In this series, Pastor Miles unpacks some incredible blockbuster films with God-sized truths that we can apply to our own lives. In His day, Jesus told earthly stories to which His listeners could easily relate to relay heavenly concepts.
Due to copyright laws, we are not able to show clips from the films in this series online, so for this week, Pastor Darren led a short devotional to discuss the topics of this week’s movie, Remember the Titans, which is about racial divide and how a sporting event brought people together despite their differences. If you are aware of recent events in our nation, you’ll know that racial tension is pretty high right now. A lot of this tension stems from not viewing or valuing others the way that God does.
In God’s heavenly kingdom, every race will live together, representing all the different shades of brown - and this should be our goal too, as we work to see God’s kingdom fulfilled on earth.
Pastor Darren shared that when he was growing up in New York, areas were markedly divided by race. Hispanics lived in one area, whites in another, blacks in another, etc. but whenever there was a ball game involved with the kids, the tension dropped and everyone got along to work toward a common goal, against a common enemy.
If a childhood game has the ability to bring people together across racial tension, it must break God’s heart that Sunday is the most segregated day of the week in America. The enemy has used that fact to build hate, increase tension, but in God’s heavenly kingdom, every race will live together, representing all the different shades of brown - and this should be our goal too, as we work to see God’s kingdom fulfilled on earth.
In Remember the Titans, there is an incident at the beginning of the movie that begins all the racial tension. As the story continues and people begin to feel loved, allow themselves to learn about others, and work to get to know one another, the whole temperature of the team is changed. They were able to be successful, taught, and get to know one another. It changed the temperature of the team and allowed them to have success. As a reflection of this, Pastor Darren created an acronym for the word UNITY, because unity breaks down the ignorance, racial tension, and division.
Understand one another’s differences.
Differences are not bad; they are simply differences. We must face our fears and be willing to learn about one another. When you learn about someone, you develop a relationship, and things can change. As Pastor Darren mentioned, he grew up in a segregated area, so he didn’t have friendships with white people, yet when he went away to college, his first roommate was a white student. At first, Darren thought they would do their things and stay out of one another’s way, but the more he got to know his roommate, the more he realized how much they had in common, shared the same challenges, likes and dislikes.
Discrimination is unjust treatment based on race, sex, or age. We are all created in the image of God, so we are to treat everyone as a reflection of God. If we discriminate, it is like saying that God made a mistake or that we don’t love a part of God. Jesus sets the standard for loving others in Matthew 5:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:43-48
This passage should cause us to check ourselves and our inclinations toward others. It challenges the “you versus me” perspective and instead focuses us on being obedient to God.
Invite others into your world and enter into theirs.
Confront your fears and prejudices, whether conscious or subconscious. When you are willing to enter into someone else’s world, your beliefs are exposed, and you can learn about your own thoughts and attitudes. Maybe you’ll discover why a person acts the way he does or maybe you’ll discover a new side of the person that you’ve never considered.
Jesus invited people in to be with Him even when no one else wanted to associate with them. He also wasn’t afraid to enter into their world and meet them right where they were. Remember the Samaritan woman at the well; no one wanted to associate with her, but Jesus went right to her as she did her daily chore of gathering water. He loved her, had compassion on her, and gave her a practical step. The disciple Matthew wasn’t living for the Lord when Jesus met him, and yet Jesus went right to him, called him to follow, and didn’t expect him to clean up his act before he was allowed to follow Jesus.
When Jesus gives the two most important commandments in Matthew 22:37-40, He removes any out we have when it comes to loving others. This doesn’t mean that we will always agree with everyone or always like what they say or do, but we are reminded that the most important thing for us as Christ followers is to love as Jesus commands.
Togetherness is necessary for achieving peace.
Both sides have to come together, reconcile, bend, and be willing to understand the other.
Judge not lest You be judged. In Matthew 7, Jesus reminds us not to judge other people, but to focus on our actions and attitudes.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5
Rather than looking for the fault or blame of others, take responsibility for your own actions. If you wrong someone, apologize. As the entertainer, Michael Jackson famously sang in The Man in the Mirror,
I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
Be challenged today to reflect on your upbringing or any habits, thoughts, or attitudes that might look down upon others. If we can establish a common goal of living in unity and keep the common enemy in our sights, we would see an incredible change in ourselves, our families, our church, and our culture. We need to make sure we are obedient to Christ. Reach out and invite people to your Life Group who are different from you. Ask the Lord to reveal any ways in which you do not love His creation, and ask Him to help you to love the way He intended, being salt and light to the world.