Ministry of Reconciliation, Part 1: Bleed into One
I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colours will bleed into one
Bleed into one.
But yes, I'm still running.
–U2 in “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” 
While I love the band and I love the song, this phrase bothers me. I’m not a skilled painter, so believe me when I tell you that when too many colors “bleed into one,” it creates this hideous mud color with which I’m all too familiar. So as Bono pines for the kingdom come, my mind’s eye sees only the drab colors of Mordor. But the rocker is right about one thing—the way we view the kingdom come gives shape to lives today. When we pray, “Your Kingdom come; your will be done,” our vision of heaven guides our work on earth. This is why I am enthralled by the words of Rev. 21:23-26.
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (emphasis added)
I had never noticed this image as a child. If I had, I might not have been so terrified by the idea of eternity in heaven. My picture of the Bible’s final scene was remarkably similar to its opening scene—formless and void. I never quite bought into the cartoon version with clouds and harps, but neither did I accept the streets-of-gold version. This left me with vague impressions of an eternal worship service with people who all looked like me, stale crackers, grape juice, 728C (the heavenly sequel), and the possible addition of fog machines. What a nightmare!
So imagine my ecstasy upon realizing what these verses were saying. The glory, honor, and splendor of the nations will be featured in our eternal home! Today, when I picture heaven, I see a visual feast of paintings, sculptures, tapestries, textiles, and historical artifacts from across the globe. But more than sights, I can now smell and taste the heavenly feast. The aromas of curries, kalbi, sushi, pasta, naan, and tacos evoke an inward groaning that words cannot express (though to be fair, I guess hunger sufficiently expresses that groaning).
As exciting as it would be to follow this train of thought, I have to admit that Revelation is not as concerned with the cuisine as it is about the human participants. The final scene is not a matter of all colors blending into one. Rather, it is about the full and beautiful array of humanity living in perfect unity with God and with each other. Our unique stories and cultures are not things to be expunged or blended. Our stories will be told. Our cultures will be represented. Our cultural accomplishments will be highlighted—not muted. So if this is the heavenly kingdom we are to seek, we obviously still haven’t found what we’re looking for.
During a television interview in 1960, Martin Luther King Jr. lamented that Sunday morning worship is possibly the most segregated hour of the week. Nearly 60 years later, his words still ring true. While some shrug this off as natural, my friend Maurice Dent and I agree with King that a segregated church is “standing against the Spirit and the teachings of Jesus Christ, and it fails to be a true witness.”  Maurice’s experience among predominantly black congregations and my experience among predominantly white congregations have left us longing for more. While racial justice and reconciliation involve more than just the black-white relationship, we believe that at this time in North Carolina, this relationship demands our attention and efforts more than any other.
In two upcoming articles, Maurice and I will share some of the challenges we see facing our respective groups (Part 2) and explore some preliminary thoughts about a way forward (Part 3). Our context is unique as are our perspectives. It is not our intention to prescribe a solution for other contexts. Rather, it is our hope that by sharing our stories, we might help others to imagine what the “ministry of reconciliation” might look like in their own particular contexts. I think it looks less like colors bleeding into one, and more like appreciating the vivid contrasts of unique, complementary hues.
 https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/interview-meet-press, second-to-last paragraph before footnotes.