I grew up in Lexington, KY, home of the Kentucky Wildcats. One of the most storied rivalries in college basketball, as those of you who are fans well know, is between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals. It is, to say the least, uncommon to see Kentucky and Louisville fans watching that game together, especially without any hostility. If a person were to walk down a neighborhood street in Kentucky during this game, they might peer into one house with a blue-clad crowd cheering and celebrating. They might, in the very next house, see a red-clad crowd, frustrated, distraught. The Kentucky-Louisville divide, in its very nature, preaches animosity and division to onlookers.
My fear is that the Evangelical Church in America preaches this same gospel of division and animosity.
One can drive down a major road in Nashville, TN, where I currently live, on the day of the Church’s “big game,” and peer into these houses of worship. What would one see? Something not dissimilar from our aforementioned Kentucky neighborhood. At one point on the road, an onlooker might see a “white church.” At the next, a “black church.” Keep going, and you’ll see an “Asian church,” or a “traditional church,” a “hipster church.”
When unbelievers peer into these homogeneous houses of worship, nothing is shocking to them. Like attracts like. It makes sense, just like the Kentucky house and the Louisville house. But the point of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that it doesn’t make sense. When we preach a Gospel divided on ethnic or cultural or socioeconomic or generational lines, we preach a false gospel of animosity and division!
When, on the other hand, our churches look like the Revelation 5 and Revelation 7 Kingdom of God, a Kingdom made up of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation, all worshipping the Lamb together, we have a prophetic witness that confuses the paradigms of those around us, causes them to question the nature of our churches, and draws them to Jesus with the power of his vertically and horizontally reconciling Gospel.
Friends, we have a mission on this Earth. Jesus told us to make disciples. We can’t be divided like basketball fans if we want to take that mission seriously and take the Gospel to the nations.
If we walked down a neighborhood street on the day of the Kentucky-Louisville game and looked in on a house with blue shirts and red shirts, with people laughing and having fun and sharing food together despite the score of the game, we would probably be confused. This just wouldn’t make sense. Brothers and sisters, we need to reclaim the preaching of a Gospel that doesn’t make sense, because this is the Gospel that saves.
This is part 1 or a 3-part series. You can view parts 2 and 3 by clicking on the links below.