“How come he don’t want me?” These words were stated by Will Smith in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He asked the question to Uncle Phil after his dad walked out on him. Will recounted all his accomplishments his dad missed. He stated how he would be a better dad than him. Will wept and asked the question because family should want to be there for you. Family should support you. Family should make you feel like you are valued.
Beloved, this question could be asked by minorities in white churches, denominations, and institutions. I submit to you that minorities don’t always feel like the church is a family. We often feel like strangers in majority settings. I propose three reasons why the church does not feel like family for us.
Safe Prayer Request
Often our prayer requests are impersonal and vague. They tend to be too formal. They display worries but not woe.
My pastor approached me once and gave me permission to tell the church how I felt about the police shooting in our pastoral prayer. He gave me an opportunity to share my unfiltered sorrow. We need more people giving honest and raw prayer request. Create an environment where we can talk about injustices, immigration, and racism. Sharing our woes is what the church is called to do.
We share our mutual woes, Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear.
Church, we can’t weep with those who are weeping if nobody shares their sorrow.
I attend a seminary where there are very few minorities in administration. I have never had a minority seminary professor. I have only read one required textbook by a minority author. I know the seminary is working on this but these facts cause me to ponder “How come they don’t want us?” Why don’t I see more minorities in the faculty and staff? I can’t help be wonder “are they judging us by the color of our skin or the content of our theology?” It is difficult to feel welcome in a place you are not represented. Beloved, monoethnic leadership produces monoethnic structures that push out minorities. Church, the family of God needs minority and majority people seated at the same table to reach all the nations.
We Act Like Enemies
Blood is thicker than water. But the blood of Christ is thicker than our biological lineage. Believers spend a significant amount of time arguing and degrading each other. I have seen it when a minority mentions systematic racism. They are spoken to like an ignorant child. I have seen majority believers who ask honest questions be called everything but a child of God.
Church, our wrestle in not against flesh and blood (Ephesian 6:12). We are not enemies, we are family. We are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17). We have been made alive together in Christ (Ephesians 2:5). We are all a part of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19). Any blood-washed believer is part of our family.
“As we begin to view members of our churches as members of God’s family and thus as members of our family, our prejudices begin to crumble. Racial reconciliation is not only possible; it’s a must because we are the very family of God.”
What Family of God Does?
The family of God gets down in the trenches to bare one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). The family of God welcomes one another (Romans 15:7). The family of God believes the best about each other. (1Corinthians 13:7). The family of God sticks together and endures (1Corinthians 13:7). Most importantly, the family of God loves.
Beloved, strive to love all the saints so that each member feels welcomed and wanted. Sin make this hard, but the Holy Spirit makes it possible. Thanks be to God the Holy Spirit has been working in the hearts of my brothers and sisters. But woe to us because we still have some work to do.
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