Brothers or Brothers-in-Law?

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was quoted said “I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law”.    His quote goes far in describing much of our current cultural dilemma.  Whether you agree or disagree with Eric Holder’s recent remark contending that we are a ‘nation of cowards’ one cannot deny the truth in his observation that we continue to self segregate and that dialogue on the subject of race is often no less contentious.  I do believe our focus on ‘political correctness’ has driven us further apart in fear of ‘offending’ rather than bringing us closer together for honest evaluation and conversation.

That’s always been the problem with the law – it does not produce right behavior, it merely establishes a minimum acceptable behavior.  We all too often mistake minimum acceptable behavior for right living, to all of our detriment.  I am not about to accept D’s or even C’s from any of my kids, whether it is ‘technically’ a passing grade or not.  I won’t accept B’s for that matter if I believe they can do better.  God isn’t pleased with our settling for ‘technically’ passing.  I am also certain that He is not impressed with our excuses for self segregating His body either.

The church, Christ’s body in the world today, is called not to simply ‘follow’ the lead of the surrounding community, but to lead the community with regards to true brotherhood.  Sadly, in regards to ‘self-segregation’, for too long we have been all too content to passively follow at best, and to justify it at worst.  As followers of Christ, we have been called into one family.  And that should not be distant and estranged family.

48 But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”
49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers!
50 “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mt 12:48-50.

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photo by lorenia

I grew up an only child but through the blood of Christ, I have had the privilege and blessing of knowing true brotherhood.  Not only have I experienced brotherhood, but I have been further blessed in the fact that those who are my true brothers and true ‘kindred spirits’ come from different ethnic backgrounds than my own.  That rarely plays a major factor in our relationships though, who we are in Christ, far transcends who we are in appearance or background.  This is the power of Christ in us.  We are not brothers-in-law.  Christ has made reality what the law could never achieve.

And yet this powerful witness to the power of Christ in us goes unrealized in so many churches.  Why?  By catering to cultural styles, we self-segregate.  No there are no laws requiring segregation anymore, nor are there laws requiring integration in church.  We have been freed through Christ but are so slow to seek true brotherhood.

The current distance between me and my ‘brothers’ has caused me to appreciate those relationships all the more.  As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Perhaps it’s time our ‘homogenous congregations’ find out what they are missing and how true life in Christ was meant to be lived.  Our Father is calling us home, together.


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