If Music Keeps Us Apart, Get Rid of Music: A Moment About Unity

“It’s a tragedy that black and white Christians segregate themselves for church, it really is…”

That’s the common line, soon followed by a “but”.

“..but you know, we like different music, and different worship music styles are important, so there’s not much we can do about it.”

There is something we can do about it: Get rid of the music.

I’m serious.

I love music. I play guitar, the flute, and the accordion (sort of) and I sing. I’ve led worship at big churches and conferences and all that stuff. Music is a gift from God.

But you know what? God wants unity. If we let one of His gifts override that, then we’re guilty of idolatry. So let’s drop it. It’s like my mom said: “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

Unity isn’t a side issue that should take a back-burner to missions trips, budget meetings, powerful Bible studies, children’s programs, or dynamic pulpit-preaching. Jesus prayed for one thing for His people, and it was none of those things.

One thing. And we’ve blown it. I’ve blown it.

I’ve settled for thinking it’s a side-issue, a thing that might take care of itself, if we just do our normal thing. That was a lie. Unity is not an option.

If the cross doesn’t matter in this issue, it doesn’t matter at all.

Jesus’ world, the world of the first century, was riven with racism and injustice.

Here’s Derwin Gray and Frank Viola:

In the mind of a first-century Jew, Gentiles (Africans, Romans, Greeks, Syrians, Asians, etc.) were created to fuel the fires of hell… If a Jewish person married a Gentile, the Jewish parents held a funeral service for their child. In their eyes, their child was dead. On the flip side, Gentiles regarded Jews to be sub-human. Historically, the Jews have been an oppressed people, living under the thumb of one Gentile nation after another (e.g., Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome).

In all of human history, there has never been so much animosity, hatred, and violence between two groups of people as there has been between the Jew and the Gentile.

But alas, in the first-century, there emerged a group of people on the planet who transcended this racial hostility. Here was a group of people who saw themselves as members of the same family . . . a people made up of Jews, Gentles, slaves, free, rich, poor, male and female. These were the early Christians. The Roman world stood in awe as they saw a people who hated each other began to love one another and do life together in the Name of Jesus.

Watch them walking into the market place together, arm and arm, singing with joy in their hearts. Jew and Gentile. Slave and free. Rich and poor. Male and female. Look at them closely. Jew and Gentile eating together, working together, greeting one another with a holy kiss, raising their children together, taking care of one another, marrying one another, and burying one another.

This fact blew the circuitry of every person living in Century One. It shook the Roman Empire to its very foundations…

To their minds, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, rich and poor no longer existed. The early believers saw themselves as part of the same family . They were a new race . . . a colony from another realm, not of or from this earth. Yet for this earth.

If modern American evangelicalism wants anything, it wants to be “relevant”. Fair enough, I guess.

But I’m convinced it really is this simple: If we’re unified, we’re relevant.

If we’re not, we’re not. Period.

If the cross doesn’t matter in this issue, it doesn’t matter at all.

If “music style” keeps us apart, forget music. Forget it, that is, until we get our priorities straight. Music matters to you? Great! Me, too! –  but unity matters more.

If you are black, and belong to Christ, I am not your “white brother in Christ”. I am your brother in Christ, period. Yes, a nerdy and odd and sometimes embarrassing brother in Christ, sure, but a brother in Christ.

And you are my brother, truly. Jesus didn’t just turn racism on its head, he re-defined family, and guess what: I’m in yours, and you’re in mine. This isn’t a papering over of a brutal and horrible history. It’s not a candy-coating of real problems and privilege. It’s a reality that informs how we both react to those problems and that privilege.

 “…Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.” Ephesians 2:16 NLT

If the cross doesn’t matter in this issue, it doesn’t matter at all.

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