It has been said that “Sunday morning is the most segregated day of the week.” While I am not sure who to credit with first saying it, that reality is certainly still true today. According to the Bible, this is a problem. Ephesians 2:11-22 is one of the clearest calls to the church to pursue and walk in the oneness that was only made possible by the work of Christ. Paul’s call to the church in Ephesians 2 is that we would remember who we were, who we are, and who we are becoming.
Remember who you were
If we are to experience biblical diversity and reconciliation as the church of Christ, it must begin with genuine humility. In verse 12, Paul says we are to remember we were separated, alienated, with no hope, and without God. While this is not encouraging, it is the truth of where we all are apart from the good news of Christ. Apart from Christ, we are separated from God and one another. We are racists. We have prejudices. Our hearts are not for diversity, reconciliation, unity, and oneness. In order to achieve lasting humility and to remember why we need Christ’s help, we must never forget who we were before Christ and who we would be without him. Remember who you are and who you are becoming.
Christ, in his great grace and mercy, entered our hopelessness and gave us hope. He is the only hope we have. Because of Christ, we now get to experience certain hope.
Our certain hope is that we now have been made into one new man with one body and we are all members of God’s beautifully diverse church (Ephesians 2:13-22). Oneness is what Christ has made possible, and is our certain future. We are being built into one temple as a dwelling place for God. The church on earth is to be a living picture of what we are and what we will become. We are not being called to sameness or superficiality. The goal is not simply to have a diverse group of people in a Sunday morning worship gathering. In Christ, we get to display the Kingdom of God here on earth. We want to see this not just once a week, but to celebrate our holy, wonderful differences every day as we live in genuine community together. The goal is diversity in community on mission as a genuine reflection of the Kingdom of God here on earth.
Remembering that leads to action
When my wife asks me to remember to do something for her, she rightly intends for my remembrance to lead to action. If she comes home and says, “Did you remember to pay the phone bill?” and I say, “Yes, beautiful, baby-dumplin’, sweetheart, I remembered, but I didn’t actually pay it,” that is not going to go over well no matter how many pet names I lead with. God intends for our remembrance to lead to action also. With this is mind, I want to offer three practical ways you can take action as you remember.
- Pray. Ask God for help early and more often than you think you should. Ask God to reveal to you where you are racist and prejudiced and then repent. Ask God for clarity and courage and humility around this topic. We will not be changed without him and without prayer. Pray to him continually.
- Intentionally diversify your friend circle. Most people I know and meet have pretty homogenous friendships. I am challenging you to pursue others who are different. Invite someone abundantly different than you (class, culture, and/or ethnicity) into your home for dinner more than once and get to know them, their story, and their perspectives.
- Listen well before (and most likely more than) you speak (Proverbs 17:27-28, James 1:19). No one will go wrong applying this wisdom. However, as a white pastor, I want to especially engage my Anglo brothers and sisters here. Ask a lot of questions. Listen to understand. White privilege is real and the “white” church does well to acknowledge this. Read books and articles outside of your normal selection with a different perspective. However you get your news, listen well, think, and pray before you make assumptions and respond.
The church can and should be leading the way in all things concerning diversity and reconciliation. By the power of God, we are doing just that in some places and we will continue to grow in areas where we are not. Great progress has been made, but there is a long way to go. Because of Christ, I am hopeful for all that lies ahead.