As many of you know by now, I am a bit of a movie fanatic. One of my many, many, favorites is - The Breakfast Club. No one did teen-angst and coming-of-age movies like John Hughes. In this iconic film, five high school kids are forced to spend a Saturday afternoon together in detention. But these are not any kids. They are “a brain, an athlete, and a basket case, a princess, and a criminal.” At least that’s how they saw each other at the beginning of the film. By the end of the film, they have come to see past their white suburban differences, learned each other’s stories, and been knit together as friends.
In a small way, it’s a picture of the power of the gospel.
Ever since I have been in ordained ministry, I have primarily used one benediction to conclude the service,
“And now, may your Father in heaven make you one, as He and His Son are one. So that the world will know that He loves them and sent His Son for them.”
Those of you familiar with scripture will recognize this from the High Priestly prayer of Jesus. Hours before His death, Jesus goes off to pray. And when He prays, His primary concern is the unity of His followers, and subsequently – the Church (also known as us).
John 17:21-23 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
There is a reason why I love this passage. It’s all about the Church!
The simplicity, complexity, and missionality is striking. Jesus knows that His followers will have to overcome economic, political, educational, cultural, racial, and even personality differences. This unity can only be accomplished through Christ, who knits the church together – in love and in mission.
During the past year we have seen this taking place in both of our congregations. In our Palos site, while nestled in a historically Dutch demographic, we are seeing an increasing number of ethnically Latino families attending our services. On Sunday, a young woman of Lebanese background was baptized. In addition, our economic diversity has also increased. This is wonderful because the diversity within five miles of the Palos site is enormous.
The last couple of times I have been in Hinsdale, I have also noticed an increasing ethnic diversity. God is at work in our midst.
Here’s why this matters.
Our community (church) should reflect our communities – in all their diversity. Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the nation. The reasons for this are deep, and long-standing. But these divisions are no match for the gospel.
The gospel brings together people from all backgrounds. And when the gospel knits diverse people together it becomes evangelistic. This is the purpose of Jesus’ prayer in the garden - that the unity of the church would be seen and through this unity people would know that God loves them and sent His son for them.
Let’s continue to examining our communities and doing the hard work of welcoming and getting to know each other and those around us. Not because it makes a good movie, but because it proclaims the gospel.
Serving Christ with you,