Friday, June 04, 2004

salt and pepper

I have been having some conversations lately about racism and diversity in the church. The more I think about it, the more I agree that America is not a melting pot. Sure, there seems to be some tolerance on behalf of most people. And it is true that we have a variety of cultures here. But a melting pot analogy gives an image of all cultures and sub-cultures blending into one culture. And this just doesn't seem to be the case.

Why did all the black kids sit together in the cafeteria in high school? Well, they were friends. They connected in someway that I couldn't connect with them. Not to say I didn't have black friends. I had a few friends who happened to be black. A few others that were Asian. And many that were Jewish. The strange thing was that the Jewish and nominally Christian people mixed well together. Likewise, the Asian students mixed well into the pot of mostly white people. But the black students seemed somehow to be "other than" the main culture of the school. They seemed to form their own subculture. Much like those of us who really tried to follow and submit to Christ. We too had our own subculture.

So what am I saying? I am saying that it still seems like this "melting pot" we call America is more like the fruit and vegie section of the supermarket than a mixed bunch of fandu cheeses. The races seem a bit more equal these days, but no less separate. Only, this "separate but equal" policy is not enforced by the government but by our own desire. People are staying separated by choice. Subcultures are now dividing themselves from the culture as a whole.

More and more these days we have multiple subsections of subcultures rather than one "American" culture. Sure we see blacks, hispanics, Asians and whites all working together. And we are even seeing mixed couples more and more. But how often to you see white and black folks just hanging out and having fun together. How often to you see an Asian guy, a black girl, and a white guy all hanging out at the movies?

I saw a picture of this the other day. Horizon Church people went out to play ultimate frisbee last Saturday. There was another church up at the school we went to. They called themselves The Rock Church. They were cooking out and playing softball. And there I saw a strange sight. Teenage white girls sitting around with black girls braiding hair. Black men and white men working together as teammates in the outfield. A white girl was up to bat and a crowd of black friends were cheering her on. What was this? What was this unity in the midst of diversity?

There was only one explanation. No PC campaign could create this. No liberal program could manufacture this Saturday of fun. No, this was the Kingdom of God. This church truly was acting as a sign, a foretaste of the coming Kingdom where all tongues, tribes and nations will worship together.

I could see that these people wanted to be together. They spent their free Saturday eating together and playing together. They brought their kids so they could play together as well. It wasn't a program of their church. It wasn't some "racial reconciliation" weekend. This was their daily existence. This was their reality. I was in awe. There they were, together, the salt and pepper of the Kingdom bringing flavor to the world.


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