Condescension Poisons the Mission

In the last week, a flurry of articles have chimed in on the situation in Charlottesville or on the current cultural temperature that it lays bare. I wrote on Monday of how this attitude affected our local missions over 100 years ago.

Today, though, I want to draw everyone’s attention to an excellent piece by Scott Hildreth. Scott directs the Center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and this piece is on point. Scott digs to what I consider the heart of the matter for the church, namely, how racism impacts our Christ-given commission as local assemblies of light in this present age.

In short, you need to read this one:

Why White Supremacy Frustrates the Mission of God

In his article, Scott makes a point that I think we all need to hear. He writes:

The only man who condescended to reach others was Jesus. Therefore, our missions strategies must reflect the reality that the majority culture Christian is merely a sinner seeking to tell another sinner about the savior.

Folks, let’s be honest, this is very often a problem in our missionary endeavors. Frankly, condescension poisons the mission.

You have heard it; you may have said it. How often have we talked about short term mission trips as those of us with plenty going to help those poor little people who cannot take care of themselves? How often do we assume a lack of intelligence or ability on the part of those we deem “in need” of our service? This is not just a problem on short term missions trips, either. How do we feel about serving that elementary school in the “less fortunate” part of town? Missions from the white majority culture world of North America is often guilty of a messiah complex. We must be careful; however, because it is Christ who saves, not our handouts

There is no stepping down that occurs when Christians reach out in service to others.

In the wake of an event like what occurred in Charlottesville, it is easy to decry the abstraction of “racism” without considering how an subtle attitude of superiority may be impacting the way we go about our primary purpose as Christians. Let us certainly name the evils of racism, but let us also make sure we let the light of the gospel pass over our own hearts and reveal any darkness that may reside within.

As Scott puts it, we’re just sinners seeking to tell another sinner about the savior.

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