May 26, 2016

The Difference isn’t Black and White

As a pastor, I’ve both attended baptisms and have baptized a lot of people in my Christian life. Baptism is for those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and receive Him as Lord and Savior. 

The locations of the baptism have been in churches, pools, lakes, and hot tubs. 

Each and every time I considered it an honor to come alongside individuals who wanted to publicly declare Jesus as their savior and Lord as they entered into the death, burial, resurrection of Christ. So this one shouldn’t have stood out so much… but it did....

Recently, on a Monday night, I was with a large group of men (fifty or so) who wanted to be baptized. I personally was baptizing around ten; all were a variety of races. The church was packed with others who had come out to support, encourage, and welcome these new creations in Christ.

At some point it stood out to me that I was baptizing an African-American, which is strange because of the church I attend which currently has around 40% non majority culture and has folks who attend from around 25 different nations. So it seemed odd (at first) that this stood out to me.

When I was done, another pastor was baptizing his group of men. This pastor is African –American and it caught my attention when he was baptizing a Caucasian man.

The total significance of this event didn’t hit me until I drove home after the baptism service. I realized that although I had done this and witnessed this before, this was what many people had given their lives to see. Men (and women) being able to be baptized by one another REGARDLESS of each other’s ethnicity or race.

In his book “Soul Survivor”; Philip Yancey describes cards that his church gave to African-Americans who came to his church; explaining why his church could not extend a welcome to them. I was taken aback by the fact that way too many Christians have the idea that different races cannot and should not attend services in the same building.

But doesn’t that contradict what Jesus said?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Doesn’t that contradict what the Apostle Paul said?

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28 NKJV)

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13 NKJV)

During a recent Sunday morning service, I thought back to that baptism service. All around me were men and women of all colors, shapes, sizes, and backgrounds; all worshipping in the same building without fear of an attack for doing so. 

Our calling as a church is to Radiate Life and Joy as a House of Prayer for all Nations. This calling comes from Isaiah 56:6-7 (NIV) where God says;

“Foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve Him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him,...these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer...for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

As a “House of Prayer for All Nations,” we are called to live out God's mission in the earth: bringing God's love and reconciliation to everyone - people from all nations, tribes, and tongues.

As I looked around the church and thought back to that baptism awhile back, I was filled with gratefulness that I live in a city of great diversity and attend a church that truly reflects a picture of the Body of Christ each and every time we gather.  A church that is growing to become a foreshadow of what awaits us in heaven:

 “And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9)


Scripture taken from New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.