"It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o'clock on Sunday morning" Martin Luther King Jr.
I've been noticing something in church that's been bothering me for some time. After services are over, I see people gathering into their usual circles to chat and hang out.
Upon closer inspection, I notice that these groups of people are usually composed by people of the same nationality and cultures. These circles can be so closed that it can be really difficult to be "in".
Despite the fact that my congregation is mostly Latino, and as Latinos we all share some common cultural threads, we can still be very segregated.
And yet this is so normal that it hardly surprises us. After all, it is perfectly normal to feel more comfortable with people who share the same culture. If I had more Nicaraguans going to my church, I would probably hang out more with them than any other cultural group.
It is normal in our collective cultures, but seeing the scriptures it is clear that it is not normal in the kingdom of God.
I feel God has been putting this issue in my heart in the past months.
What is more important for me, or for us as a church, that we belong to a specific culture or that we belong to Christ?
If our answer is, of course, that we belong to Christ, then are our actions reflecting this?
There is a study by Rice University sociologist Michael Emerson that found that only 8% of U. S. congregations are racially mixed, that is, where no one racial group is more than 80% in a congregation.
Living out the gospel is not a matter of comfort, but of continual denial of oneself, even if that means holding on lightly to our culture if in doing so we are holding on tightly to the culture of the kingdom of God.
Following Christ is not about patriotism or, in some cases, being a model citizen. Many times it is counter-cultural and offensive to our cultures.
The culture of the kingdom seems to be the opposite of our cultures: Give to the poor all that you own; lose your life and you will find; the first will be last and the last first. This is a kingdom where prostitutes and tax collectors are entering before many!
Are these issues in your congregation? How can we participate even more of this kingdom in our churches?