I have done lots of stupid things in my life. I remember stealing a 5.00 bill from my mother that she had left on the counter of our kitchen. I was probably 4 or something like that. I still remember her asking me if I had taken any money off the counter. I lied to her and told her that I had not. Well, to make a long story short, she had caught me in my lie, as most mothers seem to do, and I was punished for it. That was pretty stupid.
When I was in elementary school, I read how the Jewish people were killed in masses simply because some wacko guy named Hitler wanted to make a ‘pure race.’ 6 million Jewish people were killed because they simply were Jews by birth. If that was not enough, I also read how America (the land of equal rights) hated people because of the color of their skin. If you were black, you could not sit in the front of the bus because that was a privileged place where white people sat. Nobody wanted black people to drink from the same water fountains or even eat at the same restaurant solely because of the color of their skin. That was pretty stupid.
I thought today we have left all of that ’stupid stuff’ in the past but I was wrong. The stupid thing about it is: It has continued throughout its history and seriously needs to be addressed. It might surprise some to read that there is still a race issue in America that has continued far too long. Do not worry about calling your congressman. It is not in a specific workplace or a school. I am not talking about the Imus issue. The source of this racism is closer than anyone would like to admit. It is found in the American Evangelical Churches most people attend every Sunday of the week.
There are churches today that are solely black and there are churches that are solely white. The problem extends further than a white/black situation though. We also have churches that are solely Korean, Latin American, and Jamaican. In a country where we believe we are ‘One nation under God,’ we find the Church separated by race, material status, and even age. Because of this, we are crippled as the body of Christ.
Each culture possesses valuable resources and aspects of worship that would enhance our walk with Jesus. I am sure this is not the most comfortable topic on most people’s minds. We are comfortable and we can relate to those who are apart of our private culture.
I remember the first time I stepped foot into a black church in Philadelphia, PA. As I looked around, I saw that I was one of four white people in the whole church of about 300 or so people. Within moments though, my nervousness was transformed into a love that can only be experienced when we engage in the culture of the black church. I had never heard worship music like that before. It was contagious. The harmonies and the upbeat music running through my veins as I listened to a gospel choir of 40 singing their hearts out for the Lord. The pastor stood up and began to preach. And I mean, he preached. The man could have filled a bathtub full of the sweat that was pouring down his face. In his message, I heard a love that I had never heard preached in a white church before and a ‘call to Jesus’ that was powerful. As I was leaving the church, I was welcomed back by several young black men in three-piece suits as we walked out the door. That was an experience I will never forget or ever pass up if the opportunity is given.
The book of Revelation paints for us an amazing picture of what heaven is going to be like: A place where people from tribes, tongues, and nations will worship God around His throne in glory. What an amazing picture! If we do not break free from this bondage of separation, we are no better than the past events people like Martin Luther King Jr. and others fought for: Freedom.
So what is the challenge? The challenge I am giving the American Evangelical Church is a call to be led by the Spirit of the Living and active God whom we are called to worship in Spirit and in Truth together as the whole body of Christ. It should not be a challenge though. It should be wired in our DNA from the time of our rebirth in Christ. God has called us first and foremost to love Him. The second and most important command is to love others as ourselves.
How do we accomplish the challenge? Visit other faith communities you have never been to before. Meet people there and invite them to have fellowship at your house. Learn the names of the pastors that teach there and ask them how you can pray for them and their faith community. Share the vision of Revelation with them and ask them to come on this journey with you. Ask your church leaders to plan a Sunday service where several faith communities can worship together (perhaps each pastor and worship team taking an active role in the service) and worship together in the presence of God’s creation. If you have a large park in the area, pick that place. After the service, gather together and share in food and fellowship with one another. Build relationships together and learn from one another. If we could do things like this, perhaps we might actually embody the picture Revelation speaks of here on earth as it will be in heaven. The time is now.
To do nothing and continue to be a separated body of Christ is just stupid.