I recently read a news article that, in essence, claimed that the “experiment” of racial unity in churches was dead. Well, not where I live!
I recognize we have deep, historical roots of pride and injustice. I recognize we have lots of work still to do until we “all come to unity of faith and the knowledge of Son of God”; until we fulfill the prayer of Jesus, “that they would be one Father as You and I are one” on earth as it is in heaven. But the “experiment” is not dead. These “statistics” and “social observations” are non-scientific; these individuals see what they want to see. They claim churches are homogenous. Well, they haven’t been to my church yet! We are far from our vision and far from perfection, but we are on the way and picking up the pace. I feel like we are becoming a church for those “in-between”.
During a motivational seminar, I was recently reminded of the “expectancy theory” that states, “whatever you focus on expands”. Scripture presents a corollary principal: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.” What we give voice to, influences our hearts and minds. We plant words, like seeds, into our souls and those ideas produce fruit in our attitudes and actions. Ideas become institutions; words shape environment; concepts mold culture, thoughts forms systems.
If we give voice to disunity, it will consume our society. And no house divided against itself can stand. It inevitably will fall. If we give voice to unity, it will heal our society. As we learn from Galatians 6, we harvest the fruit of the seed we sow. If we talk about unity, it will grow.
Negative voices are constantly bombarding us with the problems of race relations, division and such in our country. There is place for this as it can, when executed correctly, bring awareness, stir holy indignation, and arouse action. Like an accurate diagnosis of a disease can lead to a life-saving cure, examination of our social problem can lead to transformation. But diagnosis without prognosis is only disappear. To vent anger or spew criticism, leaves our “patient” with no hope. There is a vast difference between, “You have a tumor, but if we act now we can save your life” and “You have a tumor, there is nothing we can do.” The later is what the divisive words are sowing. you mean well, you are making an observation, but you lack the sight beyond your experience, the hope beyond your world. I refuse to stay there!
These divisive words are both the cause and the engine of our current state of division. Rather than helping us move towards a cure, they are exacerbating the problem. Our words, often on the news and in social media, are doing great harm.
I am committing to be a voice of unity; one who carries words of life on his tongue; one whose speech builds bridges.
I want to sow seeds into our culture that will both heal the wounds of the past and create the future we need and desire. If we want a different future, we must speak different words. I invite you, friend, to do the same.
Cut out sentences that contrast “us” and “them” and starting talking about “we”. Elevate your generalities to specifics. Who are “they” anyways!? And not everyone on the left or the right, the white or the black, the rich or the poor, the urban or the suburban are the same. Transition from speaking about problems, to offering solutions. Criticism and cyncism are easy; strategic solutions require work, faith, and love. Stop judging people’s motives while giving yourself grace. You know what I mean; it sounds like, “They really want…”, “They don’t really care about…”. Let’s be honest, we cannot see someone’s heart, we can only see their actions. Take responsibility for your part–we cannot speak of another’s responsibility (i.e. “they should…”), without also speaking of our own. Cut out derogatory language–we never have the right to speak evil of or curse another person. As God says, “Do not speak evil of one another” (James 4:11).
Speak words of honor about others. Highlight the best in people. Assume people have something to teach you; ask questions and actually listen and consider. Emphasize our similarities, connections, and oneness. Value differences–different perspectives, colors, gifts, and personalities. Our differences can be the way forward; can be the weapon of unity rather than the weapon of disunity. Share testimonies of those who are succeeding rather than failing. Celebrate the victories, even small wins. Have conversations about solutions rather than problems.
So, I declare that God’s vision for a unified church will become a reality; the prayer of Jesus will be answered on earth as it is in heaven. And the church will become light again. A hope to the world; a testimony of God’s brilliant, loving work of redemption.
I see leaders rising up with noble hearts, ready to serve the people rather than their own self-ambitions. I see leaders who will lead the “streams” into one river, knowing that “all things are ours in Christ”. I see walls of offense, fear and pride coming down. I see a church that lives out the vision the Apostle Paul had when he called for “brotherly love” among rich and poor, slave and free, male and female, Jew and non-Jew. I see a church on earth as it is in heaven: the redeemed of the Lord representing every tribe, language, people-group, and ethnicity, which implies an accentuation of our differences, a celebration of our uniqueness. Singing, dressing, talking, relating in our own cultural flair–a unity in diversity, a beautiful mosaic of worship to our Maker, God and Father.
How is this possible!? Honor is the key to unity. I’ll have to talk about that in another devo because I am out of time.
Join me in being a voice of unity. Let’s speak life and sow seeds into our culture that will both heal the wounds of the past and create the future we need and desire.