11:00 a.m. was called out as “the most segregated hour of the week” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in one of his final speeches which he gave on March 31, 1968, just four days before he was assassinated. In case you’re not sure what that means, it means that the most traditional hour of the typical church service, 11:00A, has a long history of being institutionally and forcibly separated by color and ethnicity. Make no mistake: racism from any direction is sin (1 John 4:20).
In the past, most churches were nearly 100% comprised of a single ethnicity. It’s no secret that most of us feel most comfortable with people who are most like us. Note: God has never liked apathy, complacency, and oppression. Check out Isaiah 58.
Recent decades have seen a growing openness to being exposed to, being introduced to, and learning from ethnic groups other than one’s own. The explosion of the Internet, international pressure to globalize, and droves of other ethnicities coming to the United States for education, business, and reconnections with family have contributed toward this openness. Polls by Lifeway Research have demonstrated incremental change in some of our churches’ demographics, but not enough. To read about the Lifeway poll, click here: Sunday Morning in America Still Segregated and That’s OK With Worshipers.
Now let me bring us single Christians into the mix. We are about half the population in every state of the union. A growing number of us are not Caucasian. Many of us “younger” single Christians are used to living outside of a, dare I say, dangerously homogenetic, monocultural bubble.
Many of us “older” singles are not. We like our monocultural bubble.
Most of us are blinded to the fact that an overwhelming ratio of the people in our churches look just like us, racially and culturally, and we are comfortable to keep it that way. We think our churches have done enough to promote racial diversity, according to the Lifeway poll. We like everything just the way it is.
What if we single Christians tore down the barriers of hate, ignorance, and racism?
What if we became the agents of change within our cultures by acting like the body of Christ should have been acting from the beginning—reaching across all color, cultural, and socioeconomic barriers to worship Christ, love and serve each other, and proclaim the eternal truths of the everlasting gospel?
It could be us. We could do this. We single Christians could be the agent of earth-shattering cultural change, initiate a major shift in relevant and real Christianity, by loving each other as Jesus commanded us to do.
Despite all our outward differences, what we have in common—our identity in Christ and our singleness—far outweighs any external differences. Do you realize that the statuses of being in Christ and being single will follow us into eternity?
This is part of what Jesus meant in John 13:34-35, Eph. 5:1-2, and 1 John 4:20-21. And this is part of what Jesus prayed for in John 17.
What if we single Christians were the first to greet and shake hands with someone who was from a different race than ours?
What if we single Christians sat next to and smiled at someone who looked different from us in church and Sunday School?
What if we single Christians struck up sincere and deep conversations with those who were different from us, and offered genuine and deep answers in return?
What if we invited them to our jobs and our Bible studies and our homes and our leisure activities of fellowship? Remember, we’re half the population.
We would shock the church out of its complacency.
And we would stun the world out of its unbelief.
I hope you will sincerely think about doing this, my single church friends in the body of Christ.
For encouragement, look to people like Daryl Davis, an African American R&B musician who worked with Chuck Berry and Little Richard, who has done exactly this. Over three decades, he has deliberately introduced himself to hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members, gotten to know them and helped them get to know him, and built a relationship through which he could challenge their misguided beliefs. Over two hundred KKK members have renounced their affiliations with a white supremacist mentality and given up their robes. To read more about how this happened, click here: How One Man Convinced 200 KKK Members to Give Up Their Robes interview.
The Lord has allowed a culture of singleness to arise within the body of Christ for a reason. This might be it.
We ought to see ourselves as capable of being agents of change in all our little atmospheres of influence.
To be an agent of change, you don’t have to be some big name preacher ranting at the church to become united. You can simply reach across a counter, a desktop, or an aisle and welcome someone into your world who is ethnically different from you. Big changes anywhere start with small changes everywhere.
Pray and seek God about it, my friend. For more inspiration, click here to read the full text of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech: I Have a Dream full text pdf.
When we allow freedom to ring—when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last, Great God a-mighty, we are free at last!”
©Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963