Saturday, June 28, 2008

Grace or Race?

One of the wonderful gifts of being President of a Seminary is that I have the opportunity to worship in many different churches. As I go from church to church, it is an observation that churches are more segregated than any group except perhaps the KKK or the Black Panthers. Very few churches have ever glimpsed what John the Revelator saw and wrote. “I looked 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 7:9, NIV).

It seems overly obvious that God, in his perfection, will return when heaven is complete. God, it seems to me, will not overcrowd heaven, nor leave the streets vacant. In His sense of completeness and creativity, God will ensure that heaven is perfect. According to John, this perfection calls for the assembly of worshippers from every nation, tribe, people, and language. Any way you address this scene, the worshippers are multi-cultural, multi-racial, and multi-lingual. This is God's idea of perfect worship!

Yet, the church continues to mirror the comic's equivalence of inbreeding hillbillies, keeping the faith in the family of brothers and sisters, and an occasional cousin. When it comes to the twenty-first century church, it seems to be more about race than about grace. This unbiblical teaching crosses cultural and racial lines and has steered the church along a path of segregation, although God calls the church to lead the way to racial unity. Congregations are often so proud of their heritage and accomplishments that they put forth no effort to reach other races or cultures. Other congregations seem content to gather in their stained glass buildings for moments of racial respite from the world. Still other congregations, while bound together by language, divide themselves by nationality or social status.

Kingdom people will look beyond race, culture, and social standing and create an atmosphere within the church that invites guest from all arenas of life. Kingdom people certainly wish to worship with God's children who are unlike them, people of a different culture, a different language, and a different nation. It is important to God, therefore it should be important to His church, and it should be important to every believer within the Christian Faith. Each of us must assist the church in moving beyond its prejudice and racism, and embrace true agape love.

Not only is coffee better with God, it is better when consumed with people of different experience and backgrounds who love the Lord. So let us get with God's program and willingly assist our churches to be more like heaven.


pastortony said...

It would be interesting to read a study concerning the church world-wide. Do they have the same problem of segregation in other parts of the world that we have here?

When you speak of race of grace are you referring to the church in America or world-wide? One thing is for certain: Heaven will be the place where we get it right!

Pastor Tony

MZG said...

It has always been amazing to me how much time we can spend worrying about a black church, white church, a Korean church and so on.....because if you recall Jesus was none of the above. We should be more worried about treating the churches as God's houses and not hangouts or businesses then there would not be this issue.

Anonymous said...

Excellent Eddie....thanks for keeping it real


Frank said...

Dr G

In my many associations that I have been blessed with during my 16years of military service I can honestly say that I have brothers and sisters of different races, backgrounds, economic abilities, and religions. These bonds were developed by simply being open to sharing life's ups and downs.

Counterintuitive (and sad) that secular organizations have surpassed the Church of Jesus Christ when it comes to race...


Dr. Eddie G. Grigg said...

Pastor Tony, it is my experience that "grace or race" definitely applies to America, but sadly this is a global issue.

Anonymous said...

The coffee is good - like your inspiration - BSK