Sermon preached at 2010 IL/MO state conference. Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin Jan/Feb 2011. All rights reserved.
By Greg Randle
In 1865 General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas, to declare to slaves there that they were free. The order that General Granger took to those slaves had been signed two and a half years earlier. So although the people had been pronounced free nearly three years before, they did not know it until the general came and told them. In essence they were still slaves. They thought like slaves. They talked like slaves. They even lived like they were slaves.
We have a lot of Christians today who are still thinking like slaves, still talking like slaves, still living like slaves. Although our emancipation proclamation was signed two thousand years ago by the blood of Jesus, we still don’t know how to treat one another in the Lord. God wants us to be able to come together in the Body of Christ regardless of our racial background, regardless of our ethnicity—to come and experience unity and fellowship one with another. In fact, Galatians 2 challenges us about an issue that we’ve been dealing with since the beginning of time: racism. Racism is the institutional power used to hold down a certain race of people through injustice or other unkind means. And the last place we should see racism is in the church of Jesus Christ.
Peter, the apostle to the Jews, and Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, confronted this issue. We see Peter’s failure, and Paul’s freedom to help him overcome his failure.