Growin’ up in the SoUtH…

There are SO many things I LOVE about growing up in the South – 

  • Sweet Tea
  • Country accents
  • Summer nights
  • Short drive to the beach.. the REAL beach
  • Lightning bugs
  • Potluck dinners
  • Friday night football
  • Fried chicken
  • The word “Y’all”
  • Country music
  • Flip flops
  • Sunday morning church
  • Southern hospitality 
  • Picnics
  • Family
  • The fact that if a weatherman MENTIONS snow or possibly flurries, all of us rush out to buy milk and bread.
And many more things… 
I love the fact that us Southerners make up our mind about things and never change… such as going to church, Mexican food after church (whatev), our loyalty to our football teams, and our confusion of why people want to move North (I’ll never get that). BUT… there are some things that we have set our minds on and walls that have been built that should be shattered with a wrecking ball (not with Miley Cyrus on it though). 

One of those walls… and it’s pretty much the Great Wall of China in some places… is the tension between races. It makes me sick. Racism. I know it still exists everywhere, but in the South, at times it is so strong you can feel it. I know that generations back hurts, offenses, and decisions occurred that affected a nation of people. I am not downplaying that AT ALL! But… why are we still tolerating hatred towards one another? We should have learned from it all. There is no race better than the other. There is no language that is supreme. There is no group of people that should lord privilege over another. There is no one lesser. 

Some people say that segregation is supported in the Bible. Wrong. In the Old Testament the separation that was required was because of wickedness and the beliefs of other nations. The other nations and races positioned around Israel, God’s chosen people, worshipped false gods and believed in crazy things… opposite of His Truth and Teachings. They were told to separate themselves… so they would be holy and that their nation would remain faithful to God. Although they were disobedient, the command wasn’t based on the color of skin… it was based on faithfulness to God. 

To base our feelings, perceptions, values, decisions, and support of something on the color of skin is ridiculous… it just is. 

Christ died for ALL… every color, race, nation, culture, language, tribe… A.L.L. means ALL! EveryONE. Why would be so selfish and proud to decide who we should or shouldn’t love or welcome? 

For the past few weeks, our 5th Quarter events, Wednesday night suppers, and Wednesday night youth services have been more colorful – white and black students – and I have absolutely LOVED it!!! I know some of you are probably like… yea… what’s the big deal? Let me tell you… it’s a huge deal! Jacob and I have prayed for UNITY within The Church since we began in ministry – UNITY within the church walls, UNITY amongst churches, and UNITY with our community… all people. Literally, we both teared up standing in the back of the room looking at our youth… worshipping together… being together… regardless of differences. Beauty. Truly… it’s an answered prayer!!! To see other youth, other people welcoming, feeding, and getting to know them is the BEST thing EVER! 

In Jesus’ prayer in the Garden… like THE night he was to be betrayed, he said this: 

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17: 20:23

He was praying for us… that we would be UNIFIED. UNITY shows His complete love for us… and His undivided faithfulness to us. When we stand as just the white church, the black church, the Americans, the Spanish, the Chinese, the _________… we are not showing Christ’s love… AT ALL! We must stand TOGETHER as THE CHURCH – colorful, multi-lingual, hobos and royalty, princes and paupers, the young the old, the pretty and ugly. Yes, there are differences in looks, cultures, backgrounds, upbringings, and lifestyles… SO WHAT!?!?! 

When you are against people… kids ESPECIALLY… because of their skin color, ethnicity, or background… there’s a problem with YOUR heart… not their appearance. 

So, let’s all check ourselves, me included. Where do our judgments and prejudices lie? Are our beliefs about people based on how Jesus sees them or from our own bias?? Are we truly LOVING others? 

Let’s be willing to have our walls DEMOLISHED in order for Jesus to shine brighter than our traditions, family beliefs, or our own perceptions.  It’s not always easy, and we can look for and find things to support our biases… but Jesus is bigger. Let’s learn to see people through the lenses of the Gospel.  

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