Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Taking In Strangers

"Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you...I was a stranger and you took me in...." (Matthew 25:34-35).

The greatest mistake minority churches make is that of trying to teach culture as a part of faith. This is a struggle within the African-American Church, as well as most ethnic churches founded within American in the last few decades. It is not that teaching culture is wrong, but the church is not the place for teaching culture. Culture is like politics in the church, it is divisive and exclusive. The most sincere Christians flinch in church when culture is promoted. Church is for discipleship and worship, not a place to teach culture and divisiveness.

Can you imagine an Anglo-American Church promoting the KKK, teaching white culture classes, and promoting the white race? Such a church would bring protest from various cultural groups, religious and political, to protest at its fronts doors, and rightly so. An African-American man shared a thought some months back that has stuck in my mind. He said, "Any organization that promotes a single race is a 'racist' organization." I believe he is right and I believe this applies to every Church.

There are many dangers single race churches face. When a church promotes a single race, even its own, it both proclaims itself as racist and becomes a breeding ground for racism. Churches need to example for the world an openness for all races and cultures; it is a part of what Scripture teaches as "agape - love." Jesus exampled "agape - love" which simply means, "no matter what you have done to me, I want the best for your." I long to see pastors lead the charge on taking a stand against nonfaith issues that divide our churches. Churches that promote culture offend.

Blended cultural families are not welcome in such churches, and in our culture of interracial and cross-cultural marriage, cross-racial and cross-cultural adoption, and high diversity in the workplace, churches insistent on teaching culture have either plateau or are declining. I remember well an African-American woman, Christy, who joined a previous church I served. She shared that after she married an Anglo-American, they were not welcome in her church, and they were not welcome in his church, but they found our church and felt loved and accepted.

Increasingly, pastors of these congregations are seen as bigots and racists within the mass population of their cities, country, and world. Pastors, evangelist, and missionaries with a "God-heart" will not allow such brazen racism to be a part of their ministry. Church is not for teaching culture (nor politics), but if your church touches on culture (or politics), it should be to celebrate it; churches that celebrate culture must be sure to celebrate all cultures represented in their church and community. Jesus said, ‘I was a stranger...” Chances are good that if you are reading this Blog, you are a Gentile. To accept Jesus means you must accept someone of a different race and ethnicity.

Well that’s my coffee for today. I welcome your comments and look forward to hearing from you on this issue.


Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. As a blended family, I find it difficult to feel accepted in most churches.

MZG said...

Without a doubt any group that promotes one race only, for whatever reason is racist. the very term racist means:A person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others. This has been the topic of hot discussion and is reffered to as the new racism in America.