Just about everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten.
While this is true, I would like to add that most important theological truths I really needed to know I learned in the children’s songs I sang in Sunday school.
I can still vividly see my Sunday school teacher holding up a hand puppet with different color yarn on each finger. She would wiggle each finger as she sang:
Jesus loves the little children
ALL the children of the world
Red and Yellow, Black and White
They are precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world!*
I remember how loved I felt. The warmth that engulfed me as the truth of God’s love entered my ears, traveled through my brain, and floated down to my heart where a lasting impression was made.
I grew up in a very small church in a rural town. The hard truth is, I was not surrounded by the very diversity I sang about. While I may have not been surrounded by diversity, I was taught to LOVE.
With our country seemingly becoming more divided, the Christian community should be working to point to the true source of the divide. It has been said, “this is not a race issue, it is a sin issue.” From the beginning, sin has been the ultimate cause of every great divide.
When we focus on the true source of an issue, we will find a true solution.
We know the source… sin.
So, now what?
Phil Wilson, Lead Pastor at The Bridge Fellowship in Lebanon, TN, heard God loud and clear telling him to do something about that very question. When you’re listening, the Holy Spirit will usually lay it out for you. In this case, it was: If sin is dividing, then the answer is in uniting.
Knowing a triple-braided rope is not easily broken, Pastor Phil brought around 30 church leaders and staff members together. This was a group coming together that crosses denominational lines.
He wanted to find a way to help community members of assorted local churches engage outside of church walls. He wanted to see interaction in the community, and that interaction lead to action. How do we help others reach across any barrier and come together for prayer with the end goal being unity? In most towns, neighborhoods, and cul-de-sacs, the problem of division is being talked about, but not acted on. In some parts of our nation, there is a boiling point where those who find themselves on opposite sides of an issue are separated and split by an event of violence, racism, or emotion.
The idea was to find a way to engage each other in the community to come together for prayer and unity.
The result so far has been that 16 churches have handed out bracelets for members to wear. If you see someone else in the community wearing the bracelet, they can be approached and engaged to join in prayer.
What makes this unique? The bracelet consist of the colors red, yellow, black, and white fading into each other. The idea planted with Pastor Phil by the Spirit is taken from the children’s Bible song referred to above, “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” A hashtag has also been paired with the community campaign, #OneInChrist, which is also imprinted on the bracelet.
Community members wearing the bracelets have been seen in grocery stores, hardware stores, at schools, and gas stations. While it may not instantly solve the turmoil caused by division, it does start to break walls that divide us. According to Pastor Phil, the bracelet idea “allows one to seek out churches and Christ-followers, regardless of race or denomination, to connect and pray for the healing of our fractured communities and nation.” And as he further noted, “We are one chosen race. We are not defined by the skin color, zip code, or church we attend. Instead, we are defined by the saving, life-giving love of Jesus Christ.”
Other churches have jumped on board as well, promoting the idea to connect past the borders we all have in our heads. Providence Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee posted on their website:
Who knew a simple, rubber bracelet could bring about unity and conversation. Rather than building walls, it can build relationships. Rather than bringing about unrest, it can bring unity. The colors of the bracelet run together and make a circle. This representation of cohesiveness and unending union serves as a reminder to all who wear it that there is a connection we share in common: unity in the love Christ has for all of us and we should, therefore, have for each other.
Growing up in a small church in a rural town kept me from diversity, but it taught me to love and respect everyone. From different colors of yarn based on children’s song lyrics, to a multi-colored bracelets – Jesus loves the little children, ALL the children of the world, Red and Yellow, Black and White. It’s not the channel, but rather, the message. We were all made in His image… and that makes us more alike than different.