Mother of Michael Brown during a press conference in Ferguson, MO
You’d have to live in a cave to not be aware of what’s been happening in Ferguson, MO for the past week. The tragic shooting death of 18-year old Michael Brown has not only captured the attention of all the news media, it has also reminded us that we haven’t made as much progress in race relations as we sometimes think. There is a racial divide in this nation, and it’s ugly, mean and devilish.
But it’s not at all unlike the world into which Jesus came. Then, the divide wasn’t so much based on skin pigmentation; it was Jew (God’s chosen) versus Gentile (heathens). It’s been said that “In the mind of a first-century Jew, Gentiles (Africans, Romans, Greeks, Syrians, Asians, etc.) were created to fuel the fires of hell. When a Jew called a Gentile “uncircumcised,” he spit it. It was a name of profound contempt.”
If a Jew married a Gentile, the Jewish parents held a funeral service for their child. In their eyes, their child was dead.
On the flip side, Gentiles regarded Jews to be subhuman. Historically, the Jews have been an oppressed people, living under the thumb of one Gentile nation after another (e.g., Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome).
In all of human history, there has never been so much animosity, hatred, and violence between two groups of people as there has been between the Jew and the Gentile.
But Jesus came into that world with a message that transformed people. He did that by His death on the Cross as we read in Ephesians 2:14-16. Notice: He made peace between Jew & Gentile, removing the hostility between us, by “creating in Himself one new people from the two groups”. In other words, The Church transcends human prejudice and demonstrates the power of the Cross by showing the world that Jew & Gentile, black & white, male & female, young & old are all part of the same body of Christ and that we can love each other, live for a common cause, and serve together as one new people, the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-generational Church that HE died to produce!
It’s sad that 11 a.m. on Sunday morning is still the most-segregated hour of the week in America, because the world is still waiting to see that ‘one new people’ in action, and every time a Ferguson erupts, it’s a reminder that Christians & churches in America have got to get it right before we can expect our society to get it right.
Attending a multi-cultural church is NOT just a nice thing to do; and just feeling good about ourselves because we worship with people of another color isn’t the goal. It’s catching the vision that Jesus died in order to remove the hostility between races, so that the world could see HIS purpose and His design for all mankind, when we truly love and serve as one new people whose primary identity is not based on the color of our skin but on the Lord of our life.
Stand up and shine, CLC!