Are We Really United?

Originally published Friday, 11 April 2014.

One of my greatest pleasures in this writing world is having the privilege of relationships with other writers. When they write the book, I pray for them. When they release the book, I rejoice with them and celebrate. But most obviously, I read their books and learn from their wisdom. 

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to my sweet friend Trillia Newbell and her new book: 

United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity

Trillia Newbell has lived life in a way I haven’t; as a black woman. No matter how hard I try to empathize, I haven’t lived in her skin and faced the same challenges and trials. With grace and kindness, this book offers me the chance to see through her eyes and peek into experiences, thoughts, and hurts – ones I might not naturally bump into in my own daily life. Trillia’s life and her love for Jesus equips her to write passionately and wisely on what she calls “God’s Vision for Diversity.”

I haven’t devoted much thought to diversity over the years and I’m probably more ignorant than knowledgable on many racial issues. If it wasn’t for a friend writing a book, I probably would not have sought out a book about ethnic diversity on my own. But I’m just the person Trillia is probably aiming for; the people who don’t know they could benefit from a conversation about unity in the church. She hits the nail on the head when she assesses oneproblem many may relate to:

“…more often than not, we choose apathy before we aggressively seek to learn about others (p. 133).”

United prompts Gospel-dependent believers to consider their ways in regard to how they relate to those who are different: “Could it be that you are partial to those who are just like you? Could it be partiality that hinders your pursuit of diversity (pg. 108)?” How we answer these questions could indicate problems deeper than apathy and ignorance. She writes:

“We cannot live redemptive lives and hate our neighbor. Diversity in relationships not only shows unity to the world but also builds in our own hearts love for others. It is the same love that Christ has for all people.” (pg. 63)

Reading this book helped me realize my own apathy often stands in the way of loving others. It encouraged me to seek sensitivity and intentionality with those who are different from me. It helped me to recognize my need for a heightened awareness of the ongoing struggles and challenges of my diverse brothers and sisters around me and encouraged me to embrace a working theology of ethnic diversity in the church. Trillia puts it this way:

“Diversity is worth having because diversity is about people, and people are worth fighting for. If God is mindful of man, shouldn’t we be (Psalm 8:3-4)?” (pg. 135)

Trillia goes above and beyond to make the Gospel message clear and it’s application tangible. She reminds readers the Gospel has broken down the dividing walls of hostility between sinners and their Holy, Righteous God. Because of this good news, we should live lives that reflect such unity. By pursuing relationships with people of every race we break down the walls still standing in our own lives. Using examples from her own life, she offers potential relational hang-ups and possible solutions for heading in the right direction.

This book isn’t a history lesson seeking to fill you in on America’s past. It also isn’t a diatribe, shaming people like me who simply haven’t put much though into diversity. This book is a peek into a young woman’s personal struggle to understand her identity as a black woman, a sinner saved by grace, and a Church member seeking her sanctification and God’s glory within the body of Christ. Trillia’s learned the Good News should impact how we view and pursue diversity in our lives and our churches and she calls us to learn too.

Pick up your copy of United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity, today!

**Win a copy by heading over to my blog and commenting with your name. Winner will be chosen Monday morning! (No purchase required, book will be shipped free of charge!)