Let’s Live Out the Unity We Have in Christ
So how do we, children of God, begin to live out what is already true of us in Christ? Do we need to plan strategically about how to make our local congregations welcoming and inviting for people of different races and ethnicities. Yes. But as important as that is, I do not believe it is where we start. We want to begin with organizational changes, but God always begins with individuals. We want to change the Church. He longs to change our hearts. As individual members of the Church, our motivation has to be living out the implications of the gospel for the glory of God.
Jesus prayed for us to be brought to complete unity so that the world would know that He was sent by the Father (John 17:23). Jesus died so that we could be reconciled to God and each other through the cross (Ephesians 2:16). We have all been baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jew or Gentile made up of many parts (I Corinthians 12:12-13). And one day before the throne and in front of the lamb there will be an innumerable throng wearing white robes from every nation, tribe, people and language worshiping our great, majestic God (Revelation 7:9-10).
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:3-7 NIV)
We are called by God to preserve the unity that has been established in Christ and to show it on this side of eternity. There is only one true Church. There is no such thing as the black church, white church, Asian or Hispanic church. There is only the blood bought church of Jesus Christ of which every Christian is a member. We are one body – Christ’s.
There is only One Spirit that enlivens this one body to eternal life. All Christians have one hope of eternal life and enjoying God in resurrection glory. We have One Lord, Jesus Christ and we have One baptism where all believers are baptized into one body (1 Cor. 12:13). And we have One God who we worship and one Father that we relate to as His dearly loved children. The Christian church is ‘One body’ with many congregations that meet throughout the world.
This one Church is comprised of multitudes of people who speak different languages and is spread throughout all nations of the world. This makes it impossible for us all to worship God together in this present age. So until Christ returns for His bride there will always be many separate congregations. But for those of us Christians who are living in the same neighborhoods and communities and speak the same language why are we doing everything we can to worship God along racial and ethnic lines? Should we not do everything we can, through the power the Spirit supplies, to show the world around us the reconciling power of the gospel of Jesus Christ? For the Bible says that ‘…the Kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.’ (1 Corinthians 4:20)
From Segregation to Living the Dream
Are we willing to confess and repent of our sins to God and each other of racism, prejudice and exalting our comfort and traditions above Christ and His word? If so, I believe that God is ready to hear our prayers, forgive our sins and heal the hatred and racial tension in our nation. Are we willing to do whatever the Spirit calls us to do regardless of the cost? Will we live out and pass on the implications of the gospel to the next generation? They are growing up in a world that is increasingly multi-racial and multi-ethnic. Or will we continue to live in a way that that makes them think that the church is irrelevant and that ‘tolerance’ is greater than God’s love?
We who have been reconciled to God and each other by the blood of Jesus Christ are called to live out our new identity in Christ before a watching world that is without hope and without God. When we the Church live in a manner that is worthy of His calling, the world sees Jesus more clearly. The only answer for racism and the only place where real hope and healing can be found is Jesus Christ. He is the head of the Church, which is His body.
Fifty years from now will it still be said that the most segregated hour(s) of Christian America is when they gather together for church or will these modified words of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech, ‘I Have A Dream’, ring true of us.
“And when this happens,…we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing…, "One at last! One at last! Thank God Almighty, we are One at last!" (please note changes in bold, the word one was put where the word free was originally used)"[i]
My prayer is that the Church will truly be living the dream…
[i] Martin Luther King's I have a dream speech August 28 1963 (I replaced the word Free with One)