Racism at root of segregated worship

The late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America.”If Dr. King were to ask today if Sunday were still segregated, our answer to that question would be yes because nothing has really changed, and Sunday morning still remains the most segregated time in America. We can work together, play together, shop together, eat together; but why can’t we worship the same God together?

The reason is racism, which is attributed to segregated Sunday and is a sin, and it is still very prevalent in the church today. Racism is a spiritual problem that has always thrived in the church for centuries, yet it is very important to remember that the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, never once advocated it. As a matter of fact, His summary of the Ten Commandments broke down very simply to love God with all your heart and soul and strength, and then to love your neighbor as yourself. He gave a perfect example about who is your neighbor in the parable of the Good Samaritan in St. Luke 10:30-37; Jesus showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that loving your neighbor is to transcend racial, social and status barriers. Jesus said in Matthew 7: 12, “Whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, even so do you also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets.” This rule was not given for the Jewish people alone but for all people of all races and nations. It is the perfect end toward which all the law and the teaching of the Lord are directed.

It requires that each one put himself in the place of the other. We do not want others to be prejudiced against us; we want them to understand us. Hence we are not to be prejudiced against others, but to try to understand them. No matter what position we may find ourselves, we want to be treated with consideration, fairness, kindness, love, sympathy and sometimes with compassion and mercy.

We are, therefore, to treat others in the same manner. This is a very simple principle and easy to understand. When Christians sincerely pray about this, we will see a difference.

This is where reconciliation begins in the heart of mankind and with people working together in an environment in which everyone has pledged their allegiance to Jesus Christ and allowing Him to speak to their hearts. If the church is going to provide a picture of reconciliation for the world to see, Christians of all colors have to be pro-active. It isn’t enough to walk one mile, however; it will take walking two miles to make a difference in this world of ours.

Jesus created the church out of love for us and it’s up to us to reach out with love to others. Moving forward means understanding that reconciliation stretches beyond integration or equality to a unity of spirit and purpose. Reconciliation begins with removing the “dividing wall of hostility” in one-on-one relationships.

We must be Christ-like by viewing the other person as one whom God loves dearly. The time has come for the Church (meaning us the believers) to strive to be a model of reconciliation in a world of bitterness and hatred between the different racial groups.

This world is big enough for all of us. God is big enough for all of us and God created diversity. If we can learn from nature about life, then we can learn from each other the importance of diversity. We as Christians, whether black or white, are to unite with one another, and we are to live in harmony with one another because of the fellowship we have in Christ.

The Rev. Christopher D. Handy is a pastor in Monroe.