Monday, February 13, 2006

A profound challenge

At our weekend InterVarsity conference, our speaker was teaching on God's heart for reconciliation, and one of the most profound things that he said was, "If reconciliation is going to happen, someone's going to have to get weak."

That, in a nutshell, is a fantactic challenge to the Church, which has made countless excuses for why separation on Sundays (and in our everyday lives, as my good friend Miles has reminded me) is all right. From worship preference to preaching styles, theological differences to politics, there are any number of "good" reasons to stay apart. And to give up one's personal preference, your main issue, requires weakness and humility. This goes for all races, but especially for whites, as we tend to be in more positions of power. We need to admit that we do have power and position that other races don't have, and offer those to the Lord, willing to get weak.

Or perhaps rather than being willing to get weak, it is a willingness to admit and embrace the weakness that we try to cover up so much. I don't have to get weak, I merely need to embrace it and be willing to have it exposed and used by the Lord.

9 comments:

cory cavin said...

Another thing for giving up power and assuming the position of humility (sounds like a frat hazing thing, but it's not) for whites is their/our realizing they/we have a culture. I heard a Tim Keller sermon up here in which Keller's black friend told him "The thing that frustrates me about you people (whites) is that you don't think you have a culture." Keller said it took him 15 minutes to understand what the guy was talking about, further illustrating his friend's point. White people in America and white evangelicals assume that their lifestyle and how they do things is "the way it is" and it doesn't seem like a culture. But if we realize that we actually have a culture as white people, it establishes that we have practices, traditions, and a way of doing things (a culture - i think) and we're used to that, but they aren't necessarily the only way to do it. And being in the majority, we've assumed that ours is the default way. It may be hard to lay down our ways, but we aren't necessarily laying down 'the right way' just our way.

Alex said...

i want to give a shout-out to cory on that; when we talk about 'ethnic foods' we never mean mcdonalds. but you know what? until we realize and embrace the fact that mcdonald's is an ethnic food and actually reveals tons about white western cultural values, we will never get that white people have culture. and until we realize that we have culture, we'll never get anywhere on the racial rec discussion--we'll just always assume we do things 'normally' and others want us to do something 'weird' or 'different' rather than understanding that we all have culture and we all bring something to the table...and some of it needs to be left behind, other parts of it can come, but it all needs to be redeemed.

Alex said...

oh yeah, meant to say this: "Being White" (IVP) does a phenomenal job talking about this.

Marshall said...

Cory (and AK) - have you all heard the Kellar's church is not a proponent of seeking integrated congregations? I have a pastor friend who says they visited up there, and that their church sau that it's not an effective model and that they lean towards establishing ethnic-specific congregations.

Shane Arthur said...

Marsh - I wonder if it's a PCA thing - we got into a conversation last night at our small group where Dawn was questioning why we are so passionate about reaching out to the urban poor around us but don't seem to be interested in moving in the direction of bringing them into our community but rather in serving them through outreach ministries - there response was that due to how hard it was to have an integrated church community that it wasn't a high value for the church - it's something they say they would like to see happen but don't actively pursue I think in large part because of this view on church strategy

Marshall said...

Shane, that line of thinking drives me nuts. Now, I am sure that there is some sort of rationale behind it that is good, but it seems to me that they are saying, "It's hard to make that work and it's not going to be 'effective' so we will just not worry about it." Not to get too dramatic, but that is the same attitude in the Church towards slavery - many thought is was a "bad" thing, but they considered the salvation of souls paramount to working for social justice, so slavery was allowed to continue as long as the Gospel was being preached. I feel a post coming on here.

Shane Arthur said...

Looking forward to your post - I'll agree with your comment on the rationale, I think it is very similar - isn't this also a current IV debate as far as different chapters?

Dabney said...

so where is that post?

cory cavin said...

Sorry, I haven't checked comments in a while, and further posts could make this comment pretty after-the-fact...

I don't know Redeemer's actual stance on integrated vs. non-integrated churches, but I do know that Redeemer's style and mission is to engage the prevailing culture and thought, and then bring the Gospel to it to engage, redeem, and change that culture. The Redeemer service I attend does not seem to reach out ethnically and does seem traditionally Presby (which seems "white" to me, but that is quite possibly my own ignorance of culture speaking), but the attendees seem to be somewhat representative of an intellectual New York mindset - multi-racial (mostly White and Asian), college educated, young(ish) professionals and artists. Redeemer's strategy seems to be more setting up churches in communities and engaging that community and it's makeup, and not necessarily bringing specific ethnicities together. And then sending its worshippers out to engage the culture.

I don't know how to do the integration and what the answers are regarding that, but I will say that in NYC, I, at least, rub shoulders with the urban poor and other ethicities everyday, much more than I did in Charlotte. In a city where there is SO much diversity bumping up against each other all the time, I wonder if it is always needs to be the priority to mix cultures and constantly integrate (this reminds me of the same question in the Christian communities at UNC: we are all in different fellowships - how do we serve and love each other and exist? Do we all join up? Can we stay separate? Should we?) Is some separation normal and ok? Can you come together at times, or just exist together, but live in your own cultures as well? What does the Gospel say about this, and what is the Lord's "heart" towards this?