I am in awe of God’s goodness lately.
This has certainly been a crazy week. Our church has been having interdenominational revival services since Sunday night, where we have joined together with about 4 other churches from all across the theological spectrum–Baptist, Presbyterian, Church of God/Pentecostal, and AME Zion—and boy, has it been incredible.
It all started about 18 years ago. A few churches across the city would have a one-day event called the pulpit exchange, where the Pastors would switch places and preach to a different congregation.
And so it went for years, taking one form or another. But this year, my Pastor and several others got together and talked and prayed and sought the Lord. And what God orchestrated was something none of them could’ve anticipated.
Spanning from Sunday to Wednesday, we are taking part in an event called Crossover Kannapolis, which has become, in this iteration, a revival service where these churches come together and meet in one another’s sanctuaries and worship together, pray together, and reflect on our calling to be God’s Church together.
It’s only Tuesday, and the Holy Spirit is definitely up to something.
A little background, I was raised in a church that was not so diverse. Theologically, socio-economically, racially, everyone seemed to be cut from the same cloth.
And sadly, this is a similar story for so many churchgoers in America.
Not even taking into account theological diversity, this info-graphic from Lifeway research gives a rather grim picture of racial diversity among protestants:
The numbers are disheartening, especially with racial tension in America in the wake of events like Ferguson heightened. And if we added the theological variances, we would be looking at even more division.
I’m not saying that there aren’t reasons why different Christian denominations exist. And I realize that the differences in theology and praxis would present issues, however I do not believe that the issues these differences would present are irreconcilable.
As the Church of God Pastor said last night during the revival, “It’s all about Christ. HE is the way, the truth, the life.It’s not about the differences in how we praise God or how we look.”
And what I have observed in the past few nights is this: We are all distinctly different. From the color of our skin, to the style of our worship, even to the way we articulate different aspects of our faith.
But as I looked out across the crowd of people last night, I saw the beautiful diversity of God’s Kingdom. I saw people who looked differently, thought differently, spoke differently, some who danced and some who didn’t, some who ran up and down the pews shouting and screaming, and those who sat quietly in their seats. I saw men and women, old and young, who loved Jesus first and foremost. And that was all that mattered.
I saw these people from all walks of life proclaiming that Christ is King.
Standing in solidarity with believers across the aisle, across the street, and across the world proclaiming that whatever divides us is null and void at the foot of the Cross.
I looked out at all these people, some familiar friends and some new friends, and thought to myself: This is what the Kingdom looks like. I am grateful to be part of a Church that is so much bigger than one denomination or one building, made up of different people who don’t let their differences divide them. Whose collective cry is that Jesus is King. People from all walks of life, all over our city, who are seeking unity and have a burning desire to see Christ bring the dead to life. This is my Church. These are my people. And God is so very present. God, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
It is not God’s will that we continue to divide ourselves. If a lost and dying world sees a floundering and dying Church that cannot even embrace each other, what is there to make them believe it will embrace them?
It is in the beautiful diversity of God’s kingdom that we show the world how to be united unifiers, how to love one another and love Christ, regardless of the plethora of reasons that keep up safe and warm inside our own prison cells we built with our hands and call churches.
So it is not longer the Presbyterian Church,
or the Baptist Church,
or the Church of God,
or the AME Zion Church.
It is the Christian Church.
Those who, against all odds, stand united in diversity. Those men, women, teens, children, who maybe aren’t so different, after all. We are not many churches, regardless of where we all meet. We are one Church. We serve one God. And it is time to stop hiding behind our pews and show a broken world a God who pulls all of our scattered pieces together and makes us all look like Jesus.
For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. (Galatians 3:27-28)