I enjoyed a fantastic lunch today with Manuel Calderon, our Hispanic minister here at Legacy. We’re planning a bi-lingual worship assembly for next Sunday in an effort to better integrate our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters into our church family at-large. And it’s facsinating to me that the barriers between us—the Anglos and the Hispanics—have much more to do with culture than with language.
They all speak English!
Granted, some communicate in English better than others. But of the 35-40 members of our “Spanish-speaking” congregation, only one or two speak exclusively Spanish. It’s not the language that divides us as much as it is our different cultures, our different socio-economic situations, our different “classes,” our different colors, our different backgrounds. We are increasingly speaking the same language, yet our Hispanic brothers and sisters remain segregated from the Anglos in our Christian churches.
You know, “segregation” is an ugly, ugly word in the history of this country. We have argued and revolted and debated and fought and bled and died to eradicate segregation in our larger society. And we’re still fighting. Because it’s such an awful word. It’s such a horrible distortion of what it is we claim to stand for.
But ‘segregation” seems to be perfectly OK in our Christian settings. And I don’t think we can be perfectly OK with that.
We have black congregations and white congregations and nobody seems to care. We have white congregations with 30 Hispanics meeting by themselves in a back room and nobody seems to care. For some reason it’s approved as OK. It’s brushed aside as “the way things are” or simply ignored as “the way it’s always been.” It’s excused as “the way they want it.”
Is it the way Christ Jesus wants it?
The early church was scandalous in the ways it welcomed all classes, all cultures, all genders, all languages and dialects into its fellowship. We’ve managed to avoid that scandal by segregating ourselves. The early church had to work through many difficulties, had to learn how to sacrifice and serve and look out for the needs of others as they welcomed all comers. We’ve avoided that hardship and the lessons and the spiritual growth that come with it by keeping to ourselves.
As church leaders, we should never wet our fingers and stick them up in the air to see which way the wind’s blowing. We should attempt to change the wind!
I don’t know about you, but Colossians 3:11 means something to me.
“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”
Galatians 3:28 sounds like truth to me.
“Their is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
We pray for Christian unity. We long for the day when all our differences are ultimately rendered meaningless. We anticipate that great banquet when all the nations and languages and tribes and peoples are gathered around our Lord’s table. We yearn for the realization of the perfect union we share in Christ Jesus.
I think if we’re praying for something, we ought to be working for it too. I think if we see something as God’s eternal will, we ought to be doing something about it.
We’re trying at Legacy. We’re trying. We’re not perfect. We’re not moving nearly quickly enough. It’s messy. It’s hard. But we’re trying.