In a Monday afternoon workshop at the 2021 Texas Baptists Annual Meeting in Galveston, Dr. Timothy Fuller, CEO of Fuller Life Ministry Consultants, urged churches to see the task of racial reconciliation as its problem to solve. The gospel, he said, is at the heart of the model to make that happen.
“We need a model that proactively declares and demonstrates the truth of the gospel. We need to mix and merge many of these other models into the gospel integration model,” said Fuller, a native of Cleburne and two-time graduate of Southwestern Seminary. “It focuses on changing hearts and transforming lives, first in the individual and then in whole communities.”
Fuller began by detailing the reality of racial issues, which he explained includes denial, insensitivity or hypersensitivity, and misconceptions. Fuller said that, while society may believe racism calls for a political and governmental solution, previous legislation has done nothing to change the heart, so racism still exists.
“The racial problem needs to be addressed because it impacts the Great Commission,” he said, referencing the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10. “The racial problem needs to be addressed because it is antithetical to the Great Commandment. You cannot love your neighbor when you think you are better than him or less than him!”
Fuller also said racial issues break the heart of Jesus because he spoke repeatedly on unity in his last words in John 17 and because it is out of step with the gospel. When Jesus spoke of the kingdom being “on earth as it is in heaven,” he was referring to unity and diversity, Fuller said. That can only happen with reconciliation.
“Reconciliation is above all the work of God and can only happen in his presence and his power. It’s a spiritual battle with spiritual solutions and is based on a healthy sense of identity in Christ,” he said.
Using the story of the woman at the well, Fuller further explained the Gospel Integration Model involves a true understanding of worship, which focuses on commonality and fosters an atmosphere of openness and vulnerability.
“The Bible’s view of the community of God has always been a multicultural, multicolored community of blood-bought believers who love each other intensely and spread that love to the unbelieving world,” said Fuller.”
“We cannot be people that talk about the Great Commission if we don’t appreciate all the [ethnicities]. We can’t make them like us but appreciate where they are,” he said.
Fuller explained that believers are free to celebrate their culture but that their identity in Christ is more important. The Good Samaritan demonstrated that, he said, when caring for the man on the street without knowing his identity but simply because it was the neighborly thing to do.
“Jesus says to do likewise,” he says. “I don’t want you to be a neighbor in the State Farm way or the Mister Rogers way. I want you to be a neighbor in the Good Samaritan way.”
In closing, Fuller encouraged attendees not to try and adopt a culture not their own but simply to live out the kingdom of God on earth and embrace everyone in Christ.
“Just don’t prioritize your identity over Christ’s identity,” he said. “I’m going to see people of different languages and tongues around the throne in Heaven. That’s how the Kingdom looks like.”