More thoughts on race and the church.

God spoke: "Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature (Genesis 1:26)

After yesterday's blog post, and reading a quick article on Relevant magazine, I discovered I might have a few more thoughts to weigh in on the issue of race and the church. Forgive me if I'm a broken record.

One day during confirmation class this year I held an open Q and A with the kids. One of the first questions that was tossed out was "Was Jesus white?" I wasn't exactly thrown off by this question. If you walk the halls for even a little bit at Westminster you will find several (dare I say tacky) paintings depicting a Jesus I've grown up with all my life. He's got long hair, a stylish beard, a beauty contest sash, and skin that is (somehow) whiter than my own. I could understand why the student might be confused. I spent a little bit of time talking about how Jesus came from the middle east, and actually (almost a little ironically) would have most likely looked like one of the people we have so quickly labeled enemies.

That almost always gets people going. To think that Jesus would have looked like a member of the Taliban.

What scared and perplexed me even more was last week when, following confirmation Sunday, that same student and I were walking the halls by my office. He stopped and stared at a painting of Jesus for a couple of seconds, and asked me if I was sure that Jesus wasn't white. I said "I'm certain of it." And his response sent chills up my spine.

"Then why do we have some many paintings of this guy?"

As I said in the post yesterday, the emergent church is not alone in it's segregation. The Relevant post correctly points out that the most segregated hour in the United States is on Sunday mornings. We go with people who look like us. We do more than that too. We go with people who act like us, who think like us, who talk like us, who vote like us, and who flat out are like us. Westminster is no exception.

The danger in this movement in the church is that we are more likely to have pictures (both physical and mental) of a Jesus who doesn't at all match the glory and grace of the Jesus proclaimed in the Gospels. Being white is one thing. But what if we start to assume that Jesus would vote for our favorite political party? What if we start to imagine that Jesus would worship with a guitar in his hands? What if we start to assume that Jesus would only hang out with people that look like us? What we're doing in those situations is that we are creating God in our image, rather than the other way around.

Like I said, Westminster is as much to blame in this situation as anyone. But it doesn't have to be this way forever. One of my favorite scripture quotes comes from Ephesians: (make) every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." If our churches are segregated, then we are not making every possible effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit. So let's start! Even if we're lone voices in our congregations, we still need to make every possible effort to maintain unity. So let's start today!

A lot more coming today. The brain is spinning!

Grace and Peace,