A friend from the Middle East is in a serious relationship with an American of another race. Her two children, born in the Middle East but raised in the U.S., are dating women from Asia. No one thinks anything about it. After all, they are all minorities…the other. Yet, when someone from another race becomes the leader of a large religious denomination it is headline news. When a group of refugee children are placed in a classroom on a hall with other children, the school threatens to pull up stakes and quit paying rent for the facility unless the children are moved. When we talk about building the church here in America we talk primarily about engaging our young people-our Caucasian young people. When we talk about immigration regulation, we talk about them and us. We do make attempts, I must admit. We talk about attempting to become more diverse in our faith gatherings. Translation? We find a separate room for the “others” to meet. I am beginning to think that we interpret the tower of Babel (Genesis 11) as a blessing and not the curse that it was.
The thing is Pentecost (Acts 2) reversed Babel. The Holy Spirit descended and made it possible for the message of Christ to go forth as listeners heard the message in a way that they could understand. God did not strip away color, culture, uniqueness or even language. He united by a message and made sure everyone could understand that message. We now live in a time when we can experience the beautiful unity in diversity experienced by those first followers. If we join in what God is doing in bringing the peoples of the world together, we will not applaud when someone from a minority leads the majority. We won’t notice it! It will be the norm. We won’t need separate classrooms for our refugee children. They will be helped and nurtured to excel scholastically alongside other children by teachers, classmates and surrounding community. When we talk about engaging young people we will take into account that only a portion of our young people are from one particular ethnicity. Our churches and gatherings won’t grow because we set aside a separate room for them. We will grow because the message that unified at Pentecost will still be uniting us. There will no longer be a need to embrace the “other.” There won’t be an “other.” It will be us…all of us…unified in our message and in our diversity. Babel was a curse… a curse upon a prideful self-assured group of people. I am thinking I would rather forgo Babel and live Pentecost.