In all that God created in the universe, from the tiniest organism to the largest star in the farthest expanse of the galaxy, there is only one thing He created in His own image; human kind. It’s an easy thing to overlook, but the implications of that are paramount in seeing God’s Kingdom alive on this Earth. In Himself, God finds diversity and community; existing in three parts, yet operating perfectly as one. As His image bearers, it is God’s desire that we reveal His image well. That is why we strive to see the diversity of God’s creation brought together and operating as one.
This month is designated as Black History Month. And while there are errors and hollowness that exist in the designation, it does give us an opportunity to intentionally reflect on some things. One of those things we want to reflect on at A4ONE is how God is using humility, forgiveness, and repentance to bring racial reconciliation to the city of Birmingham. Particularly, how He is using something as simple as this gym and athletics to accomplish His will; our unity bearing His image well.
It is no secret that this country has a tainted history in regards to race relations. To this day, there is still a need for recognition and repentance of the evils that plagued our past. We don’t seek to simply sweep those things under the rug, rather we seek to acknowledge them, learn from them, and move forward in a way that offers healing and hope. But, for as much as there is to mourn, there are also things to celebrate; like the many who gave life and limb for the recognition of their position as image bearers of God to be equally valued. The results of those sacrifices are being seen today in many ways. One of those ways we see it on a daily basis is through the relationships at A4ONE. It's one thing to have seen the desegregation of athletics over the past 75 years, and it has played a huge role in the progress of race relations, but simply playing sports inter-racially was never the end goal. The end goal was, and remains, that we would find family and brotherhood in the people to our right and to our left, no matter their race, ethnicity, or culture. That is what we witness every day; athletics creating an avenue for family and community in the midst of extreme diversity.
On a daily basis, we not only witness diverse gatherings of people, but we see those same people actively involved in each other’s lives. The true mark of that diversity is that our homes, our dinner tables, and the mundane of our everyday lives look as diverse as any event gathering we see. That’s how we know that we not only tolerate differences, but instead, celebrate them as uniquely glorifying parts of God's complete image. A part of His image that we need to experience His Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven.
So, as you reflect on history and diversity this month, take a moment to celebrate these things with us:
1. That God has brought conviction and genuine repentance to those in the dominant culture. We have seen many people humbly repent for the sins of their forefathers and give up the unmerited privileges that came from them.
2. That God has gifted the minorities in our area with a heart of forgiveness. By God’s grace, we have seen so many lovingly open their arms and welcome us into their lives, despite what they’ve seen and experienced over the years.
3. That God is truly bringing reconciliation through repentance and forgiveness. Daily, we see the fruits repentance and forgiveness in our families and friendships, and we believe we will only see that fruit increase as Christ continues to transform us all.