Pastor and author Tony Evans says Christians should support Black History Month as a way to embrace unity and diversity within the church, saying “God does His best work” when the body of Christ is walking together.
Evans, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, says in a new column for Relevant Magazine that he is sometimes asked by white friends what the purpose of Black History Month is. Those same friends, he says, also ask, “Shouldn’t we have White History Month, too?”
“That statement is usually followed up by a chuckle in an attempt to take the edge off of what has the potential of turning into an awkward conversation,” Evans, who is black, wrote.
Evans says he welcomes such conversations.
February is Black History Month.
“God has intentionally reconciled racially divided groups into one new man (Ephesians 2:14-15), uniting them into a new body (Ephesians 2:16), in order that the Church can function as one (Ephesians 2:13). When the Church functions as one, we boldly brag on God to a world in desperate need of experiencing Him,” Evans wrote.
“... The reason we haven’t solved the racial divide in America after hundreds of years is because people apart from God are trying to invent unity, while people who belong to God are not living out the unity we already possess. The result of both of these situations has been, and will continue to be, disastrous for our nation. Let alone disastrous for the witness of Christ to our nation.”
Comparing the church to a football team, Evans said a successful team consists of 11 players who “not only know who they are, but who also know who everyone else is.” That is, he said, they are “working together to reach the same goal.”
Evans was not taught about the accomplishments of black Americans when he was in school, he wrote.
“In my all-Black classrooms, I learned about white culture and white history,” he wrote. “I read about Paul Revere and his midnight ride. But what my teachers failed to mention was that on the night of Paul Revere’s ride, another man – a Black man named Wentworth Cheswell – also rode on behalf of our nation’s security. He rode north with the same exact message. Reading my Scofield Bible each week at church, I was reminded that we, as Blacks, were under a curse of slavery. After all, it wrongly referenced it in the notes in my Bible. What I didn’t learn was the rich heritage of people of color in the Bible, and even that there were Black men and women in the lineage of Jesus Christ.”
Without an “authentic self-awareness,” Evans wrote, “African-Americans often struggle as we seek to play on the same team toward the same goal in the body of Christ.”
“But my white brothers and sisters also need to be aware of who we are, and who God has created and positioned us to be at this critical time in our world,” Evans wrote. “Black History Month gives us an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with our own past in such a way that will enable us to embrace our diversity to its fullest, putting unity to use for good. When we do that – when we knowledgeably serve side by side – there will be no stopping what we can do in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.