethnicities or race (John 4:9). In addition, we are reminded that Christ died for all (2 Corinthians 5: 15), God’s ultimate expression of love for every human being.
For this reason, racial injustices are an affront to the gospel of Jesus Christ, what Russel Moore describes as “… part of an ongoing guerilla insurgency against the image of God himself.”
Followers of Jesus, who share God’s heart for justice, find this intolerable and are moved towards setting things right. We counter the guerilla insurgency by engaging in the ministry of reconciliation, the focus of God’s work, and what he has entrusted to each one of us (Colossians 1: 20, 2 Corinthians 5: 18).
So how do we address racial discrimination? There are endless possibilities, but here are three suggestions as starting points:
Start by praying Psalm 51: 10: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”. Ask God to check motives, reveal prejudices, correct attitudes, and forgive sinful ways.
Focus on the common ground that you share with others as a result of your “oneness in Christ” (Galatians 3: 28), keeping in mind that our friendships across racial barriers give witness to the power of the gospel and are a foretaste of when Gods’ people will be united from “every people, tribe, language and nation” (Revelation 5: 9; 7: 9, 11: 9; 14:6).
Make a concerted effort to “welcome a stranger” (Matthew 25: 31-46). As Shane Claiborne reminds us, our big visions for reconciliation will be realized “…only when they are first lived out in real relationships, out of our homes, and around our dinner tables, and in our living rooms.” 
We have a passionate group of Jesus followers in our church who embody the three points above and, I am convinced, they will be a key part of leading our church into the future. They are the leadership team of our Intercultural Ministries, and I am sure that if everyone lived the way that they do, racial injustices would fade and our communities would be much safer and healthier. God has been leading our church to give greater attention to this area of ministry and I am excited about what lies ahead.
By the way, remember that church where I grew up? Well, they now have almost 50 language groups represented in their congregation and racial diversity is what makes it stand out as a unique and special place to be.