If you give a man a megaphone...
This Saturday, we were honored with the opportunity to serve alongside two incredible groups of college students. Amidst the business and banter experienced during a Workday that included intentionally painting walls and unintentionally painting carpets, I could not help but recognize that an all too familiar social grouping had occurred. All the white students worked on one side of the room, all the black students on the other. I curiously approached a small group of black males and asked: "How do you feel right now about race relations on your campus?" One male replied "They are terrible!" as the rest of the group nodded their heads in agreement. He continued "We market ourselves as a diverse university but everything is segregated". I responded to these strong yet wounded young men with a message of hope, patience, and love. But, can I be honest for a minute. Internally, my heart was deeply grieved because nearly a decade ago I was at that same university experiencing the same anxiety and saying the same words, but not to the same degree.
My deepest regret from our conversation was my inability to offer the group a heavenly community in the church where they could come and experience a reconciled body of believers biblically pursuing unity in diversity. We should expect the kingdoms of this world to stratify along economic, racial, gender and other arbitrary metric systems. But, God forbid that Christ's people would participate or proliferate the same. We are invited in Christ to a continual life of reflection and repentance in which we have the unique opportunity to lament all that is broken in us and the world and humbly ask for courage to see Christ more clearly and love our brothers more dearly.
Transformation occurs as we walk and serve together in community that is wounded yet hopeful. I did not possess a Christian "easy button" for these young men to press that would assuage the anger and hurt they felt. What I did have to offer, I freely gave and now give to you: Jesus is Lord and we are not. We have major issues, but as we walk humbly together with the great reconciler, segregation should become more and more a non-existent reality. His is the Kingdom of Justice. Hope. Patience. Love. Press on with me. -Ernest