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Hidden Figures

• Nikole Mitchell

God’s Kingdom is breaking in upon this world in beautiful ways. Yet, many of us have a difficult time feeling on the inside of this movement, many of us struggle with feeling as though we are outsiders. In this message, Nikole Mitchell shows us through the movie “Hidden Figures” a central piece of the Gospel message that often gets neglected – that God has destroyed every wall that divides us as humans… He has taken every outsider, and made us insiders.

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This week in our Moving Pictures series, Nikole Mitchell presented clips from the movie “Hidden Figures,” a film about three black women who work at NASA in the 1960’s, amidst all white men and segregation. Starting from here, Nikole shows how God takes the outsiders of this world, and makes us them insiders in His Kingdom.

Movie Clip #1: The first movie clip shows one of the ladies running between NASA buildings in the rain and returning to work, only to get severely reprimanded by her superior for “disappearing” for 40 minutes, multiple times a day. She courageously thunders back at him, revealing that the only bathroom for “colored” people is a half of a mile away, and she must walk a total of 40 minutes just to relieve herself. The clip ends as she leaves the room, with every white male standing speechless.

Nikole then tells a personal story of being a third-generation Culture-Kid (TKC), and as a result of this, how she didn’t fit into any circle of friends in school. She ended up jumping around between cliques in order to look busy without looking lost. Inside, however, she was depressed and alone. She tried suicide, but when that did not work she turned to self-harm, drinking, drugs, and sex. One day as she was reading a book she felt the love of God wash over her, showing her the depths of His forgiveness – defeating the lie that “some how I was disqualified form God’s love.” She realized that this accepting Love had been there all along in Jesus, and one encounter with Jesus can change an outsider to an insider, the lost to be found, and the unloved and unworthy to the celebrated, loved, and accepted.

Jesus’ Kingdom is scandalous to this world, examples of this is Scripture, are how he recruits common fishermen for His students and women on His traveling team, invites tax collectors (viewed as traitors and thieves) to dinner, and touches the unclean with highly contagious and socially unacceptable skin issues. He could have merely healed these with a word, but He chose to touch them.

In the same way, Jesus has made insiders of all of us.

Ephesians 2:14-15: “For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace…”

In this passage, Paul is speaking about the Jew and Gentile divide of the first century, and how Jesus removed this cultural, religious, economical, and racial dividing wall completely…making these into one new humanity. He has the power to change our lives and our world, and He continues to do so today.

There were another group of outsiders in the first century: Eunuchs. At this time and place in history, there were three ways eunuchs were “made” eunuchs: (1) They were born that way, (2) They became “employed” in the king’s court and were made eunuchs by the king, to be trusted around the kings wives and harem, (3) Made eunuchs by themselves. In either case, this group was no longer seen as “men” (because they could not procreate) but were seen as women (which was an insult because women were property). They were not women, but were not seen as men either. Eunuchs were outsiders, and society had laws to keep outsiders “in their place” – at the margins of that society. They had no hope for family, no legacy, no one to carry on their name or “remember” them when they had gone.

But Jesus changed all of this.

Acts 8:26-39: “Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.”

This Eunuch was from ancient Ethiopia (modern-day Northern Sudan) and had gone to Jerusalem to worship – and was probably rejected and sent away. As he was reading the Scripture, he maybe thought to himself, “Who is this person who has suffered so much rejection and injustice – who has been such an outsider…just like me?” Philip comes to him and explains and proclaims that this person is Jesus, the Messiah! This eunuch must have felt emboldened with human dignity once again. Forbidden from religious activity, he saw water and instantly wanted to be baptized, and Philip baptized him. This outsider, was now eternally in – through Christ. What do you think he did upon returning home? Church tradition maintains that he brought the gospel to Africa and was instrumental in further building the church there.

This is what God does for us – He can take those like Philip and the Eunuch, from opposite ends of the social spectrum, and make them ONE in Christ.

You, me, and all of us have been made insiders – there are no longer any outsiders. The Kingdom of God is full inclusion of those pushed to the margins of society. We don’t get to be gatekeepers. So how do we live this out?

Movie Clip #2: The scene opens where the first leaves off. As the woman, frustrated from her rebuke, walks out of the room with all speechless, her superior “gets it.” We see him heading toward the “colored bathroom” with a crow bar. He begins to hit the sign above the bathroom door that reads “Colored Ladies Room” and breaks it down. He then says authoritatively, yet ashamedly, “There are no more colored restrooms. There are no more white restrooms. Here at NASA, we’re all the same color.”

Nikole urges us to seal this truth on our minds and hearts. We are in. Fully loved. Fully welcomed. This is good news for everyone.

Just like Jesus was with Nikole in her struggles all along, God has been a loving parent to us the whole time.

Nikole shared three take-away points:

1. You’ve been made an insider.

2. …So has everyone else. (This one may need a bit of meditation and repentance)

3. Be the kind of church where no one is invisible, excluded, or left out.

Nikole closes by reminding us that Christ has made insiders of all of us. And this changes everything.

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Topics: Peace, Reconciliation, Relationships

Sermon Series: Moving Pictures

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Focus Scripture:

  • Ephesians 2:14-15

    For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace...

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