18th june 2020
Over the past 3 weeks we have seen the world respond to the murder of George Floyd by white police officers in America. We have seen people declaring that ‘Black Lives Matter’ and even saw footballers take to the knee last night as the Premier League restarted to show their support. I have heard members of the black community speak of their hope that this may be the beginning of change. In the church it seems that white members (myself included) are waking up to the reality of racism and the need for change. It is sad that we have not listened to our brothers and sisters who are experiencing racism on a daily basis in our city but now is an opportunity to change.
My hope is that this moment we are in will bring about change. It will lead to changes from individual attitudes right through to government and the challenge to systemic racism which has allowed to racial inequality to thrive in every area of our society. I am however aware that there is the potential that the issue of racism will disappear from our TV’s and our minds once again soon without real progress being made. At the start of COVID-19 there was lots of talk of how it is bringing communities together and people were getting to know their neighbours (if only at 8pm on Thursday as we clapped for key workers!). However, those same neighbours can be found on opposing sides of protests with one shouting ‘black lives matter’ and the other guarding a statue. How quickly the desire for community was forgotten. We cannot let the same happen for the issue of racism, it is too important for that.
The good news is that as the Church, we have the solution for racism. A world with no racial hatred is not a dream that we have created in 2020 but is found in the pages of Scripture. In Genesis 11 we see people scattered at Babel and see the explanation for our separation as people. However, the curse of Babel is broken by Jesus on the cross and we see at Pentecost the reversal of this scattering (Acts 2) that means hostile relationships are broken down and we are made one because of the work of Christ (Ephesians 2).
This unity then becomes a witness to the world of what it means to live in the Kingdom of God. At Jubilee we have an opportunity to experience a taste of heaven on earth. John in Revelation sees a picture of heaven and describes in in Revelation 7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.
There is a moment coming when we will gather with people from every tribe and tongue around the throne of Jesus worshipping Him. There will be no racial hatred or division there but unity. We will not lose our identity, but we will be united in our diversity, all worshipping our King and our Saviour. We long for that moment but we get the privilege of asking God for a taste of that heavenly reality now. That as a church we will be a place where there is no place for racism, where everyone is invited, accepted, and included. Everyone has their part to play in this body (1 Corinthians 12).
So how are you working towards being one as a church? There is so much we need to do and so much to say but let’s start by being united. How can you show the unity of Jubilee Church this week? I would ask everyone of us to commit to getting to know at least one person who comes from a different background to us this month. Reach out and ask how someone is doing, ask what you can pray for, take a meal round to someone’s house, start to learn a new language so you can communicate better with someone new to the country and our community.
There is such a richness of diversity at Jubilee with over 25 nations represented amongst us. There is so much we can learn from one another and so much fun we can have together while we do that. I can tell you the mistakes I have made over the years and the lessons I am learning but I can also say that my life is the better for being in Jubilee and God has used this community to help me grow. There are stories to be heard, lessons to be learnt, healing to happen but as we do that, we will demonstrate to the world what the gospel looks like it action.