Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” While some activists protested for a place at lunch counters and in public schools, others held “kneel-ins” at all-white churches simply wanting to join in worship. Fifty years later, there are still too many churches made up of people who predominantly look the same, talk the same, and drive the same kind of cars.
We desire that OHC be a diverse family participating together in the mission of Jesus. The Great Commission directs us to “make disciples of all the nations,” not just the people that look and talk like us. This command should take us beyond race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education, country of origin, age, physical and intellectual ability, language, and even politics. A church should resemble the diversity of its community, and Athens has no lack of diversity. While it may initially look like many other Southern cities of the same size, the University of Georgia brings the world to our doorstep with over 125 countries represented in its student body, faculty, and staff. OHC should reflect that diversity, and we often glimpse it when we meet together.
The Gospel compels and enables us to go beyond begrudging tolerance to genuine love. The church is family, and even when we get frustrated or disappointed with one another, the bond remains. Even when we are wronged, commitment brings us to forgiveness and reconciliation. We are each unique and have differing roles and responsibilities within the church, but we are all united through adoption into God’s family. We are fellow heirs in Christ, regardless of the things often used to divide us.
You are not here by accident. Whether for a few years or a lifetime, God has brought you into OHC for a purpose. Your uniqueness is vital to the whole body.
We want our church family to be a thumbnail image of heaven, where people from every tribe and tongue are worshiping and serving together. Pray this week for opportunities to cross paths with someone outside of your usual sphere of engagement and look for the fingerprints of God on them. Seek out and tear down any barriers in your life that would prevent you from seeing that person as a fellow member of the OHC family.