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?

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Vengeance is Not Ours

Screenshot 2016-06-15 at 11.06.17 AMOur collective attention has been focused on Orlando since Sunday. Every angle of that story, from terrorism to gun control, has been covered. Stories with that much media attention I usually avoid commenting on completely; everything that can be said pretty much has been (whether it should have been or not).

Omar Matten reported posted “All gays must die” before the shooting starting. While Americans debate whether bakers and florists should be closed down for refusing to serve LGBT customers, homosexuality is still punishable by death in Muslim countries. I don’t want this post to disintegrate into a political discussion, but some Christians have questioned the current administration’s support of gay rights and also tolerance of Islam in light of those two things not necessarily being tolerant of each other. I want to remind all Christian believers that vengeance belongs to God. Continue reading

Did Judas Preach the Gospel?

Judas returns 30 pieces of silverThe spiritual condition of Judas is an age-old debate and not the one I mean to engage in today. I want to add a new wrinkle to the discussion; did Judas preach the Gospel? When the Apostles were sent out with the power to heal the sick and cast out demons (Matthew 10, Luke 9) did Judas do those things as well?

 

Prophetic Words

Screenshot 2016-01-11 at 5.49.38 AMI saw a quote the other day, see if this sounds about right.

“It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God’s professed children are bored with Him, for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments.”

Continue reading

From the Archives: I Preached on Baby Diapers

This is reposted from October 31, 2010 

Father’s Day, June 2010

I know what you’re thinking: the stress of working in full time ministry with a 14 month old at home has finally caused me to crack.  I reached a breaking point if my sermon is on changing diapers.  It’s not as bad as all that.  Let me explain.

Last week I preached this sermon on Galatians 4.  It’s about God adopting us into his family.  I had three well-defined points, as a good Baptist preacher should.  Today I preached that same sermon for our students in their Sunday a.m. chapel service.  I can’t take for granted that 6-12 graders know their Bible stories that way my church congregation does.  I cut some of the scripture citations and needed a more colorful analogy or two.  The first point in the sermon is that we are naturally the enemies of God.  He says “Do this” and instead we do that.  Adam and Eve are the first example, and not much has changed since.  I talked about how cute Johannah is; all our students know this to be true.  But when we’re changing a diaper, sometimes she quits being so cute.  If she sits up, rolls over, or otherwise tries to escape then everything takes longer.  We have to do things twice; or three times.  The students all smiled, nodded and laughed.  Then I pointed out that in my history class some of them are the same way.  I have to repeat myself and/or do things twice.  Sometimes three times.  That’s our nature.

It gets worse.  God sent his Son.  Like the father of the prodigal, God waits and watches down the road for us to come home.  The prodigal son (Luke 15) spent a fortune on good food, good wine and loose women.  Eventually he hit rock bottom, and desired the same slop that he fed pigs.  He had to learn that lesson the hard way.  You couldn’t have told him any different, and if the father had come looking for him any sooner, he would have ran as fast as he could in the other direction.  We were all wallowing (or are still wallowing) in our own filth.  We are slaves to sin, whatever sin you want to fill in the blank with.  If my daughter Johannah has filled her diaper, then she is basically sitting there in her own mess.  She stinks.  Yet when I reach for her she runs away.  She ducks and dodges.  Her natural impulse is to escape the diaper change.  Are we any different?  We wallow in our filthy sin, in our own mess, and push God away even as he wants to clean us.

God loved us when we were unlovable.  That’s the Gospel.  And if you have kids, had kids, or know parents with new kids, fell free to preach the Gospel according to dirty diapers.

Preaching the Hell Sermon

Screenshot 2015-10-08 at 1.39.55 PMI have been the pastor of Unity Baptist Church for one year. (We have an anniversary luncheon coming up this Sunday as a matter of fact.) I have preached 51 of the past 52 consecutive Sunday services without preaching a sermon on hell. It may have come up but was never the subject. The Master’s Table has been online since 2008 and there is not a post with hell in the title. And when I did finally preach that sermon (link here for those interested) it was a message about heaven, hell and an exhortation to share the Gospel. Continue reading

He Lives; Now What?

Romans 8 11“I serve a risen savior, he’s in the world today.” Those are the opening words to the hymn He Lives (Alfred Henry Ackley, 1933). Easter Sunday has come and gone, but Jesus is more than alive, he is risen! He was dead and became the firstborn of the resurrection. Jesus told Martha in John 11:25 that he is the resurrection. Death, hell and the grave have been defeated. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55 Continue reading