Diverse church?

Reflections by Paul Cooke, France Mission’s Director

While 2020 will undoubtedly go down in history as the year of Covid-19, it’s also been the year in which the Black Lives Matter movement has had a huge impact all over the world, especially in North America and Europe.

Given Jesus’ command that we should “love each other” as He has loved us (John 15.12) and the fact that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, […],for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3.28), Christians shouldn’t need persuading that racism is sinful. But, because of “sin’s deceitfulness” (Heb. 3.13), it’s all too easy for our attitudes in this area to be shaped more by our culture than by Christ.

In my home church (whose members are predominantly white British), the death of George Floyd caused us to reflect on the abundant Scriptural teaching about (in)justice and what it means to embody the love of Christ. Perhaps your church has been asking similar questions?

In France, there seems to have been less of a reaction among churches – perhaps because there is already a strong level of ethnic diversity within French evangelical churches and this has been the norm for many years. Perhaps the French church has something important to teach the English-speaking world in this respect?

Of course, there is plenty of prejudice within French society, as was seen over the summer when an evangelical church in Saint-Étienne was targeted by racist graffiti. I can well understand why, referring to the French Republican motto of Liberté, égalité, fraternité, black pastor François Furtade says: “Apart from God, I find it difficult to believe in the reality of the ‘fraternity’ proclaimed in our Republic’s motto.” But, as he significantly adds: “within the Church, unity is given to us from above.” Whatever our nationality or ethnicity, may we all “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4.3).

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Paul Cooke

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