Paul says we Christians are running a race. Here's what I'm looking at on my run toward Christ.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jackie Robinson, Paul McCartney and the Church

Tonight on PBS is night two of a two part documentary by legendary documentarian Ken Burns about Jackie Robinson.  This is a must watch, it is incredibly good.  The way Burns tells the story of the man who broke baseball's color barrier is so moving and accurate.  Burns brings the story to life and shares the important role that Jackie's wife played in his life.  I highly encourage you to watch either tonight or whenever it is re-aired.

While watching a documentary like this one can't help but think about the ugliness of racism and pointless division.  One can't help but be thrilled by the strong Christ-like character Mr. and Mrs. Robinson showed in the midst of the ugly trials they endured.  And one can't help but wonder how we're doing now.

So, how are we doing now?  Particularly, how is the Church doing in this matter?

Now, I'm hardly in a position to talk about a strategy to improve race relations or the like, but I do want to make a couple of observations and ask a couple of questions.

Martin Luther King Jr. said this, "We must face the fact in America, the church is still the most segregated major institution in America.  At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregate hour in this nation.  This is tragic."

The stats back up Reverend King's statement even today.  So, we're not doing as good a job as we need to be doing.

I understand that some of you live in areas where there just isn't racial diversity, coming from Springville, Iowa I understand that.  But how is your church doing with diversity in any form?  Is your church full of like people?  Or is it white and black skinned people, white and blue color workers, left wing and right wing voters, rich and poor people... is there any diversity in your church?  Any institution can exist and even thrive with a homogenous group of people, one of the miracles of God in the Church is that it will continuously exist and thrive with intense diversity.

The Olympics are nearly upon us and this year they are in Rio.  Four years ago they were in London and they were spectacular.  Four years ago I was deeply moved by the opening ceremony.  Sir Paul McCartney was one of the performers and he sang "Hey Jude".  As he sang "Hey Jude" people from all over the world sang along (I've included a video from this performance below).  The whole world was drawn together by a Beatles song.  People sang in their culture's garb, with their language's accent to a Beatles song.  I was moved because it seemed a foretaste of Heaven when a similar scene will take place.  I was also convicted because a Beatles song was doing a better job of breaking down barriers than most of our local churches.

"After this I looked up and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb."  Revelation 7:9a

The Gospel will bring together people from every type of background without distinction.  It WILL do this guaranteed.  The question is, will your church participate in this now or not?  It is not enough to simply not be a bigot.  Do people from outside your church look in and wonder what could possibly bring that odd grouping of people together?

I want to get more of a foretaste of Heaven here and now.  I want my church to experience more heavenly diversity than it is now.  I mean, there is more today than just a year ago in my church, but I want more.  Pray with me that our local churches have greater diversity and look more like Heaven today.

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