In His Image

Pastor Rob Bloss

It’s Black History Month, a time to celebrate the incredible achievements of African Americans and remember that Black history is a part of everyone’s history. Recognizing the dignity of black people means embracing the narrative of black people. It means learning from black people. It means drawing encouragement and wisdom from black people. It means coming alongside and championing the cause of black people in a manner that brings glory to God.

For all Christians, the month can serve to remind us that we serve a creative God who made every single one of us in His image and called us His masterpiece. By celebrating and listening to black voices and leaders, we remember that unity is never uniformity, and every part of the body of Christ is essential.  

“As a black man, I know that God's love for me is no different than His love for any other person, regardless of ethnicity.  Let's be a community who sees each other through God's eyes”.  – Enock Delaporte (Covenant Elder)

Our uniquenesses all tell a part of the human story—to ignore them is to ignore a part of God’s good creation. Revelation 7:9-10 says, “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Even when we get to heaven all our ethnic distinctions will be present around the throne! So it seems clear that the church should endeavor to live in the light of this powerful truth – to put on display for the whole world to see at least a glimpse of what heaven will be like.

While we can’t give dignity to anyone because God has already done so, it is our place to recognize that God-given dignity and treat one another accordingly. When we refuse to recognize the image of God in a person or in a group of people, God is dishonored.

In 2016, after nearly a dozen years of prayer, study, and discussion, the Presbyterian Church in America's General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of an overture that offered an apology for past and present actions of racism. Here is the heart of their statement:

“Be it resolved, that the 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of corporate and historical sins, including those committed during the Civil Rights era, and continuing racial sins of ourselves and our fathers such as the segregation of worshipers by race; the exclusion of persons from Church membership on the basis of race; the exclusion of churches, or elders, from membership in the Presbyteries on the basis of race; the teaching that the Bible sanctions racial segregation and discourages inter-racial marriage; the participation in and defense of white supremacist organizations; and the failure to live out the gospel imperative that “love does no wrong to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10); and

Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of past failures to love brothers and sisters from minority cultures in accordance with what the Gospel requires, as well as failures to lovingly confront our brothers and sisters concerning racial sins and personal bigotry, and failing to “learn to do good, seek justice and correct oppression (Isaiah 1:17);” and

Be it further resolved, that this General Assembly praises and recommits itself to the gospel task of racial reconciliation, diligently seeking effective courses of action to further that goal, with humility, sincerity and zeal, for the glory of God and the furtherance of the Gospel…”

My prayer is that Covenant is not just a safe place for all people, but a place that celebrates all people. In celebrating the created we are acknowledging and giving praise to the Creator.

Church, let’s pursue diversity as a good gift from God. Let’s celebrate the ethnicity of every member of Covenant. Let’s work to listen and learn, to value and validate. Let’s commit ourselves to fighting for biblical justice and practicing biblical mercy. Let’s be willing to be uncomfortable, to come under conviction by the Holy Spirit and confess our sins of omission and commission. Let’s be quick to ask for forgiveness and quick to forgive.

Let’s make it more than a month but a lifestyle that seeks to live out the gospel. Let’s weave the dignity of people, of every nation, tribe, and language, into the DNA of our church culture as an application of the gospel and the mark of a disciple.

Here is a link to some resources put together by the Biblical Justice and Mercy Ministry Team. You can also check out some upcoming Discussion and Care Groups that will provide opportunities to learn more about racial reconciliation.

Book Club focused on Understanding Issues of Race in the Church

Each of the next 3 months we will recommend a featured book to be read. We will have planned discussion nights to unpack what we have learned. Let us journey together for the sake of unity in the body. Each session will begin at 7pm and include a time of learning and conversation. Join Here.

·      February 25, Oneness by Dr Tony Evans

·      March 26, Divided By Faith by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith

·      April 22, The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby

Together for the Kingdom: Making a difference through inclusion 

This four-part learning experience is to help us grow in our understanding of interpersonal relationships and expand what it means to be an inclusive community at Covenant. Each session will begin at 7pm and include a time of learning and conversation.

·      March 4:  What is inclusion? A social and scriptural definition

·      March 11: Unconscious Bias - a barrier to inclusion

·      March 18: Recognizing Bias - reflecting on how we think and respond to others 

·      March 25: Everyday inclusion that makes a difference

Coming in April: Be the Bridge Care Group.

Change begins with an honest conversation among a group of Christians willing to give a voice to unspoken hurts, hidden fears, and mounting tensions. Pastor Rob Chifokoyo will walk with this group using a guide that applies biblical principles, such as lamentation, confession, and forgiveness, to lay the framework for change, healing, and restoration. The call is for every follower of Jesus to become a bridge builder—committed to pursuing justice and racial unity in light of the gospel.