Hogg urges Southern Baptists to break down racial walls

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--America owes a debt of blood to Charles Drew -- literally. Drew, an African American doctor in the early 20th century, developed methods of typing and storing blood. His work led to the practice of blood transfusions, which saved countless lives during World War II.

Drew never patented his discoveries. He called them gifts from God. He did not want to create wealth -- only health.

Involved in a car accident one fateful day, Drew ironically required the very discovery he used to help others. But the hospital where an ambulance rushed him did not help him. They did not have "colored" blood. Despite Drew’s pleas that all people bled the same, the doctors sent him away to another hospital -- a "colored" one. He was dead on arrival.

"Thus, the man who is responsible for typing blood, for storing it, for transfusing it, bled to death en route to a ‘colored’ hospital," said Steve Hogg, a trustee of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and pastor of First Baptist Church in Rock Hill, S.C.

"I think about that [story] when I hear of churches who have no room for people of different cultures or races within their fellowship," said Hogg, addressing seminary trustees during their annual spring meeting, April 19-21.

"What you and I encounter today may not be expressed in that same way, but it’s still there. It’s still part of our fabric. It’s still part of that conflict humanity is struggling with even now."

Humans too often look at each other not through the eyes of God’s grace, but through eyes tainted by sin. The results of sin, Hogg said, finds one people group against another, one race against another, one nation against another.

"It causes us to see people in a wrong way, resulting in wrong treatment toward them," he said. "The results are always tragic. It’s easy for those of us in ministry who preach God’s Word to forget what his Word actually says about some of these pressing issues."

Preaching from Micah 4, Hogg urged Christians to allow God to inspect their hearts to root out bigotry and stereotypes.

Christians holding to such attitudes are sinning against the God who called all his creation good, Hogg said. The words of an African American minister illustrates this, "‘If you hate me because I’m ignorant, I’ll educate myself. If you hate me because I’m dirty, I’ll clean myself. If you hate me because I’m pagan, I’ll become a Christian. But if you hate me because I’m black, I can only refer you to God who made me black.’"

The same blood that cleansed him, Hogg said, washes all other people -- regardless of race, creed or culture.

"We should come to God and let him teach us. And when we do that, our hearts are laid open, he judges them and he changes them," Hogg explained. "One of the most painful things we Christians do is lay our hearts and souls open before God and say, ‘God judge me.’ Take it, hold it in your hand and show me what it really looks like."

The greatest blessings spiritually though, Hogg said, often come when Christians do this toughest thing -- to be open to the purifying work of God.

Once hearts are laid bare under the light of Christ, Christians will rid themselves of "instruments that kill," Hogg stated. In Micah, the Israelites accomplished this by turning their weapons used to hurt, to kill, to destroy and to maim into helpful tools.

"You say, ‘Well, I don’t have instruments like that,’" Hogg said. "Yes, we do. We all do. Our attitudes. Our stereotypes. Our words. Our choices. Our inclinations. Our dispositions. Our behavior. We have weapons of war that cut, that maim, that hurt."

By presenting these to God, he will change any attitude. "Should we not, of all people, be the ones willing to do that?" Hogg asked.

Hogg reminded trustees that everyone will eventually, as promised by Micah to Israel, sit outside walled cities without fear. But, too often, Christians retreat to figurative "walled cities" because prejudice makes everyone afraid.

"We are a diverse denomination," Hogg said. "And yet, it’s hard to see. I believe there are still things that make us afraid. We still retreat to our walled cities. We retreat to the security of our kind -- the security of the familiar."

Hogg urged all Christians to overlook manmade walls to expand God’s kingdom. "It takes risk and it takes confidence in God. It takes seeing people through his eyes to get outside those walls."

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