“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” – Psalm 133:1
Many church folks are guilty of confusing assimilation and unity to the detriment of the people they try to welcome into churches.
Assimilation is unity’s evil twin.
It requires someone to give up who they are to have a seat at the table.
It demands that people put themselves in square boxes when they were always meant to be octagons.
It suggests the symphonies of life were meant to be played by people with the same instrument.
So many well-intentioned church people unintentionally require assimilation as a solution to ending divisions, “welcoming” marginalized people with the requirement that the marginalized leave their cultures—and important pieces of themselves—behind.
In an effort to love despite differences, some Christians ask people to dilute their differences so they don’t have to deal with them.
It is the experience I have when white church folks look at my brown skin and brown experience and say they don’t see color. It is their attempt to eliminate racism by acting as if race doesn’t exist. They feel they can be closer to me if the thing separating us magically disappears.
But I don’t need people to claim they are honoring my experience by negating it: I want them to recognize that working towards unity doesn’t equate to reaching for uniformity of experience or perspective.
Instead, it requires the recognition that we have different boundaries, pains, and experiences that inform what we bring to the table.
And the differences in those experiences shouldn’t lessen our desire to have respect for or share community with each other.
Unify us, O God. But not at the cost of anyone’s humanity. Amen.
Small Group Discussion
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