I’m going to write this post in ten minutes. It’s going to sound crazy. Be forewarned. And I’m disabling comments because I don’t want to have a big race argument. (Although, I must, say, I’m really pleased on the whole with how kind people generally are in the comments on this blog toward one another. I just know how posts like this can attract the opposite.)
Here’s where I bring the crazy:
If you live in a city with multiple races (and most of us do), be part of a church that’s truly multi-racial.
Jesus said unity is how people would know that God sent him. But we’re not unified. Racially divided churches are a scandal. This is because they are an argument that the Kingdom of God doesn’t quite work.
Our culture has no answers on race, only more indignation, conflicting narratives, and violence to offer. The church – which is supposed to be a family – is to be an outpost of the Kingdom. We should be the ones saying, “Here’s how living together can look, differences and all.”
We’re supposed to be the salt, the preserving agent. Instead, we offer more of the same. Parallel church cultures, parallel families, each separately proclaiming the King of unity.
If this Jesus stuff is real, unity should happen. I happen to think it is real, so I’m naive enough to think we could make this work if we were desperate.
We say we want “unity” – practically everybody says that – but we don’t really want it too badly. Our actions betray our real beliefs, and our real beliefs are apparent to a world which sees no appreciable difference on race, no real answers, from us Jesus-talking people.
People will come up with a million reasons why this re-shaping church thing shouldn’t really happen, not in their own lives, of course. “Our church is awesome,” or “But we do have a black couple that comes,” or “But I get paid by our church to do such-and-such…”
I get it. I know. Been there. All those places. But the worst excuse is, “It’s not THAT important.” Unity is worth asking God for, apparently, in the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s a last request. That’s important. Our culture knows it, too.
Desperate times, desperate measures. Perhaps your church leadership will see your desire to see unity happen in this way, and they’ll send you out in love with their blessing. Perhaps it’ll be to start a gathering with a mixed group of people, if the existing churches in your area are largely segregated. I don’t know.
People say they want unity. They say they want “radical”. But when it comes to a fundamental re-thinking of our church structures and arrangements, and our own comfort, things get less radical really fast. I understand that.
Let’s at least admit it: The people of Jesus are not, by and large, functioning as true brothers and sisters, and suspect another program or get-together’s not going to do it. We need to actually know each other, be in each other’s lives, and make it work.
We need to ask God to redefine our “us” to mean His family, not our racial group, and make Jesus real to a world that is clearly without a chance otherwise. Why am I talking about this now? I had a death in the family. My brothers and sisters died at a Bible study the other night.
Maybe it’s time.
Maybe it involves you changing something.
Maybe there’ll be no more stories like, “He walked into a black church Bible study and…”
Maybe there’s a deep sadness in that story before we even hear the crime.
Crazy. I know.