We’ve come a long way from a time when some people actually owned other people and when Jim Crow laws were enforced to maintain separation between humans having varying degrees of skin pigmentation. No longer do we segregate black and white people from each other by refusing to allow them to use the same public schools, restaurants, restrooms, drinking fountains, and public transportation. However, there remains a remnant of segregation yet today, and it is manifested in of all places…our churches…and on of all days…Sunday, the Lord’s day!
Why is it that we can eat together, go to school together, and share a water fountain but we cannot go to church together? Why do “black churches” and “white churches” still exist today? Oh, I know that demographics can account for an “all white church” or an “all black church,” but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about communities in which churches exist within a “stones throw” of each other and one is “all black” and the other is “all white.”
Isaiah prophetically described the nature of the kingdom of God in Isaiah 11:1-9. He said it would be a kingdom characterized by a wolf dwelling with a lamb, a calf with a lion, a leopard with a goat, and a child playing by a cobra’s den and not being harmed. In other words, by way of application, people of “warring” backgrounds would come together in the kingdom of God and be at peace with each other. The gospel that called them to peace and love would be greater than the prejudices and hatred that once divided them. In fact, isn’t this what the apostle Paul said in Ephesians 2:16? In the body of Christ, both Jew and Gentile who had the baggage of hundreds of years of segregation between each themselves, would come together and be one church. What a display of the gospel’s power!
Someone may say, “Black churches are better at reaching black people, and white churches are better at reaching white people, so what’s the problem?” Well first of all, how far do we want to run with such a “church model?” Think of the implications. Black and white aren’t the only segments by which one might wish to divide the church. But secondly, doesn’t an integrated church, no longer shackled by prejudices and hatreds, practice and preach a more credible message of peace, love, and unity? Isn’t the power of the gospel to transform lives and eradicate racism and bias more believable when preached by an integrated church than by a “black church” or a “white church?”
I’m not saying there is never a situation where a “black” and “white” church should exist in a community, but what I’m saying is that if such an arrangement exists because of prejudice and an unwillingness to rub shoulders with someone who is of a different race, then we still have some unfinished business. What do you think?