Bloodlines - John Piper | Concluding Thoughts
After each book, I plan to write a few concluding thoughts on the big takeaways for me personally as well as some points of application for our church moving forward. There are two significant takeaways from this book that I hope will be foundational to the way we think about race and ethnicity moving forward.
The Beauty of Ethnic Diversity
The most valuable aspect of this book was how Piper helped us see the beauty of ethnic diversity from the perspective of God’s plan of redemption. It is easy to roll our eyes when our culture makes diversity a talking point to either virtue signal or gain votes in the election. Piper has helped us see that one of the primary aims of the gospel is to glorify God’s grace by redeeming ethnically diverse people who are united in Christ (Rev 5:9-10). To know that God’s grace is magnified, and his purposes advanced in our pursuit of ethnic diversity should give us a deep and lasting motivation. This makes me want to pursue ethnic diversity for God’s sake and for the sake of the gospel instead of placating our culture. I pray that our church would not be jaded by calls from our culture for superficial diversity, rather, we ought to pursue biblical ethnic diversity that is rooted in a biblical desire to exalt the name of Christ among all peoples.
The Gospel as the Primary Lens
This goes without saying but the main reason we chose to begin with this book by Piper is because of his persistent aim to consider the issues of race and ethnicity foundationally from a biblical perspective. While the cultural conversation begins with blaming either personal or systemic issues as the root cause of racial division, Piper began by giving us a set of complex sinful forces from within and without that play a role in perpetuating racial division. Piper reminded us that behind the deep racial divisions in our country our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places which ought to inform our prayers. Piper also helped us see the power of sin at work in each of our lives that produces guilt, pride, hopelessness, greed, fear, hate, and apathy are fundamentally the root causes of racism in our society. Most people would acknowledge that these sin in our hearts is the reason racism persists; however, it is just as true that sinful people build sinful societies. From a theological perspective, it is easy to see that racist attitudes at a personal level will be reflected in racist structures in our society both at the community and institutional level. This does not give us easy answers on how to address the complexity of the issues, but it does help us see the pervasive effects of sin in our hearts as well as in every structure in society. Piper doesn’t leave us there, but he gives us hope that the gospel offers in addressing all the devastating efforts of sin. I hope that we can grow in understanding these issues primary through the lens of the gospel instead of the lenses the culture wants us to use.
By reading this book, we’ve taken a small but important step in training our powers of discernment to distinguish good from evil when it comes to race and ethnic issues. Our next book in the Gospel and Race Project will be Respect the Image by Tim Shorey. The focus of this book is on learning to respect one another by how we talk and how we listen. Especially on topics in which there may be disagreement (e.g. gospel and race), our manner of speech can cause hurt, misunderstandings, frustration, and division, but it can also be a source of healing, encouragemnt, and peace. As we read this next book, I pray that we will grow in communicating with one another in a manner that is always gracious, seasoned with salt, so that we may know how to answer each person. (Col. 4:6). I am eager to learn how to do that with you. This will be the focus of our blog posts over the next two months leading up to the Respect the Image Seminar on Saturday, May 1st. I hope you save that date on your calendar as we make this a priority for our church in the coming months.
- How would you describe the beauty of ethnic diversity from a biblical perspective?
- How would you describe the roots of racism and how the gospel addresses them?
- Help us see and desire the beauty of God's plan for ethnic diversity in our church.
- Give us wisdom to see these issues primarily through the lens of the gospel.
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