Uncomfortable Discussing Diversity

Feedback from a congregation member on how God worked through our recent study of Acts 6:1-7

One of the members of my church sent me an email after this past sermon, “Deeper Unity in a Deeper Diversity.” This person has given me permission to share this.

I share it with hopes that we can benefit from this person’s experience and honesty. May God help us all as we seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit in God’s church.

Disclaimer: The person not only shared his/her experiences. He/she shared some encouraging words to me about the sermon. I’m not trying to share this to imply that my sermon was good or anything like that. I’m sure many good folks heard the sermon and may not have come to the same conclusions as I have. But this person’s sharing nonetheless encourages and challenges me to reflect upon my own soul.

Email excerpt (italics mine):

In my second year of college, a group of new students joined my small group. They were loud, rowdy, and disruptive. I felt like they invaded my small group and permanently destroyed what it had and could have been… and I was bitter for this for many years.

Your sermon today really opened my eyes. I wanted diversity, but not difficulty… and if I didn’t want difficulty, then I’m really cherry-picking my “diversity”, which means I’m really not all about diversity at all… which means, I actually like convenience! I was so upset at having my awesome, comfortable small group shattered, that I just gave up trying to get to know them. I immediately thought, “It’s ruined, it’s over, it’s different now FOREVER!” I didn’t want to change the way I thought about things, I just had what I wanted in my head and wanted everyone else to fit it regardless of how different they were. It was tough for me to confront that about myself.

But anyway, wanted to thank you for the sermon today, it was very convicting and caused me to think about some things that I maybe didn’t really want to think about.

“Deeper Unity in a Deeper Diversity”
by Enoch Liao

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This was the second in a two part sermon series for a Race & Culture Emphasis (RACE) I preached at my church, which is a Chinese heritage church. To find a Sermon Discussion Guide for this sermon, click here.

What do I mean by “Chinese heritage church”? I mean that it’s a church with a heritage of being Chinese. My church was started by Chinese people and in Chinese languages. But going to the future, only God knows what will happen. You don’t have to identify as ethnically Chinese to belong to our church. But you probably have to be OK with being around a bunch of Chinese people!

PS – Sorry for talking too fast at times during this sermon!

Sex in the 20s

Reflections on this quote.

At a recent dinner party, a woman and I got into a conversation about raising our kids. Our conversation moved towards preparing our kids to face issues about drinking alcohol and sex. She and her husband had practiced a technique that I’ve been hearing more parents doing. When it came to sex and drinking, she told me, she wanted her kids to get it out of their systems before college while they still lived at home.

So, she and her husband tried to get her son drunk. She wanted her son to understand what it felt like so that he could be better prepared. This way, he would know if say, the punch bowl was spiked. This way, he would know how bad a hangover feels like. She figured everyone in college was drinking and having sex. And this would better prepare her son for the road ahead.

I commented that, according to what I’ve read, the number of college kids getting drunk and having sex may be lower than what most people think, which seems to be “Everybody is having sex!” I told her that I most of the friends I had in college, regardless of their religious background, didn’t get drunk and most didn’t have sex regularly. She responded with a look that communicated utter disbelief.

So this quote above by David Brooks piqued my interest. I have not yet checked the background of this quote. But the fact that David Brooks wrote this (and in the NYT), I figure he’s putting his own reputation on the line to make such a reference.

Granted, Match.com is not a hard-core scientific foundation. And there are both good and bad surveys. And we are prone to survey bias. But this quote still strikes me.

I admit that I’m not sure how to feel/think if this statistic is accurate. As a Christian, you’d figure my sex ethics should come from the Bible. As such, I’d encourage people to save sex until a fully committed marriage. But even still, I think many people figured the number would be much higher.

If you read the rest of David’s column, you’ll see that he points out millennials may seem more liberal than boomers, but in many ways they are also more conservative.

“Cross Barriers”
by Enoch Liao

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Cross Barriers (Race & Culture Emphasis 2016, part 1)
January 10, 2016

I’ve been reflecting upon race, culture, ethnicity, and diversity actively for the better part of the past 10 years. This begins a sermon series on Race and Culture Emphasis. I’m thinking to preach on this topic around January in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I also wanted to preach on this in light of the fact that I’ve been a part of churches with an ethnic heritage.

Some people have asked if I preached this sermon in light of any specific recent events. The answer is “no.” I’m not responding or reacting to any one event. Rather, I’ve been pondering this topic for years, and now feel like my biblical reflection is at a point where it may be helpful to preach on this topic to my church and to whomever may hear.