I hope you were able to participate in this past Sunday's joint worship service with First Missionary Baptist of Moody at the Moody Civic Center. It was a beautiful time to see God's amazing grace on display as the Gospel brought together believers from different backgrounds and ethnicities into one body to offer praise and adoration to our Savior Jesus Christ. There were some glitches to be sure ... we started a little late and ran a little long, children's ministry space wasn't ideal, and the sound system was almost impossible to balance. But overall it was a wonderful time of worship and fellowship in the power of the Gospel. And I surely appreciated the message from Pastor Curtis, reminding us that the promise of "I can do all things through Christ" refers primarily to the weak and to those in suffering and despair. Indeed, it is the power of Christ that allows brothers and sisters of different ethnicities to worship together in unity.
The overwhelming majority of comments I've heard following this service would clearly fall under the category of "let's do it again." Not that anyone is looking to merge the two churches into one, but there seems to be a clear mandate that we continue the practice of worshiping and fellowshipping together on occasion.
My oldest son, Dane, who knows more about and has been more involved in racial reconciliation than I'll ever be, gave me some great advice to share with others when they say "let's do it again." Dane suggested my response should go like this: "Yes, let's do it more often. Actually, let's do it every day." I know Dane's heart and what he was trying to tell me ... that unity in the Gospel between believers of different backgrounds and ethnicities isn't something we should just practice and enjoy occasionally, but rather it should be a lifestyle; that we shouldn't just wait for the church to officially schedule and program such Gospel unity, but rather pursue it ourselves on a daily basis.
Dane's words to me were both encouraging and convicting. He called me because he was genuinely interested in knowing how the service went and was truly excited to hear that everyone seemed to enjoy it. He rejoiced with me in knowing that God's grace was poured out in abundance. But even without him necessarily intending it, his words penetrated my prideful heart and exposed my own sin and hypocrisy. Here's how ... so many people have thanked me for planning and carrying out this service and I've allowed it to go to my head. I started to feel pretty good about myself, about this wonderful deed I had done, and what a model I must be to so many other pastors who only talk about doing such things. But my son's words made me realize that it's not fundamentally the "big events" that ultimately matter, but rather the daily grind of obedience, of loving my neighbor as Christ has loved me, of intentionally looking to the Gospel to overcome relational barriers ... not just across racial lines, but in any relationship. To be honest, I've not been a good model of daily obedience in this area. I need to repent of my failure and self-righteousness.
So for all who have thought, "let's do it again," I assure you that we will again have a joint service with First Missionary Baptist of Moody. But we must also take Dane's advice and "let's do it every day" in our workplace, neighborhood, school, marketplace, ball field, etc. The glory of Christ, the unity of the church, and the power of the Gospel is too big and beautiful to ignore.