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22 January 2016

#OscarsSoWhite: where the Oscars fail, the Church needs to succeed

#OscarsSoWhite: where the Oscars fail, the Church needs to succeed

Far from being the highlight of the cinematic year, the 2016 Oscars have been plagued with negativity, due to all 20 actors nominated being white for the second year in a row. This prompted the Academy’s head, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, to issue a statement saying she was “heartbroken”, and many high-profile celebs to speak out, some pushing for a complete boycott and for host Chris Rock to stand down.
Despite the fact that we are probably all rooting for Leo anyway, it’s preposterous to think that this has happened again. In a world where black, Hispanic and Asian actors play pivotal roles on the big and small screens, are you telling me not even one of them was worthy to be nominated for an Oscar?
As Christians, we need to be the ones who stand against a culture that devalues human dignity and discriminates against people just because they are a different race or ethnicity from the majority.  
The Church, the bride of Christ, should be a reflection of heaven: a foretaste of the new creation, where the multitude gather around the throne and worship the Lamb. Every tribe, tongue, creed - everybody. Paul said in Christ there is no slave, free, Jew or Gentile. We’re all the same, made from dust, sinful, frail, deserving nothing. Yet God, in His grace, crowns us with dignity and purpose, He gives us a new heavenly status. We’re co-heirs of the promise, no matter our background, nationality or social standing.
Does your church and your friendship group reflect this? If you live in a city or multicultural area, is your church diverse? And I don’t just mean race: what about age-wise, or in terms of income? Do you welcome the poor and the needy? The sick? The marginalised? This is the type of Church Jesus sought to build.
I challenge you on Sunday to look across the row of chairs and ask yourself whether the people sitting next to you look like you. Does your church reflect - in as much as you can help it - the marriage feast of the lamb?
We do this not to tick a box but so that the world will see a reflection of our God by the way we love each other, despite our differences: by our unity. Our Trinitarian God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is the perfect example of complete love and unity amidst diversity, and this is something the Church should seek to emulate.
I love my church, and I think we do this quite well. One of my favourite things is seeing marriages across races and cultures: I even hopped on the bandwagon a few years ago, and married a Chinese-Malaysian man. I love my Asian family: I love learning about the culture, visiting far-off places, and most of all I love the food! What richness and joy comes from being among different cultures. My life has been enhanced greatly, not just by my husband and his family, but by the rich heritage and perspectives of my church family and friends. It is a foretaste of heaven, and it makes me long even more for that final and eternal party.
In this video John Piper shares his own story about race and the gospel, with the hymn by former slaver John Newton subtly sounding in the background. Think and pray about what a witness to our imperfect world - and to the Oscars - could be if the Church fully lived this out. 
Rebecca Tan manages media and youth and children’s work at Westminster Chapel in London.

Image: Disney ABC Television Group