Several things have disrupted my life in the last 30 years. A few notables: the internet, hip-hop, smartphones, selfies, Uber and Facebook. Disruption for me is this radical change in business strategy or community organizing where a new product or service creates a new market or a unique way of thinking. Disruptive people or ideas not only think about their current context or customer, but they spend even more time focused on people they haven’t reached yet and their needs.
A well-known American leader wrote something disruptive I think is worth talking about.
“But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. I meet young people every day whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust.”
These are powerful words that ring true for me today, but what is even more challenging is that they were written by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 16, 1963, in his Letter from Birmingham Jail. The letter was in response to the white evangelical church’s criticism of the Civil Rights movement to bring equality to all people and dismantle our segregated societal systems.
Today, much of the world and our evangelical church celebrates the courage, work and dream of Dr. King, but it is so easy to forget how disruptive his message was at that time. For many then and even now, disruptive racial reconcilers can be perceived as deviant people who should be avoided or silenced.
What if our fear of conflict and desire for comfort or control actually goes against God’s call for social holiness and racial reconciliation? Paul says to the church of Philippi:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV).
Paul then challenges them and us to empty ourselves of our preferences, position, power or privilege by giving us Jesus as our perfect example. When the history books are written about you and your church will it say you were a peace keeper or a peace maker?
Will you, like King, be identified as a disruptive racial reconciler? Would you like to be?
During this first month of a new year, examine your call and your comforts. Does the love of one negate the full response to the other?