red and yellow black and white, we are precious in his sight

i have really appreciated the comments and emails from last week’s post. it seemed like the quote that touched the most was “are you a Jesus fan or a Jesus follower?” with palm sunday a few days away, it definitely seems to be an appropriate question.  how quickly things turned from people chanting “hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” one day to “crucify him!” a few days later.  i skipped writing last week on lenten reflections for christine sine’s guide–the brokenness of God’s creation.  i did however, reflect on week 4–the brokenness of God’s family and the issues of dividedness, exclusion, and prejudice that separates God’s people.

one of the things that makes me the most sad about the world & the church is our natural tendency toward homogeneity. it is easier to hang around people who look and think and act like us.  in my christian walk, i spent a nice chunk of years insulating myself, my  kids, from “non-christians.” christian school.  christian music.  christian groups.  a totally-absorbed-in-the-contemporary-christian-culture lifestyle.  the biggest thing that was missing in our life for a long time was diversity.  diversity of thought, theology, race, socioeconomics, and a host of other things that provide texture and depth to our lives together.  we really were in the “land of everyone who looks and thinks is basically just like us.”

over the years that has shifted a lot.  we have branched out of traditional “church”, into public school, into relationship with friends with a much wider diversity of education, socioeconomics, theology, and life experiences. the one area that i really long for greater diversity is racially.  yeah, my husband is hispanic and we are around spanish speakers more than the average suburban-ite, but the lack of color in our lives since we exited the navy 12 years ago is really evident.

on this lenten journey into brokenness, it is so appropriate to consider brokenness in God’s family and how walls and barriers and relational damage limit the fullness of the kingdom of God now.  in christine’s reflection, eliacin rosario-cruz wrote a nice piece that hit the nail on issues of division & prejudice.  he says:

we will do more damage than good if we keep addressing the issues of faith and social justice without questioning the given frameworks of racism, prejudice, patriarchy, hetero/sexism, classism, and elitism.  it is by pushing farther past the strings and paradigms by which the church functions that we as followers of Jesus can honestly bring a healing alternative and prophetic voice…given that we are blind to our own complicity and that we have the tendency to describe things to our advantage, we need the voice of “the other” for a broader expression of God’s goodness and liberation.”

we desperately need each other.  we must continue to reach across the aisles & streets & communities & churches & dining room tables and embrace each other’s story and learn to understand each other in ways that will likely challenge us, change us, surprise us. this kind of movement toward understanding means we have to give up maybe what we’ve been told, what we’ve experienced, what we’ve held tightly to for a long time.  it means we must be courageous and brave and step into places, relationships, situations that we might have never imagined or might have been terribly afraid of.  and it also means we must embrace what power has done to those without it.

Jesus came to set all people free and to break down the barriers that exist.  galatians 3:28 says “there is neither jew nor greek, slave nor free, jew or greek, slave or free, man or woman, all are free.”  we have a long way to go.  i do think the raised awareness in the wider church of social justice issues have brought some of these conversations to the forefront, but i also believe that we are a long way off from the kind of connection and inclusion and togetherness as God’s family that would more accurately reflect the kingdom of God.

so this lenten season as we search our own hearts and examine our brokenness, it is important to reflect on how our prejudices and fears block spiritual transformation individually & corporately.  here are a few questions that popped into my head that i am going to continue to ponder:

  • what kinds of people am i potentially prejudiced against because they’re somehow not like me?
  • do i have any idea where did this prejudice come from?  family history?  what others have said?  personal experience?
  • what feelings/fears/barriers keep me from entering into relationship?
  • what feelings/fears/barriers might they have that keep them from entering into relationship, too?
  • what has God been stirring up in me related to restoration & reconciliation?
  • what is a step God might be asking me to take toward it?
  • what have i been learning about diversity in the kingdom of God?

i wanted to share this fun song my friend sam trujillo wrote, a remix of “jesus loves the little children.”  try singing it, it’ll make you smile.  we sang it at the refuge last year as part of one of our gatherings.  i know some people might think it’s a little irreverent with all this serious easter talk going on, but…i sometimes am.    Jesus loves us all.  i think we should love each other, too.

Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world;
Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight;
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Jesus loves all the people, all the people of the world;
Clean cut people dressed in ties, tattoos piercings lookin’ fly;
Jesus loves all the people of the world

Jesus came for all the people, all the people of the world;
Vatos locos, gangsters too, straight A students, is that you?
Jesus came for all the people of the world.

Jesus died for all the people, all the people of the world;
Old school people like my gramps, big bass thumpers mighty amps;
Jesus died for all the people of the world.

Jesus rose for all the people, all the people of the world;
Homeless folks who sleep outside, fancy rich folks in nice rides,
Jesus rose for all the people of the world.

Jesus lives for all the people,all the people of the world;
For all the haters who don’t believe. and when I suck and don’t achieve;
Jesus lives for all the people of the world.

Jesus wants all the people, to be real in all they do;
Never fakin’ who you are, only Jesus is the star;
Then He’ll come and hook us up to glory by and by.

ps:  i wanted to let you know that our fifth issue of voca femina is out. check it out!

ppss:  mustard seed associates asked me to write a piece about suburban missional church for their latest “seed sampler.” it is always fun for me to tell the crazy refuge story.  it’s called the iceberg underneath.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

8 Comments

  • there is certainly a lot for me to ponder. i used to think i was not prejudiced, because i didn’t hate people of different races. but there are those other prejudices. the more subtle or even politically correct ones. those ingrained from who knows where. in the last season i have be able to uncover some and deal with them. but i fear there are more lurking deeper down in my soul that need to be dealt with. and new ones seem to take the place of the old ones. lol. i’m afraid this might be a life long process. i love sams remix of jesus loves the little children. it should be taught in all churches.

    Reply
  • Good quote – the problem is the dominant framing story in which we live … feed the machine!!! Spend, spend, spend we are told …

    The framing story needs to be replaced with the Kingdom message … that would be pretty prophetic I think.

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  • One idea that I heard years ago that has stuck with me ever since is that God has gifted groups as well as individuals, including ethnic groups and races (and even cities!), and that each of these gifts contain a part of His nature. His intent in all this diversity is to demonstrate HIS great diversity; but we cannot see it when we only gravitate to those who are like us. Instead, when that happens, it’s like the spiritual gene pool gets shallow, and we get anemic and sick. It is when we celebrate our diversity (NOT ignore it or shun it) that life gets healthier, and we benefit from a wider palate of the gifts of God.

    Might sound a little mystical…but I’ve kind of thought that way ever since hearing it that way. In fact, this principle seems to go all the way back to the beginning, when He created woman from man (both being in the image of God). His intent in separating them was for them to become one again. And that pattern seems to be reflected constantly, even in the Body-of-Christ metaphor of the church. He separates us out with distinct gifts, with the intent that we come together. We need each other, because it is together, not separate, that we get the complete picture.

    Reply
  • “we desperately need each other. we must continue to reach across the aisles & streets & communities & churches & dining room tables and embrace each other’s story and learn to understand each other in ways that will likely challenge us, change us, surprise us.”

    Oh, I so agree with you but I get lost trying to figure out the practical steps I can take to live this out…

    great post Kathy!

    Reply
  • mike – yeah, it is all so challenging. i think that it will be a lifelong journey, actually, always shifting, learning, letting go, healing, changing. i am glad we’re on the road together, my friend. i agree, i love that song, it really makes me smile.

    mark – yes, we need new framing stories that is for sure, a kingdom one, yeah!

    christine – thanks for the beautiful lenten guide. i have really enjoyed it and next lent we hope to incorporate some of these into our wider community.

    jeff – oh so well said. your thoughts are so beautiful and mystical i think is the right word because it is something sometimes that words can’t even express, the beauty and strength that comes from diversity across all kinds of things. i love what you said here: “it’s like the spiritual gene pool gets shallow, and we get anemic and sick. It is when we celebrate our diversity (NOT ignore it or shun it) that life gets healthier, and we benefit from a wider palate of the gifts of God.” yeah.

    gazelle – thanks for sharing. the practical is the hardest part, i agree. i wonder if it’s some kind of spiritual discipline to try and experiment with, stepping into different conversations, cultures, and engaging in ways that might feel really foreign at first and just notice what God might be stirring up, saying through it? i have a few times gone into a few situations going “i’m just going to step in out of my comfort zone, and see what i can learn…” i’d love to hear any ideas that come to mind for you.

    Reply
  • this reminds me of this song. Great remix. 🙂 How different would the church be if we took the time to remember that each of us is made in the image of God?

    Reply

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