Don't Waste This Ferguson Moment
I have hesitated from writing this post due to the passions of our culture when it comes to issues of race. I have hesitated because our church gathers in a diverse community in downtown Bowling Green. A diverse community with diverse opinions, diverse desires and diverse dreams that don't always sound unified. Especially, when it comes to moments like Ferguson. Or moments like the recent chokehold case of Eric Garner in New York City.
These moments of racial tension have the power to reveal our hearts. These moments reveal that our hearts are still racist. That our hearts are still segregated. That we desire to stay in our own circles around our "own people" more than striving for unity with all peoples. These moments reveal that being "One Nation under God" is more of a catchy slogan than the reality of our cities.
But just because these moments reveal this reality doesn't mean that the church should be comfortable with the reality. When moments like these reveal our sinful hearts, it's not time for the church to be complacent in our cities. It's time for our churches to be agents of change in our culture. We should have voices that cut through the noise and speak truth from God's Word.
I have hesitated to speak, but the gospel is too good for pastors to be silent.
In moments where press conferences give vague details and unclear conclusions. In moments where news coverage leave people more confused than bringing clarity to situations. The people of God need the gospel of God to cut through all the noise.
The church can look to no better place than the words of the gospel in Philippians 2. Paul writing to churches that could be filled with disunity reminds us where true unity comes from:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11 ESV)
What does the gospel have to say about this Ferguson moment? It says that our holy Savior, Jesus Christ, left heaven to redeem unholy sinners. He humbled himself to be a servant for sinners. To serve sinners and rescue them from their rebellious and racist hearts.
The power of the Gospel has the power to rescue us from our selfish hearts and our ingrown communities to strive to be one people in Christ. One people that have one voice that doesn't sound black or white or any other race but sounds like the voice of our Savior.
Paul in the above passage is not saying that your race should have one voice and be of the same mind and have the same love. Instead, it is saying that the church, made of people of all tribes, tongues and nations, should have one heart, one mind and one desire to see Christ glorified.
So, how will we not waste this Ferguson moment?
First, we have no place in the church for "those people" talk. We have to kill it in every church. I hear it all the time from Christians of all races. I hear black people saying "If white people would only. . . .(fill in the blank)." Or I hear white people say "All black people. . .(fill in the blank)." There is no place for this language in the people of God. If God is calling us to be one with Christ why does our language always sound divided.
Second, we strive to walk a mile in our brothers and sisters shoes. We will never be one in Christ and bridge the gap between races until we really want to know one another. It has to be our passion to listen to each other. To confess we have messed up in the past. To empathize with each others struggles. To understand each others heart. If we don't turn down our own selfish desires, we will never hear the hearts of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Third, Pray. Nothing will happen in our communities without prayer. We have to pray to God to work in people's hearts. To kill self-centeredness in our hearts. To create love in our hearts. This is not a hard prayer for the Lord to answer. Jesus himself prayed the garden “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." (John 17: 20-21) For the witness of the church and for the glory of God, pray for unity.
Finally, this will take nothing less than relationships with one another. We have to pull away from wanting to hang out with people that only look like us. God's people are made of people from every tribe, tongue, and nation, from different economic backgrounds, and various ages. So it would be foolish of me to only spend time with white people who are my same age and social status. We should all strive to have deep relationships with people from all over the kingdom of God. Diversity in God's community is a beautiful thing. It is so beautiful that Jesus died for every tribe, tongue and nation to display this beautiful redemption.
Brothers and sisters, let's not waste this moment. We can't say we love Jesus and not care about these issues. These are gospel issues. Christ Fellowship does minister in a community with diverse backgrounds and diverse opinions. Yet, in light of the gospel, we can't be satisfied with disunity among us. Instead, we have to strive to be a community of all peoples with one heart, one mind, and one love that is "For Christ, For Our Church and For Our City."
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