"I get invited to a lot of places to speak...once," I told my friends a the largely African American Salem Baptist Church yesterday morning. "But you all have invited me for a third time! The first time we were acquaintances, the second time, friends, but the third time...we are now family."
I love Salem Baptist Church...my second favorite church in Omaha. I am grateful that when I show up, I get hugs from my friends John and Viv Ewing, Pastor Jones, Lamar Pringle, Deacon Christian...and many others. The worship is fantastic, exuberant, joy-filled and God honoring. I not only love the people, but I love the opportunity to bring God's word there. And I am so thankful for the way that the Rev. Dr. Selwyn Q. Baccus brings it to CCC when he is here! I am only bummed that I am never here at the same time he is!
As we all know, race relations and racial reconciliation are tough challenges. But for a Christ-follower they begin with a couple of key factors. First, the common ground that we have in Jesus, his power and his kingdom agenda for this world. In this alone, there is an immense amount that we can build upon. Our view of God, people, morality, salvation, eternity, grace, relationships, and so much more is the same. The second building block is relationships. This is why it is so healthy to be on each other's turf, bring people along, and make/renew friendships. Problem solving is much healthier when there is a basis of trust.
My hope for the future is that God will continue to build trust between us. That he will choose to use us for his purposes. I hope that we will plan things that can only be done when both of us are invested in a vision. I hope that the church will be the transforming influence that God designed it to be. I hope that we will be united - every tongue, tribe and language - and we'll start with the believers on the other side of town. Jesus was a Jewish Messiah with a vision that transcends ethnicity and tribalism - that we would take his message to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and even to the ends of the earth! Further, that we would be 'one' under his banner as evidence to a watching world that he is true. May it be so in Omaha.