Recently, Trevin Wax had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Tony Evans via video chat to speak on some of the racial injustice and discrimination issues facing our country and the church. In this third video in the series, Dr. Evans talks about how we address issues of race in our churches and in our homes.
The entire video is above, and the complete transcript is below.
Trevin Wax: Do you think we may be reaching something of a tipping point in recent weeks when it comes to fervor for seeing real structural changes in society and understanding from brothers and sisters in Christ of all colors who are recognizing that we live in a society that we want to see become more fair, more equitable? Are you seeing more passion in churches for addressing racial justice and seeking to have it prevail in society?
Tony Evans: Well, obviously this is not an issue that can be escaped from because it is dominating the news, it is dominating our environments. It is creating fear. It is creating people asking questions. It has galvanized the next generation—white and black. So it is an inescapable reality that we must confront.
The question on the floor is, how will the church respond? Will we merely be reactionary, or will we set in motion a whole new direction that the culture can react to because it’s spiritually driven? This is a spiritual problem; it needs a spiritual solution with practical manifestations. And if we can get out in front and stop just reacting, then we can set a new pace—Christ be not come—for a better future for ourselves as the church. This is a tremendous opportunity. And while it’s coming in the midst of a tremendous frustration, irritation, and exasperation, if we will get going and cross lines, racially and culturally, and no longer allow illegitimate division to define us, this can be a day that we have not seen for a long time—led by the church.
Trevin Wax: Dr. Evans, you are a father; you’re a grandfather. You’ve shepherded your children, now your grandchildren, through moments like this. I just wondered if you would let us learn from how you talk through these kinds of things. How do you teach in moments like this?
Tony Evans: Well, the first thing I do is, I establish with them their identity in Christ and that their race—which is never to be denied, always to be appreciated—must be subject to their identity in Christ. And when their race, our race, anybody’s race, conflicts with their Christian identity, their race is out of order. So that way, I create a boundary for Black pride.
Yes, God created all the races intentionally. Noah had three sons with three different shades—Shem, Japheth, and Ham—and each of them is a color. Okay? A shade. Ham is dark, Japheth is bright, and Shem is dusk. So God allowed the races to be established to the table of nations, and so He is intentionally wanting there to be differences. But what He doesn’t want is any difference to overrule Him.
And so we can be proud of our history, our accomplishments—we can repent of our sins that are embedded in our history, our race—but we are to never allow it to trump Christ. If every Christian would place their race under the rulership of Jesus Christ, we wouldn’t have an issue. But we’ve allowed race to become an idol, and when race becomes an idol, then that idol then becomes an enemy of God. So we establish a spiritual foundation.
Then, Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, to relate to people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. That you look at people based on how they conduct themselves, how they operate, what they believe, not based on how they look or their complexion. So that opens up the floodgates to relationships based on shared values, and that’s what we need to do in the church. So I share that with them.
I also share with them respect for law and order, but also respect for fairness. When you are being mistreated, find the legitimate way to address it, not the illegitimate way to address it, because “Vengeance is mine,” says the Lord. “I will repay” (Romans 12:19). That doesn’t mean some floating concept in outer space. It means that God, either directly or through systems He has set up, knows how to bring about justice when there’s injustice.
So we give them these biblical principles to operate by, and, you know, we tell them, “If you have a problem, come to me and we’ll see what we can do about it.”
Trevin Wax: So, Dr. Evans, one last question for you. Jesus says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). You’ve already mentioned that in the Old Testament you have righteous and justice paired a lot. We know in the original language in the New Testament that that word—hungering and thirsting for justice or righteousness—it means, it’s a word that encompasses both. There’s a personal aspect of that and a public aspect of that. Jesus also says “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9), so how can we be seekers of justice and seekers of peace in this moment?
Tony Evans: We must be both simultaneously. On our website in the next week or so will be a three-point plan that we’re going to lay out that any community of Christians can take up, and we’ll help facilitate it, to be peacemakers in the midst of this. The three-point plan, I think, will answer your question.
Phase one is for churches to come together across racial and cultural lines for a solemn assembly, a sacred gathering in Scripture, fasting, and prayer because we were desperate for God because of the problems we found ourselves in. Those pastors will gather together virtually or in person once a month and then bring their congregations together annually, so there’s a corporate presence of God’s people who are kingdom minded and discipleship making in that community.
Phase two: to speak with one voice on justice and righteousness issues. That the church will speak and the church will declare what God says about an issue, because it’s now speaking as a unified entity.
Thirdly, to do good works together, so there will be a visible manifestation (Matthew 5:16) of the benefit that the church brings to a community: adopting every school in your community; adopting a police precinct; adopting—every church adopting x-number of homeless families so that you eradicate homelessness in your community. Now all of a sudden, people see the benefit of the church and the healing that the church brings.
Jeremiah 29:7, Seek the welfare of the city in which I have placed you. That was a pagan city, Babylon. And if you will make it a better place to live, it will be better for you. So if we become healers of the breach, repairers of the pain, then through practical ways, through pulpits engaging their people to make a difference in their community—and you do that in every community? You’ve touched the whole nation and you’ve not created anything new. You’ve just come together to do it as the unified body of Christ.
Trevin Wax: Thank you, Dr. Evans. That’s an inspiring vision. I hope that the church will heed that call. Thank you so much for taking some time today to talk to us.
Tony Evans: Thank you and God bless you.