A Christian Response to Racism

biblePerhaps a better title would be A Scriptural Response to Racism but this is copied and pasted directly from a Facebook post I put up yesterday. There is so much upheaval in the world today and we are bombarded with information from traditional media to social media 24/7. When it gets to be too much, the Christian believer needs to step back, take a breath, and remember that we are in the world but not of the world. 

I don’t mean an official resolution passed by any group of representatives from any church denomination; my congregation will tell you that we read a lot of scripture. Every sermon, every Wednesday night Bible study, every Sunday school lesson begins with reading scripture and keeps going back to it. So this is not any particular Christian leader’s response to racism, this should be “our” response to hate and racism anywhere based on the inspired Word we live by.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, -Revelation 7:9 ESV

Our purpose, while studying the scriptures and being filled with and led by the Holy Spirit, is to build the Kingdom. We are sent into the world to share the Gospel. Not with people that look like, dress like and speak like us, but with all people everywhere made in God’s image. Our call is to love others as we have been loved. According to the Great Commission Jesus gave his followers:

Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. -Mark 16:15

Because as Paul wrote to the church at Galatia:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. -Galatians 3:28

The differences we see when we look at each other are temporary. Paul goes on in Galatians 3 to say that those of us who are in Christ have put on Christ. That’s what matters. Skin color, economic status, national origin, language, gender and so forth are categories we divide each other into in this world, during this lifetime. The critics of Christianity will tell you that the Bible endorses slavery and demeans women; those criticisms are meant to keep us divided and prevent people from hearing the Good News which is that none of those distinctions matter. Hearing and believing the Word of God matters. Receiving mercy, grace and salvation matters. Everything else is details. Life is short while the Kingdom of God John saw in Revelation will begin when heaven and earth pass away.

God looks past all the outside things and sees the condition of the heart. There are only two kinds of people; those who have received Christ and those that need to. God sees either a person he loves who loves him in return or a person he loves that refuses to accept that. Our response to racism should be: get past it. We need to love people of other races and we need to love racists. Wait, what? Yes I said that. We need to love people of every color, gender, language and ideology, include those that agree and disagree with our own. Klan members, Nazis, illegal immigrants and radical Islamic terrorists are made in God’s image and Jesus died so they could live. That’s a statement that is bound to be unpopular but do this: read that Revelation 7 text again. Study the words of Jesus to his disciples and the letters of Paul to the churches. Then come back and tell me who are we are supposed to hate.

It may look like the whole world is going nuts right now. What else is new? Heaven and earth will pass away but the Word of God will not (Mark 13:31, paraphrase my own). Chose this day whom you will serve (see Joshua 24:14-25) and in our case it’s not a choice between the Lord and the gods of Egypt; will we serve the media hype, a political party, the culture and societal norms, our own selfish ambition… or will we serve the cause of the Gospel, the coming Kingdom, the Maker of heaven and earth?

“Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”

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Have You Studied These Women in the Bible?

Looking for women in the Bible? Sure, you got your Proverbs 31 woman and your Mary’s and Martha’s. But do you know about Deborah the prophetess who commanded armies of Israel? Or Jael wife of Heber, who drove a tent stake through Sisera’s head, nailing him to the ground? You probably haven’t heard that sermon.

Judges 4 gives the narrative account, chapter 5 is the musical!

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This pic was not in my coloring book.

(Just a Few) Things Jesus Said

In preparation for the Passion week and Easter, I’ve been preaching a series of sermons on things that Jesus said. Before we started, a 4-part series seemed like a lot. Now I almost wish we had started in January!

Most of these are taken from the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. They all try to cover too much ground for a single sermon, but let’s be honest: Jesus said some good stuff! I hope you enjoy.

Love Your Enemies 

Lay Up Treasures in Heaven 

Build Your House on the Rock 

Whoever Receives You Receives Me

What is the Deal with Aramaic?

Screenshot 2016-03-03 at 10.43.04 AM‘Tis the season when various broadcast networks and cable channels will start showing Bible films even if they don’t offer religious programming the rest of the year. Look for The Passion of the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth and, for reasons I never understood, The Ten Commandments on a t.v. near you. If you have never seen The Passion of the Christ (2004, directed by Mel Gibson) be prepared for subtitles. The dialogue of the entire film is spoken in Aramaic. Continue reading

Taming the Tongue?

Screenshot 2016-02-24 at 9.44.56 AMJames 3:1-12 is a well known portion of scripture about the mighty fires set by a small tongue. We put bits in horses mouths and rudders on great ships to steer them, and the tongue is a small member as well that boasts of great things.

The ESV and NIV subject headings title this passage Taming the Tongue. I prefer the NKJV headline, The Untamable Tongue. James doesn’t give a command to tame the tongue or instructions on how one might do so. He actually writes that “no human being can tame the tongue.” He compares blessings and cursings coming from the same mouth to a spring that gives fresh and salt water, concluding that “these ought not to be so.” He does not say, however, that anything can be done about it.

Your thoughts?

 

Bible Gateway Plus

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Everything that has been available for free at Bible Gateway will stay that way, and they promise it always will. But after “many months of planning, coding, and beta testing” Bible Gateway Plus is now live.

This blog post explains everything the new service makes available, and the list is pretty extensive. You can try the new premium service free for 30 days by clicking here to register. After the free trial the ad-free service is only $3.99 per month.