For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Today I sat and listened to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech that he gave at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. 51 years ago. The thing that I appreciate the most about Dr. King’s speech is his call for unity. He was calling on our country to recognize the value, dignity, rights, and liberty of every American citizen. Now I am not a politician or a civil rights leader. I am a pastor, a preacher of the gospel. So when I listen to this speech my attention is steered more toward the progress of the Church in this matter. When I look at the state of unity within the community of faith I recognize that we still have much work to do when it comes down to living as one in Christ. Race is the usually the first thing that comes to our minds when we talk about unity but race is not our only obstacle. There are walls of separation that divide us based on socio-economic status, profession, political party affiliation, denomination, tradition, favorite football team, etc.
We enjoy our homogeneous comfort so much that we are content to stay in it and move around in circles where everything is just how we think it should be and where everyone thinks like we think. To paraphrase my friend Tyler, whenever we enter times of tension or disagreement we retreat to our “safe zones”. From these “safe zones” we pick up our premeditated responses and lob verbal/written grenades at each other. You don’t have to be the smartest kid in the classroom to see that this is not helpful to the cause of Christ-centered unity. So instead of engaging in gracious truthful dialogue as believers we begin to look at each other through lenses of suspicion. Sometimes our suspicion morphs into full blown distrust and offense. The body remains divided and the cause of the gospel and the display of God’s love in Christian community is greatly hindered.
I realize that we have very serious issues to deal with in our day. I recognize that some of the things that divide us stem from acts of injustice past and present. I am not asking anyone to ignore any injustice. However, I do believe that when the Church speaks it should be with one voice. One voice made comprised of many voices of those from different races, nationalities, cultural backgrounds, economic status, etc. I believe that the platform from which we should seek to establish justice and equity should be founded upon God’s grace and God’s truth. The gospel of Jesus Christ should be the driving force of our efforts to make the wrongs of our culture right.
That’s why I’m still dreaming.
I’m going to continue dreaming. I’m going to continue praying. I’m going to continue preaching. I’m going to continue reaching out and building relationships with people who are not like me. I’m going to continue to believe in the power of the gospel to break down our pride, our suspicion, to heal our wounds, to bring genuine Christ-centered reconciliation within the Lord’s body, to help us seek to understand each other, and to join us together based on our identity in Christ alone.
What if we sought to live out the glorious truth set forth in Paul’s letter to the christians in Galatia? What if the perfect person and work of Jesus Christ became the standard by which we judge one another? What if the atoning work of Christ to make us one with the Father became the foundation of all of our relationships? You see there is another call to live out the true meaning our creed but its not based on the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution. This call is based on the truth set forth in the Scriptures. Its based on the salvific redemptive work of God in Christ. Our reality is that in Christ we are one.
I’m still dreaming that we would awaken to this amazing truth and seek to live it out by God’s grace for God’s glory.