Gracefully Truthful

Broken,Christ,church,Courage,Freedom,Justice,Kingdom

Read His Words Before Ours!

Ephesians 2:11-22
Luke 4:16-21
Galatians 3:27-29
2 Corinthians 5:17-18
Isaiah 49:5-6

The past three years have been one of the most increasingly divisive seasons I have ever experienced in my country (the US) in my lifetime. Certainly, this was, in part, due to trauma we all experienced as a result of Covid. But another major aspect of this division hit the national spotlight following the tragic death of George Floyd in May 2020. Racial injustice has been an on-going evil for generations, but when Floyd was killed on display for all to see, the ready-embers of injustice that had been growing hotter just below the surface, roared into view in a way none could continue to ignore. 

Today, claims of injustice – and attacks levied against those who dare to acknowledge and condemn injustice! – have reached a fever pitch. Derogatorily labeling people as “woke” or “liberal” as an excuse to ignore reality by refusing to look full into the face of oppression while erecting ever-higher racial dividing walls  has become commonplace in many circles – including Christians. 

My friends, this ought not be so.

Make no mistake, I’m not encouraging blind advocacy or any sociopolitical agenda with my words, I’m calling us to study and hold dear #HisWordsBeforeOurs; this requires Spirit-led discernment. But as followers of Christ, the One who referred to Himself as THE truth (John 14:6), one of most effective ways we demonstrate Christ’s love is by being “slow to speak and quick to listen” (James 1:19-20).

When we adhere to Christ’s teaching in this, the beautiful results are
we learn from others,
we actively pursue truth over opinion or prejudice, and
we cultivate the caring heart of Christ toward all who suffer injustice. 

These ideas of justice, freedom, and an end to oppression are foundational to the very nature of the Gospel itself. In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus describes His mission by quoting Isaiah 61:1 as He stood in the synagogue (Luke 4:16-21):

The Spirit of the LORD is on me,
because He has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.” 

Anytime one nationality is set up against another as “better”….
Anytime people are divided along racial lines…
Anytime racism rears its ugly head…
The Gospel is to come in on the arms, ears, and lips of Love as the Bearer of Truth and a harbinger of Good News.

Not only are we all image bearers of God (Genesis 1:26-27), equal in God’s sight from the beginning, but the Gospel declares the restoration of what sin has ruined in our relationships with others. 

You see, not only does the Gospel have vertical implications (reconciling us to God, Galatians 3:27), but it has horizontal implications, as well as it reconciles us with one another. Early Church preacher and apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:28, “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine) We are now one family, one Church; we have been reconciled to God and redeemed for His purposes. His grand purpose? To be His own Ambassadors of Reconciliation with one another as believers while carrying the Ministry of Reconciliation throughout the world. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

The Church.
US.
Harbingers of the Best News Ever.
Slashing through hate walls and barriers of injustice on the arms of love as we listen well and anchor our ready feet in the Gospel of the Savior who laid Himself down in humility to rescue us. (Ephesians 6:15)

Likewise, Ephesians 2:11-14 confirms, “So, then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh—called the ‘uncircumcised’ by those called ‘the circumcised,’ which is done in the flesh by human hands. At that time, you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.”

Where human sinfulness erects divisions along ethnic, national, socioeconomic, and gender lines, the Gospel says, “No more.”

Psalm 62:10 declares God’s heart when he sings, “Place No Trust In Oppression.”
For His mercy triumphs and His mercy relentless pursues. (James 2:13 and Psalm 23:6, ESV)

Christ’s blood shed on the cross brought the eradication of our segregated lives,
separated by walls of hostility.

A divisive lifestyle has no place among those who bear the name of Christ, for it directly counters what He came to accomplish. Galatians 3:14 confirms, “The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

God desires His Church to be one holy, redeemed family, showing love, equality, justice, respect, and honor for each member. This is our mission, friends. This is how we operate, together, as the holy temple (Ephesians 2:21) and the holy nation (1 Peter 2:9-10) we have been created to be in Christ.

One practical way I have sought to live this out is to be a listening ear, practice proximity, and have a sense of curiosity. I no longer act as if I know everything and understand what others have been though. I am determined to listen to the lived experiences of others, to learn and discover what they have been through, and to prayerfully consider how I can be the hands and feet of Christ. 

It’s hard work sometimes, friends, but it is important.
I invite you to join me in the journey!

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