It’s been said that the most segregated time in America is Sunday morning. How sad is that? We go and church shop, looking for buildings full of like-minded individuals who dress like us, look like us, practice the same customs as us and listen to the same music as us.
We have made church to be a place of comfort when in actuality, it should be one the least comfortable places we go all week. It should be a place where God continually calls us to something greater and bigger—a deeper holiness; a more extravagant worship than last week; a greater depth of inner-healing; a conviction to confess something to another.
It should be a place we choose to attend based on the discomfort of having to interact with people who are different than us in some way, whether it be culture, language or something else. It shouldn’t be a place we choose to attend because it has cupholders, theater seating and a lack of the Holy Spirit so things don’t get too weird, heavy or off-schedule.
Our society has made “preference” a synonym of church. Not only are we segregated racially, but in age as well. And we encourage it! First service is for those who prefer hymns while second service is for those who prefer upbeat, modern music. The older, wiser people head to first service while the younger, brasher people head to the second and everyone suffers the death of segregation. If we can’t agree on a way of doing church together, we’ll just host multiple churches inside of one.
Maybe those two or three different churches can pretend to be one church when they do mission projects, but otherwise it seems important to keep them away from each other in order to “keep the peace.”
But that’s not peace. Peace isn’t ignorance. Peace isn’t getting your way. Peace is the man or woman who wears earplugs during the music because they don’t like the genre or how loud it is. That’s the kind of person that desires to embrace a people different than themselves. That’s the kind of person who is more about others than themselves.
Church is meant to rattle a few pews because God’s love is a radiant, passionate, all-consuming, dangerous shockwave to the soul that you may never recover from if it warms your heart and turns you into an uncontrollable explosion that people feel quaking under their feet, just like it did to the saints and revivalists of old. That is the power of God. Stagnant comfort is the power of preference, and those who worship it will reap its rewards.
Which death do you prefer to die? The death of a radical giving of your all to Christ or the death of this hell we call personal preference that ensures us that the church around us will look just like us? It’s our choice if we’re going to make the Church what it’s called to be—a living, breathing, multi-cultural, multi-faceted bride of Christ—or a comfortable club we bought a membership to.
It’s time to let it go. For the sake of the Kingdom, we have to be at peace and become one. For if we can love the Church in all of her differences, then we can love those outside of the Church in all of their differences.
Soon we’ll learn to transform our mind to the mind of Christ so that sinners flood our feet with tears (Luke 7:36-38); so that tax-collecting robbers want to spend time with us (Luke 19:1-10); so that we don’t treat a Samaritan woman like a half-breed minority like the rest of society does (John 4:9, 27), or as a sexual obstacle to overcome as many Christian men in today’s society do. We can live the kind of life that makes a woman who has been divorced five times run to grab her friends so that they might meet us (John 4:29).
We can live the kind of life that protects the lives of sinners from the threats of death that religion makes (John 8:1-11). We can live the kind of life that looks like one nailed to a cross on behalf of others.
If we live this kind of humility out, we will live a life of peace—for this is the kind of life that does not see others as different, strange or stereotyped, but simply as masters to be served—even if they betray us in just a few short hours. These are the eyes that are blinded by the love of Jesus and yet, somehow opened far beyond that of those with 20/20 vision.
There must be peace among us. We must become what Jesus expected His church to be. Jesus is not coming back for a white bride, but a diverse one! He’s coming back for a bride whose genetics show signs of every race—one that is at peace within herself and not at war—one that represents what Paul called “the fullness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:25).
So let’s all set aside the unique privileges we have in our lives, view the people of this world as our brothers and sisters, serve them and show them the one and only Prince of Peace.
This article is an excerpt from Jamin Bradley’s upcoming book, A Taste of Jesus: Growing the Fruit of the Spirit. Used with permission.