I Know Someone Who Can Kill Your Racism


I write as a Christian, here.  And the Christian has a unique calling in the face of things like Charlottesville, because the Christian has something that can truly dismantle these evils.  

 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. 

Galatians 3:27-29

There is nothing in the universe that can unify human beings with more power and more permanence than the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth.  Where the Gospel is believed and lived out, racial hatred cannot long live.  There is no Jew nor Greek among His people.  

But let me put the disease under the microscope for a second.  Pride is at the heart of what we call “racism.”  And pride divides.  Now, the Gospel divides, too, but in a very different way.  Where pride seeks to exalt the self by demeaning some other person or group, the Gospel divides the redeemed, those made meek and holy by the Father, Son, and Spirit, from the hardeharted and impenitent.  Pride divides by breaking an island off from a continent; the Gospel divides by chiseling off a family from a mob.  And pride produces men who hate those from whom they’ve divided.  The Gospel produces men who pity those still in the mob.  

Now let me step away from the microscope and use what we just saw to form a hypothesis:  If you let the racially proud have their way, if you gave them a country made up of people who only share their skin color, it would only take about 10 years before they would start turning on each other for some other reason.  They would find a new way to identify the “pure” or the “fit,” and of course in each individual’s case that ideal citizen would always be someone just like himself.  Because pride always exalts the self, and thus it always produces factions.  Proud people always end up with smaller and smaller circles, because they always want to be the one at the center of those circles.  And a circle can only have one center.  

Allow me an athletic metaphor:  Pride always ends up being a solo sport.

But now back to the Gospel.  The Gospel sets a man’s sight on the One who is truly the center of the universe.  It takes a man out of himself.  It makes him hate who he was and love who his neighbors are.  It does to pride what RoundUp does to weeds.  And so here we as Christians stand with something, and truth be told it’s the only thing, that can kill what’s killing people.  The only thing that can destroy racial hatred and its cause.  Here we have something that can bring men and women of all shades and all cultures together forever in the face of a sin that pits one violent heart against another.  We have the power of the living, triune God:  His Gospel.  The Good News of the Christ who died to save sinners through faith in His Name.  This thing does what no law nor education nor mere moral reform can:  It kills old men and brings forth new ones.  It slays proud men and resurrects them humble ones.  We stand in a world of divided people, and we have something that doesn’t merely force black and white, old and young, city and rural people to tolerate each other; it changes them into men and women who want to die for each other.  

We have a power, here Christian.  

So, I know someone who can kill your racism.  

He is the maker of all men, the King of all cultures, and the Savior of people from every tribe and tongue.  

He is the God of the Gospel.  

He is Jesus the Christ.  

30 Seconds On How To Be a Real Human


The Gospel is the most humanizing thing available to a man, because nothing is as humanizing or as freeing as being a desperate man in need of forgiveness and getting it.  

We need to be made new, we need a fresh start with our Maker, and the Gospel is that Jesus died and rose to give us that.  

I don’t need more self-esteem or self-affirmation or self-realization in order to reach my full potential as a human being.  I need my evils deeds forgiven, my evil heart changed, and the power to live the loving and humble way that humans were designed to live.  And the Gospel is that Jesus can give all that by the power of God.  

There is nothing more humanizing than being changed by that message.   There is no fuller humanity than Gospel humanity.  

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 

Ephesians 4:18-24

Turn And Be Blessed


One of the chief ways God blesses a man is by turning him away from his wickedness. 

God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.

Acts 3:26

Strapped for time today, so allow me to get directly to my point.  I see a pervasive reluctance to call sin sin in the wider Christian environment in America.  Not in every Christian church or in every Christsian home or in every Christian pub, but definitely as the majority posture of the mainstream American Protestant environment.  I see a fear of offending the dominant culture, the one that is dark and under the sway of Satan and in need of a Savior (see Ephesians 2:1-3).  It’s a sort of, “Yes, yes, we know abortion is murder and homosexuality is sinful, but why do we have to talk about it?”  And the answer of course is that people are dying, because sin both physically and spiritually kills.  And we have no problem talking about racial hatred or greed or judgmentalism being sinful, because those are chic and acceptable and cool conversations to have in 2017 America.  But a prophet doesn’t call for repentance from only the sins everybody is in agreement on.  And every nation needs Godly prophets.  

Every nation needs men and women who will tell it all that the Bible says.  

The Word of God is a good thing, meaning it is a thing meant for our good and it is itself intrinsically good and beautiful and true.  Our neighbors need it.  And we need to have the conviction that they need it.  We should lovingly, patiently tell people, people we care for and sacrifice for and listen to, about their wickedness.  

Or they’ll never turn from it and be blessed.  

Long, Long Shadows and A Light


Sin never stops where you think it will. 

Your repeated anger leads to latent bitterness which leads to relationship-destroying gossip.  

Your pornography-viewing leads to unmarital sex which leads to one parent raising a child in isolation which leads to crippling resentment.  

Unchecked sin always spreads, and kills where it does.  Like cancer.  

But one of the beautiful mercies of God is that He has given us a community where sin and its scars can be dealt with.  

The church.  


Churches are little cities of imperfect people, people who have been miraculously remade and who, by the grace of a very real and very compassionate God, continually confess and continually turn from the sins they still commit.  They know who they were (spiritually dead evil people), they know who they are (spiritually alive people being slowly made more and more like Jesus), and they know who God is (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who love to save sinners).  And because of these 3 things, these little collections of Gospel people are able to bring wicked and broken and scared and angry humans into their midst and minister to them.  Serve them.  Help to stop the bleeding in their lives.  

The world is home to all stripes of sinners who are in different stages of the pain or disarray or death that sin brings along as its trail.  And there is no one else who can get to the root of the chaos or who can apply supernatural salve to the wounds of all this sin like the church can.  She has been given the Good News that can heal and can save people from their evils, and from the evils that were committed against them.  She can rescue them from the worst of the violence and the trouble and the affliction of this world.  

Which is great, because this is not Mayberry.  This is a world of adultery and ulterior motives and hearts who will cast those they love aside for pleasure or power.  This is a world where sin has left some long, long shadows.  Sons deserted by their fathers, marriages in flames because of selfishness, grown men and women who don’t know how to be men or women.  And there in the heart of this world stands the church, giving the hope and the truth and the life that only she can give.  

This world needs her.  The single mothers and the heroin addicts and the workaholics and the shallowest of womanizers need her.  She is a city on a hill.  

She is where they can come for possibility.  For hope.  For adoption into a forever family.  She is where they can sojourn for all of the things that only Jesus can hand over.  

For everyone trapped in what sin has spoiled, churches are households of transforming mercy.  They are families of forgiveness.  They are little peoples of honest confession and honest love and honest Gospel.  

This is a world of long shadows.  Because sin never stops where it whispers it will.   Sin never keeps that promise.  

But the God of the Cross has given a light that can beat those shadows back.  His church holds that light in her hands, for any and all to come see.  

Let This War Kill Him


One of the most freeing parts about being a Christian is being on the right side in a war that’s already been won.  

And one of the villains who has been laid down in that war is all of the worst things inside of yourself.  

We’re preaching through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) as a church right now, and one of the things that Jesus does for me as I read it and think about it and pray through it is to reveal to me how many wicked things there are inside of my heart.  In the corners, under the floorboards, stuck up in the attic, in all sorts of hidden spaces within my heart are some disgusting things.  And He knows about them. 

And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 

Matthew 6:16-18

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 

Matthew 7:3

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 

Matthew 5:22

Jesus knows how wicked I can be.  He knows.  My greedy motives and petty, little grudges and pretentious, false religiosity are all before Him.  

The wickedness in my flesh and soul do not surprise or perplex Jesus.  

And He says that as I am conformed more and more to Him, as I’m made more and more teleos (Matthew 5:48; “perfect” or “complete” or “mature,” e.g., Hebrews 5:14) as I am grown as a Christian by grace through faith, those sick and awful pieces of myself are getting laid low.  

There is hope for the Christian.  There is hope for me.  I am a territory being conquered by a good King.  My heart is a battlefield, and I myself am a soldier on the right side.  

This war will end someday, and all the veterans like me will stand in the light of our Sovereign, with bodies and souls that will be big enough and clean enough to enjoy Him to the fullest.  

A Truer Story

  
Kudos to Julie Roys of Moody Radio for saying something very true very succinctly on a recent Christianity Today podcast.

Mrs. Roys pointed out that there’s a worldview difference between the mindset of the big-government political left and the mindset of the Bible-believing Christian.  

The left maintains that the cause of suffering we see around us is an unequal distribution of goods and services.  The Bible teaches that the cause of suffering is sin.  And so the left, or present-day political liberalism, and the Bible are telling two different stories about how we got here and what can best fix us.

Where the current mainstream culture and climate would say that our biggest problem is one of opportunity, or that our biggest problem is economic or educational in nature, God says that our biggest problem is that all who aren’t in Christ are dead sinners, evil doers who are hurting each other and deserving of His wrath.  God says that our biggest problem is spiritual.  Where your average school textbook contributor or public school administrator or newscaster would probably say that this or that policy, party, or person is the fix for what’s most fundamentally wrong in our society, God says that only His Son and His Spirit can resolve what’s most tilted in our world.  

This is no small difference we’re talking about, here.  We are seeing humanity and creation cast in two very different lights in these narratives.  

Guys, we can only ultimately bend our knees to one savior.  And make no mistake, we are all bowing to one.  I was talking with a Christian from another country a few weeks ago who commented that in Cuba all education of any kind was free.  Leaving aside the question of accuracy for a second (nothing is free, folks), what I found so treacherous and possibly deadly in the glee that someone might have at that prospect (“Let’s all move there!”) is this:  

The desire for Daddy Government to come and provide for us all.  

Hey, what we need most, after all, is education, right?  I mean, not education so that we can appreciate the God-made world, but so that we can get a job and then make money so that we can buy stuff, right?  That’s what we learned in school, anyway.  “Good” education leads to “good” job leads to “good” life.  I mean, sure they also told us we were all just atoms that happen to have started breathing (thanks, natural selection!), and so I guess I’m not totally sure how collections of atoms that happen to be breathing buying collections of atoms that don’t happen to be breathing is really “good,” but, well, I won’t think that far ahead.  

And the President/Governor/Prime Minister/King is telling us he can provide all that schooling and those jobs and that money.  He can give us what we most need.  He can fix what’s most wrong.  

Hallelujah!

But no government can be a savior.  Samuel gave some pretty prophetic words to the Israelites once:

So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him.  He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you:  he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.  And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.  He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.  He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants.  He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.  He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work.  He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.  And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’  But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel.  And they said, ‘No!  But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.’  And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord.  And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey their voice and make them a king.’  Samuel then said to the men of Israel, ‘Go every man to his city.’

1 Samuel 8:10-22

God’s Old Testament people wanted their king.  They were just certain that would be the ticket.  They were sure that would be their solution.  The right cause, the right government, the right earthly hands pulling the right earthly lever, would heal the land and mend the people.  They knew it.  They were dead set on it.  

And then right there with Samuel you can see that it always takes the word of God to remind people how the world really works and who we really are as human beings.  

Even when they won’t receive it, only the Word can tell people the God-honest truth about creation, sin, pain, and redemption.  There is only one Savior who can rescue us from sin.  And sin is what we most need rescuing from.

Samuel had a better story to tell his neighbors, because he had a truer one.  

And so do we. 

Please Justify Me

 

I’m smart.  I know the right words to say and the right way to say them.  You’ll have to listen to me.  And you’ll have to be amazed by me.  

I’m attractive.  You want to look at me.  You want to look like me.  

I’m likeable.  I’m interesting.  I’m funny. You’d want to invite me to your party.  

I’m powerful.  I’m strong.  I can get you to do what I want.  And my ability to bend situations and people to my liking will astound you.

I’m capable.  I do my job better than the other people do theirs.  I never run away when it gets tough.  I’m never lazy.  

I’m talented.  This skill I have will make your jaw drop.  

I’m good.  I don’t lie.  Or steal.  Or murder.  I pay my taxes.  I’m better than my neighbor.  And I’m not nearly as bad as that co-worker.  Not nearly.   

Please justify me, world.  Please.  I’m smart.  I’m funny.  I’m attractive.  You have to justify me.  You have to, right?  I must count.  Look at me.  At what I do.  At what I’ve done.  Look at it.

This must cover up my nakedness.   

Oh, God.  God.  Please justify me.  Don’t you see?  I know I’ve sinned, even though I pretend I haven’t (or that you don’t exist).  But I’m standing out from the crowd, God.  Right?  So please take this as my offering.  My intelligence and beauty and achievements.  Take them for my guilt.  They must cover it.  They must.  

I don’t have anything else.  

Please count me worthy.  I measure up better than the others.  I have to.  

I have to.  

Oh, Heaven help me, I have to.   And that’s why I’m so tired.  

I can’t do this myself.  

But I’ll die trying.
(In)sincerely,

Every Restless Heart

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.  And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths…  But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’  And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.’   He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked?  Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat…  And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them

Genesis 3:6-7, 9-11, 21

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne

Revelation 3:18-21

At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  

Matthew 11:25-28