Healing The Divide

I think most people would agree that there is political and racial division in our nation.

I grew up in Birmingham, Michigan – a suburb of Detroit. I was ten years old when the riots broke out in 1967. It was a scary time. Woodward Avenue was a thriving retail area before 1967. Detroit never recovered. The riots changed Detroit forever.

Things aren’t as bad as 1967 – but the racial divide is worse than it’s been in decades.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but have you noticed that blaming the media or calling other people racists doesn’t help to heal the schism? The division seems to be getting worse.

Of course I can’t control what other people do and say.

I may be able to filter out the hate speech by “unfriending” people, but I cannot control them.

I can only control myself.

So – how can I be kind in an unkind world? How can I be un-racist? I am only one person.

Is it possible for me to heal the racial divide?

For Christians it is not only possible, but we don’t have a choice.

We gave up the choice to be divisive when we gave our lives to Christ.

“A new command I give unto you: Love one another. As I have loved you so also you must love one another. By this shall all men know you are my disciples if you love one another.” – Jesus Christ

This is a command.

It’s time for the church to stand up and take the lead here. It’s clear that politicians do not have the answer. Entertainers to do not have the answer. Jesus Christ is the cure for racial divide and the present day ministry of Jesus happens through the church.

It’s not good enough to post your opinions on Facebook.

We (The Church) need to do something. We need to be proactive in a way that communicates love and unity.

The world needs to see us love one another.

A few years ago I attended the funeral of my Uncle Tony at a Unitarian Church in Boston. Tony was one of the smartest men I knew. He was a Harvard graduate. He could have made $500,000 a year working at a big law firm, but he chose to make much less working for a non-profit.

If you asked Tony what he did, he would say, “I work to change laws to benefit poor people.” –and he did this with great passion. Tony loved what he did and was proud of what he did.

Tony’s funeral was attended by Boston’s elite, all saying very kind things about him, but I found it ironic that there were no poor people in attendance. The people that Tony worked so hard for, were unaware of his efforts. He had no relationship with them.

I don’t know what you are called to do – but if others can’t see you doing something to heal the racial divide then you are not obeying the command of Christ.

Here is my story:

Three years ago I was looking for a church to partner with in Minneapolis to help us obey the words of Christ.

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, so I was looking for friendship with a pastor of a church in the city that was already was running an effective food shelf ministry. Ryan Sather at The Inner City Ministry of CRU introduced me to Pastor Daniel McKizzie, at New Creation Baptist Church.

One thing that I liked about the food shelf at New Creation, was they didn’t just hand out bags of food. It was kind of like a grocery shopping experience – people had the freedom to choose the foods that they liked. The line didn’t move very fast, but it was an honoring way to treat people.

We began to support the food shelf with $300 per month, but I wanted to do more. I wanted our church people to get directly involved in serving others. I asked Pastor McKizzie what we could do and he suggested we serve breakfast to the people participating in the food shelf. We made a commitment to serve breakfast once a month.

At the monthly breakfast we purpose to treat people with respect and serve them like they were at a restaurant. It has been a positive experience for everyone as both congregations get to know one another, and as we get to know each other, we begin to love one another.

See, it’s almost too easy to give your money. It’s another thing entirely to give of your self. To humble yourself and serve others that belong to Christ.

My point is this we can begin to heal the divide by SERVING one another and serving WITH one another.

Another thing we can do to heal the divide is to talk less and listen more. The Apostle James said it like this:

“Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”

When we listen more, we begin to understand each other’s perspective and we begin to value the differences in each other.

What if every church in the suburbs found a church in the city to partner with?

Would that make a difference?

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of GodJesus Christ 

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