We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to mankind.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. teaches through this quote, one of the most profound ways we can serve and make a difference in the lives of those around us is through our relationships, rather than through personal achievements.  As we celebrate Black History Month, an integral but often overlooked and untold part of American and world history, we are excited to highlight the diversity of our church and the life-changing impact of spiritual relationships.

I grew up in a neighborhood where racism was the norm. I was often made to feel inferior because of the color of my skin. Unfortunately, many others have shared this similar experience. Having men to look up to who resembled me is in part what gave me the ability to dream bigger and learn how to have the right esteem and view of myself. 

The gospel that transcends our differences

We live in a world that often marginalizes and divides individuals based on superficial differences, whether those are political, socio-economical, cultural, racial, or educational. This can foster a negative narrative that people different from us are either threatening or inferior to us. 

However, God wants us to understand, respect, and unite with one another for a far greater cause—to change the world rather than settle for a divided one.

In this new creation life, your nationality makes no difference, or your ethnicity, education, or economic status-they matter nothing. For it is Christ that means everything as he lives in every one of us!

– Colossians 3:11 TPT

Learning how to walk with God is so inspiring because we learn to live a life in which what unites us—Christ—is greater than what makes us different.

When we look at Jesus and the way he lived his life on earth, we realize that he placed value on every life and brought people together for a great purpose. He preached a gospel that transcended race, reaching the discriminated and excluded, infusing them with hope and purpose.

Time and again it was through this gospel—undefined by color and fueled by God’s vision—that Jesus brought spiritual relationships together to change lives.  

The life-changing impact of the Bible and spiritual relationships

Darrion Carlyle, a member of the church in Contra Costa North, came from a family where his father had immigrated to the United States from Jamaica. While growing up in Southern California, Darrion experienced racism and felt rejected in different relationships because of his ethnicity. 

As a way to deal with this opposition, Darrion turned to ambition to prove his worth.  He graduated from University of California, Riverside, and then received his Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College (SMC). While attending SMC, he started studying the Bible with friends of all different ethnicities. Studying the Bible changed his life, and he decided to get baptized. 

Darrion went on to become a professor at SMC, and is now a teacher at a distinguished high school in Walnut Creek. 

Using our lives to help others

Studying the Bible enabled Darrion to deal with and overcome the pain of racism in his life. As God continued to help him heal, he started using his life experiences to help others transform their lives. He recently studied the Bible with Charlie Nicks, a high school student at Las Lomas High School. Building a relationship with God radically changed Charlie’s life and he was baptized this past Wednesday. 

A turning point for Charlie was when he realized that he was no longer alone and did not need to be concerned about trying to belong. Instead, Charlie discovered that God had a greater identity and purpose for him as part of God’s family. 

We, too-the many-are different parts that form one body in the Anointed One. Each one of us is joined with one another, and we become together what we could not be alone.

– Romans 12:5 Voice 

When we see courageous individuals like Darrion overcome the painful and marginalizing impact of racism to help Charlie and other teens experience healing, we see the possibilities of God. They became together what they could not be alone; through their friendship, God has made them a force for change together.

What God is building through our church is extraordinarily diverse and life-changing.  He’s building spiritual relationships that empower individuals to overcome human limits and the pervasiveness of discrimination together. 

This is why we are so grateful to be in a church that welcomes different people from all parts of the world and walks of life. It’s because of God’s power and passion for changing lives that we can experience these life-changing relationships, and live for a purpose bigger than ourselves.   

To gain a deeper spiritual understanding of how the Bible is essential in this, Deep Spirituality has released a new podcast episode today, featuring Daryl Reed who leads the Washington DC Regional Christian Church. It’s an inspiring and insightful conversation about Black history, the Black Church, and overcoming biases together. Give it a listen today—we are certain it will build your faith!

 

Until next time,

Sam and Tenea Manuel

East Bay Lead Ministers

Sam Manuel

Sam Manuel

Sam is a former outside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. Since retiring from the NFL, Sam has worked in the ministry serving communities in the Bay Area.

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