Am I Practicing an Integrated Faith?

After the George Floyd video hit the internet, racial tensions in the U.S. began to rise—and the Body of Christ was not excluded from this tension. People from all sides voiced their opinions, and as a Christian Black man, I found myself in many conversations about race and racism within the Church. My opinions on issues that I’d previously kept to myself in white spaces were suddenly being discussed openly and daily. 

As I engaged in these conversations, some of my white Christian friends misunderstood my feelings altogether on the issues that we discussed. Other friends were angry or even rude as they shared their point of view. A few of my Black friends asked how I could worship and serve a “white Jesus,” or practice “the white man’s religion.” 

I began to question my own beliefs. Had I been deceived by Christianity? 

Issues like Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory seem to be separating the races—and the Body of Christ—a little more each day. It feels like we are reverting back to the Jim Crow era, when Black and white people had to be separate and drink from different water fountains. I can’t help but wonder: Why are the white and Black churches divided on all these disputable matters? Are we supposed to be divided? And, am I practicing a Jim Crow faith? 

These questions have caused me to search the Scriptures— the same Scriptures that have been my foundation since I was 12 years old. One day, after a time of lament, I found myself reading 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. It said, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (NIV). 

As I read these verses, it was like I was experiencing a spiritual awakening. “We were all given the one Spirit to drink!” God’s voice seemed to drown out the other voices, telling me that as believers, we all drink from the same spiritual water fountain, no matter what our race or culture is. That means that this is not, in fact, a Jim Crow faith! God has given all of us the same Spirit: His Spirit. Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection was for all nations, and it gives all us the opportunity to be reconciled to God and to each other. 

Soon after my spiritual awakening, my wife Denise and I received an invitation to visit a white couple that were friends of ours. We discussed some difficult issues that day, and it was not an easy conversation. Though it seemed as though we were disagreeing on every point in the discussion, in the end we were able to agree on one thing: that we are all members of Christ’s Body, and that one day He will return for us all. 

I’m so glad Christ commanded us to love one another rather than agree with one another. Until Christ’s return, let’s practice loving one another while we look forward to seeing Revelation 7:9-10 fulfilled: 

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (NIV). 

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