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Be Flexible in Your Thinking About Race – Part 1
Archived – March 5, 2023

Be Flexible in Your Thinking About Race – Part 1

March 5, 2023

An Introduction

  • Matthew 24:7–8 (ESV)7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
    • Kingdom = Basailia; βασιλεία (basileia). n. fem. kingdom. Refers to the domain over which a king rules. Joshua A. Crutchfield, “Divine Sovereignty,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
      • The word “kingdom” in this passage refers to state government.
    • Nation = Ethnos; ἔθνος (ethnos). n. neut. nation, people. A body of persons united by kinship, culture, and common traditions. In the plural it is frequently the group of non-Jews that become a central focus of the worldwide gospel proclamation. Matthew Minard, “Gentiles,” ed. Douglas Mangum et al., Lexham Theological Wordbook, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
      • The word “nation” in this passage refers to a people with a shared identity and heritage.

This brief sermon series is about Putting racial conflict in perspective and navigating it with peace.

No Shortage of Opinions

Part of the difficulty of even talking about this subject is that we all have ideas about what the race problem is and how to address it.

Getting Beyond the Surface

  • A go-to move in sports is a move you make in a pinch without much thought.
  • It’s often unconscious.
    • Things we think that we don’t know we’re thinking. We just think them.
    • Things we do that we don’t know we’re doing. We just do them.
    • This is dangerous. Why?
      • Go-to thoughts and moves are useful when things are simple.
      • Racial conflict isn’t one of those things.
      • Racial conflict is
        • Complex
        • Nuanced
        • Layered
        • Levelled
      • Complex = 1.) A lot of different but related parts 2.) Difficult to understand or find an answer to because of having many different parts. [Cambridge Dictionary]
      • Nuanced (adjective) = “characterized by subtle changes in meaning or expression” [Oxford Languages Dictionary] {Subtle = “so delicate or precise [that it is] difficult to analyze or describe” [Oxford Languages Dictionary]} {Nance (noun) = “a quality of something that is not easy to notice, but may be important” [Cambridge Dictionary]}
      • Layered = “used to describe something that is complicated and interesting because it has many different” dimensions “or features.” [Adapted from the Cambridge Dictionary] {Think of a trece leches cake or a lasagna}
      • Levelled (I’m using this word in a non-standard way) = something that exits in varying degrees of intensity or strength {My own definition}

“Stay Woke”

  • It’s dangerous to rely on go-to thoughts and go-to moves in a world that is complex, nuanced, layered and levelled.
  • To be asleep is to be unaware.
  • To be awake is to be aware.
    • Scripture invites us to embrace this analogy:
      • 1 Thessalonians 5:1–6 (ESV)1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.


      • “Woke” is black slang for “awake.”
      • Woke is just an expression of African American Vernacular English (AAVE)
      • It has dual meaning
        • Literally, it means “awake.”
        • Figuratively it means to be spiritually and politically aware.
  • 1 Corinthians 9:19–23 (ESV)19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
    • God cares more about people than He cares about your ideas—even if you’re right about them.
    • God cares more about winning people to Him than He does about winning people to your political agenda.



© Joshua D. Smith, Ph.D., 2023

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