Political correctness is a misguided and shallow attempt to accomplish what needs to happen in our culture. What needs to happen in our culture needs to first happen in the Church. Recently, the Lord has blessed our church with the opportunity to partner with an African-American church in our community. This is NOT an effort to be more PC or more "tolerant." No, this is an effort for the church to be what Christ created it to be: Authentic.
Jesus was not politically correct, and would have been likely deemed "intolerant." In fact, if more people were familiar with the first-century culture of the Ancient Near East, they would recognize that Jesus very often offended people on purpose (Matthew 17:24-27; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 4:16-30; John 6:41-71). He used those moments to expose the falsehoods and inconsistencies in people's worldview of that day, both in His enemies and His disciples. He still does today.
One of our inconsistencies in the Church is our lack of unity around the truth. While this varies in degree from one community to the next, our local churches are often more segregated than their surrounding communities. Believers of different ethnicities are not worshipping together. Yet, the Bible clearly states that ethnicity is no longer a point of division among the people of God. Jesus broke down the dividing wall (Ephesians 2:13-22) and the gospel supersedes any ethnic or cultural division (Colossians 3:11).
Race is not the only division among churches. Churches of the same racial make-up often struggle to work together in meaningful ways. This is not to suggest that it never happens. There are many levels of cooperation that occur. I have observed over the years, however, that churches in close proximity often feel in competition with each other, but what is there to compete over? We all should be serving the same Kingdom and the same community.
Our thinking must change.
Our two churches have started worshipping together, but there is more to it than just putting on a show. If all we did was hold joint worship services, we could be in danger of falling into the shallowness of political correctness. We must not only worship together, but we must also minister to one another and work together to minister to our community. We are not called to live the lie of political correctness. We are called to be authentic. We are brothers and sisters in Christ.
This sibling relationship is based on the nonnegotiable doctrines of our faith. We know that there is no other way to be reconciled to God except through Jesus Christ. If we cannot agree on this, then we cannot be authentically or Scripturally unified. Yet, if we can agree on the bedrock truths of Scripture, then we are unified according to those Scriptures. Unfortunately, since before the founding of our nation, the church has often allowed societal forces more than Scripture to shape the make-up of our congregations.
Our churches must stop this trend and work together in events, outreaches, and ministry. We must worship together often, fellowship together regularly, disciple one another continually, and pray for one another fervently. As we think of ways to carry out the Great Commission in our community, we must always look for opportunities to include our nearby bodies of believers.
What if two churches close to each other were both wanting to have Vacation Bible School? VBS is a great discipleship and outreach tool. What if two churches joined forces and resources to have VBS? They could still do two weeks of it, a week for each church, but the churches can support each other with volunteers and money. Yes, even with money. They also have the option to hold one larger VBS together. Perhaps one church has more people and resources than the other church. Then the church with more resources could help the other church put on a VBS.
But wait! What if we are helping the other church, and that effort leads to people joining that other church instead of ours? Great! Mission accomplished! As long as both churches are faithfully proclaiming the biblical gospel, when someone joins either church they are joining the kingdom work of God. That is what matters. What is of less importance is the earthly address at which they serve.
Abiding in Unity
Given the realities of race in our society, if churches lead the way in working and serving the kingdom of God together, we will be more effective in the Great Commission. The community we are trying to reach will see that we do not just talk the talk, but we walk the walk. While there are logistical, cultural, and vision challenges involved, they are just that, challenges, not impossibilities. We cannot be lazy in these endeavors. When our surrounding community sees us united in Christ, then they will be more apt to take the gospel of Christ seriously.
"Whatever we choose to abide in is what we will live out; so we need to abide in Christ, abide in His word, and abide in His love (John 15:1-11)."
In regards to racial struggles, I am not suggesting that we ignore the past. There is still distrust among both races, even in the Church. However, Scripture more than the past must drive our present and future efforts. We can acknowledge past failures, but if we abide in them, we are bound to repeat them. Instead, we are called to abide in Christ (John 15:4), and to abide in His word (John 15:7), and to abide in His love (John 15:9-10). Whatever we choose to abide in is what we will live out; so we need to abide in Christ, abide in His word, and abide in His love. Through this, trust will be regained, and the Great Commission will be carried out.
Political correctness fuels division as it highlights differences and pushes everyone to focus on these differences, sometimes to the point of validating every worldview as equally true, which is nonsense. Jesus said that there is no division for His people because these differences do not define us any longer. The One we have in common defines us. When we truly embrace that Christ is all and in all, then we can live unified.