What Stands in the Way of Ethnic Unity?

This week, Pastor J.D. answers a question in his recent sermon: “What stands in the way of ethnic unity?”

Show Notes:

  • First of all, Satan.
    • The next several chapters of Ephesians are all about how the demonic powers aligned against the church. Satan hates this kind of unity, especially in the church. So, you can be sure he’s going to oppose it.
    • Let me tell you how he might do this to you:
      • He’s going to suggest stuff to you this week about it being too hard.
      • He’s going to whisper into some of your ears this week that this is all about politics even though I have said literally nothing about that.
      • So, be aware who your enemy is in this and resist that Satanic voice
  • Second, pride.
    • Whenever we talk about this, what makes it difficult is it cuts all of us down at the core of our pride
    • Beware where your own personal pride kicks into gear.
    • Church unity, Paul says, is built only on humility.
  • Third, preference.
    • Our cultural preferences are not wrong. We all have them. It’s just sometimes for the sake of unity, we set them aside to help someone else feel more comfortable.
      • Vance Pitman: “The way to know you are part of a truly multiethnic church is that you often feel uncomfortable.” Many of us, he says, say we want a multi-cultural church but we really only want a multi-colored one, with a bunch of people with different colored faces all doing things our way.
      • People sometimes say to me, “Well, I don’t like it when we do that in worship.” And I want to say, “Well, maybe this whole thing is not about what you like. If you want to be somewhere where it’s all about you, go pay $800 for a night at the RitzCarlton where it will be all, entirely, exclusively about you. But this church is about the glory of Jesus and the urgency of the Great Commission, and so when you come here, that’s what you should expect it to be about.”
  • Fourth, naivete.
    • One of the things that my friends of color tell me is that many of us in the majority culture don’t think we have a culture. Other people have cultures; ours is the standard against which all others are measured. Or sometimes we refer to other people as having ethnicities.
    • I hate to burst your bubble, but white, Caucasian is an ethnicity and has its own cultural perspective. We have our own, particular views of conflict resolution, romance, parenting and child-rearing; money; dress; music; time; respectfulness; family and so many other things.
    • Some cultural perspectives are different; some are wrong; and some are right. The least we can do is work hard to understand the cultural perspectives we all bring into this place.
  • Fifth, poor listening skills.
    For a lot of us, when it comes to discussions like these, our poor
    listening skills really begin to display themselves. James in the Bible tells us that we should be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,” and If there were ever a place for us to apply this verse, it is in this area.

    • Yes, there’s a place for you to speak. “Be slow to speak” doesn’t mean “never speak,” it just means that you listen far more than you talk.
    • So, that raises these questions. When it comes to talking about this stuff:
      • Do you seek to understand more than you seek to be understood?
      • Here’s the question: What if we had a church where people listened to each other like that–where we gave each other the benefit of the doubt in these situations?
      • And before you come back at them with a solution, or a reason why their pain is illegitimate, to at least validate it and sit with them in it. That’s what love is.
      • We don’t want to be a church that focuses so much on this relationship (vertical) that we neglect the pain of each other here (horizontal). Paul tells us the gospel compels us to bear each other’s burdens, and that starts with listening to each other.
  • Sixth, ignorance of our history.
    • Many of us in the majority culture have proven woefully ignorant of how the racial situation in our country came to be. We barely understand what things like the Jim Crow laws were or what kind of societal disparities they created.
    • I DON’T mean we embrace revisionist history like the 1619 project or adopt CRT approaches to politics or education—those approaches are often as worldly and problematic as what they are trying to correct. That’s not what I’m suggesting here.
    • But don’t let the existence of other revisionist histories keep you from reading things that challenge your own revisionist view of history, which is what a lot of us learned growing up. Of all people, Christians should be willing to embrace the truth, and it shouldn’t surprise us to learn that many of our ancestors were depraved sinners. That’s what our gospel teaches us! We should acknowledge the truth when it comes to things like the history of
      the church.
    • All cultures, all of them, have wrong assumptions and moral blindspots, and one of the values of being in relationship is you can point out those blindspots.
    • Some of my cultural assumptions may make me blind to injustices happening around me that I’ve grown comfortable with because they don’t affect me directly. Others should point those out to me.
    • We need to be willing to listen to each other and stand against unrighteousness wherever we see it, whether or not those concerns are usually associated with “our tribe.”
  • As we’ve said, in here, we don’t primarily identify with the elephant or the donkey, but with the Lamb—and he’s on the side of ‘all things justice’.
  • Y’all, is there any wonder our society can’t accomplish this? Our society wants this, but they can’t achieve it. But, as Paul explains in Ephesians, what the law is unable to accomplish, the power of new life accomplishes in the gospel.

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