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?

Acts of God

screenshot-2016-10-06-at-3-13-48-pmHurricane Matthew is about to come along the southeast coast of the United States. I was watching a guy on the news talk about what is and is not covered by various types of insurance. Some people find out after the fact, for example, that flood damage is not covered by a typical homeowner’s policy and you must specifically purchase flood insurance. Wind damage and other “acts of God” may be included or excluded in the fine print of the policy documents. And that statement got me to thinking. Continue reading

Good Shepherd; Lamb of God

jesus_shepherdIs Jesus the sheep or the shepherd?

Just about every animal has some unique feature that allows it to defend itself from predators. Some have incredible speed, such as deer, while others have sharp claws, powerful muscles or rows of gleaming teeth. Some animals camouflage themselves into the background while the purpose of some camouflage, like that of zebra, make it difficult to distinguish individuals from the group. Even the slow, ungraceful skunk has a very potent defense mechanism. Just about every animal has something, it seems, except sheep. It’s almost as if God intended them to be food for other animals. Sheep are very nearsighted and have to be led to food and water. They cannot drink fast moving water and can actually drown trying. They have to be led to food, led to shelter, and protected from every type of danger. The Bible uses sheep of all things to represent people. Continue reading

(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

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?