Josh Foor: Jesus brings unity

By Josh Foor

Lead Pastor, Big Rapids First Baptist Church
Big Rapids First Baptist has been around for 145 years. We’re thankful God has kept us around for this long! And after 145 years, last Sunday was, as far as we know, the first time a black preacher filled the pulpit in our church.

Before you start rolling your eyes at another article about race and diversity, hear me out. For the longest time, I was with you. “Just let people go to church where they want, who cares if a church is diverse or not?” It’s a common sentiment I’ve heard and even expressed.

But diversity is an issue that is as central to the Christian faith as Jesus himself and the sad reality is that the church is perhaps the most segregated place in our country.

Ephesians 2:14 says “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.”

Believe it or not, the relationship between Jews and Gentiles was about 100 times worse than the relationship between black and white today. The cultural gap between those two groups was enormous. Jews grew up believing the Gentiles were inferior and the Gentiles were bitter and resentful towards the Jews.

Jesus destroyed the hostility by showing us that on the cross what makes a human valuable and lovable is nothing but his love. Our job title, our skin color, our voting record, and our work ethic can do nothing to make us any more or less valuable as humans. Jesus’ love, which he displayed on the cross, defines us as worthy and lovable.

When humans come to see that Jesus alone can take away our guilt and shame, can pay the penalty for our sin, and can satisfy us, we grow to love him. That’s what it means to be a Christian: to love Jesus more than anything else.

What we love unites us. So if we love white skin, we’ll be hostile towards people who have different color skin. If we love the republican party, we’ll be hostile towards anyone of different political views. If we love Jesus we can be united with anyone else who also loves Jesus, even if they are incredibly different from us. Only Jesus can bring unity and diversity. Christianity doesn’t make us all the same, instead it unites us in our differences under Jesus. Jesus is the answer to all the hostility we see in the news and have experienced in our lives.

Pastor Tyler St. Clair and his beautiful family joined us for church last Sunday. He’s preparing to start a church in the Northwest side of Detroit (cornerstonedetroit.org) and we’re excited to partner him and his baby church! While small, this Sunday was a great step towards seeing the church look more like scripture’s description of every people group, language, and nation gathered around Jesus as our Perfect King.

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