Elders' Letter to the Congregation on Racism: June 11, 2020
Dear Moody Church Family:
Our hearts are grieving for our city and our nation right now. The effects of sin in all its forms—including racism and violence—continue to bring misery and pain and make us cry out even more for God’s mercy and justice. Because our Heavenly Father hates what is evil, His children must as well. And yet we recognize the evil that plagues our own hearts, for which we need His mercy and forgiveness.
Sadly, we recognize that this is inevitable in a fallen world that has rejected the lordship of Jesus Christ and seeks to marginalize Him at every turn. And yet we still grieve over the pain and suffering we see, and desire to be used by the Lord to work for righteousness wherever possible.
In such a polarized time as this, the church needs to humbly point the way to gospel unity and love. We believe the church in general and Moody Church in particular can be a source of light and racial reconciliation. We often celebrate the blessing of our church’s diversity, but to maintain it, we need to love one another by listening, seeking to understand, and using our words to build each other up. It is the way Jesus lived and the way He calls His people to live.
The Moody Church has not always been a place of such diversity, with over 70 nations represented in our family today. Our church history in the 1950s and ‘60s included racial prejudice within our own congregation. Some of our older members remember those difficult times, and remember what it took to overcome those divisions. It took the illuminating light of the gospel, and those willing to live it out, to reveal the darkness within our walls so that we could take the steps necessary to reconcile and pursue a God-honoring path towards biblical diversity.
This is critical for us now as our nation is confronted again with the evil of racism and its aftermath in the case of George Floyd and others. The gospel is the only solution to the heart problem from which racism arises, because Christ alone has broken down the dividing wall of hostility between races and people (Eph. 2:13–16). We have been entrusted with this gospel; what will we do with it?
Let us affirm clearly as a church: racism is sin. It is evil. It is an affront to God who has made all of us in His image, equal and worthy of respect and honor. And so let us not be passive but actively against racial hatred through how we live out the gospel on a daily basis.
How do we do that? This past Sunday, Pastor Philip Miller encouraged us to model Jesus’ approach to peacemaking and healing injustice through four steps:
- Get Close. Lean into the hard places and the uncomfortable conversations. Purposefully draw near to those who are hurting.
- Get Curious. Discover what it’s like to experience this world from another perspective. Ask questions to learn from others’ experiences and be open to their wisdom and insight. Read about Jesus’ approach in John 4; it’s not just that He drew near to those who were hurting, it was how He drew near to them that mattered most.
- Get Compassionate. Allow our hearts to break with what breaks the heart of Jesus. If you find your heart hard towards the suffering of others, get down on your knees and ask the Lord to give you a heart like His.
- Get Contrite. Ask God to search your heart to reveal the areas where you’ve been callous or apathetic towards injustice. Seek forgiveness and pursue reconciliation with God and man knowing that we have a God who forgives our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
Brothers and sisters, we must seek to live out the truth of the gospel in such a way that God’s saving love for all ethnicities is made clear. The Moody Church is a beautiful picture of the harmony that can exist in a diverse body. Let us, by God’s grace, bring this picture into sharper focus. That will mean different actions for each of us as God leads us, but we can’t do nothing in the face of a city and nation that need to see that the family of God cares for all people in Jesus’ name.
As a church, we need to continue to focus on Jesus, who brought reconciliation between humanity and God by coming close, entering into our diverse experiences with compassion and grace, and bearing the injustices of this world to bring healing and peace. Jesus did that for us. Now He calls us to do the same for others.
For God’s glory,
The Elder Council
Philip Miller (Senior Pastor), Berv Peterson (Chair), Tom Sawyer (Vice-Chair), Kevin Baloue, Joseph Carré, Tony Durns, Steve Giere, Scott Pratt, Reg Rawden, Greg Thornton, and Phil Zahn
Bill Bertsche and Michael Pitts (Associate Elders)