Going Deeper with the Message:
Images of God in a Broken World
by: Ben Biles
On Sunday, Pastor Tim discussed the problem of racism in its current context. Far from being resolved in the aftermath of the Civil War or at the end of the Civil Rights Movement, racism in our country has revealed itself to be systemic in nature. While individuals might see themselves as non-racist, the large picture dictates that we all are a part of a system in which white people have general economic and social advantages over people of color. This leads to the continued suffering of people of color under a prejudiced system. Believers in God understand that this runs contrary to the will of our God.
In Scripture, we see an important truth concerning all human beings: all people are created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27). As bearers of God’s image, we have a responsibility to treat all people equally with love and grace for they are also made in his image. But as broken, sinful human beings, we have the natural tendency to self-centeredness that blinds us to the needs of others. We entrench ourselves in our own personal views and fail to recognize the injustice within our nation. Racism grows stronger when we close ourselves off to the suffering of others. Now, we cannot help but see those made in God’s image shamefully treat others who are made in the same image.
As believers, we know that the gospel of Jesus frees us from sin and enables us to live in alignment with God’s character. In order to combat hatred, violence, and oppression, we need to cultivate the attitudes of humility and love with a view toward action. We need to actively seek out those who are hurting, and, in love, move to help and to bring healing, even at our own expense. The love of Jesus meant sacrificing himself on a cross for our sins so that we may be free. We must ask ourselves, “what sacrifice does loving others require of me?”
Throughout his life, Jesus shows the compassion of God by going to the poor, the lame, the deaf, the mute, the broken, and the needy. He goes to those taken advantage of, who have little to no power in the current system, and he speaks with love and uses his power to heal. If we are to be reflections of Jesus, bearers of his image, bearers of the name Christian even, we have a responsibility to do as Jesus did. We must recognize the broken system we are a part of and then use our lives and our voices to extend God’s love to the oppressed and hurting people.
Living out the Message:
Unity in Diversity
By Ben Biles
For all believers, we know that the moment we placed our faith in Jesus Christ, our lives changed forever. Through our faith, God gave us eternal life and the ability to know him in a personal relationship. We were indwelled by His Holy Spirit and are now able to understand God. In the light of His infinite holiness, we saw clearly our own imperfections, sins, and vices, but experienced the restoration and salvation that only He could provide. Still, as we journey through life, we understand our failings and weaknesses, but rely on God’s grace and provision. Though we struggle with sin, we strive for righteousness.
When it comes to the racism and injustice we see in our nation, we must also realize our part in it. In humility, we must acknowledge the ways in which we’ve failed in our ignorance and inactivity to counteract racism. Yet, we must not lose hope, for God is transforming our minds and hearts to align with His own. Even more, God is working and moving in our world and is uniting His people to reach the world with His love and grace. Though we are imperfect and still in the process of growing in faith, we get to be a part of God’s mission, and He has supplied us with His Spirit to accomplish His will. Yet, we must understand that this is a call to action that places us outside our comfort zone.
It would be naive to think that the problem of racism could be resolved quickly and simply, but there are steps we can begin to take on this journey. Tony Evan, a black pastor from Dallas, acknowledged this truth, but encouraged his listeners of all races to start by reaching out to families outside of their cultural background and establish consistent, intentional relationships. Then, he encouraged them to serve together in a meaningful way. If thousands upon thousands of believers started doing this, it would impact our nation in incredible ways. It would showcase an antidote to racism—that God has united diverse communities of His people who are serving together in love. But it starts with one person reaching out to another. It starts with you.
This week, I encourage you to reach out to a family or an individual of a different culture background than your own and start building that relationship. This step will take you out of your comfort zone, but God will use it to transform you and build up your faith in way that can truly impact others.