The world and the church have changed so much since Jesus walked the streets of Nazareth. Sometimes the telling of the gospel and even the OT can become so story-esque that I think modern Americans can really have a hard time transcending an idea that Jesus literally rode a donkey. Most Americans haven’t done more than have a guided pony ride in their lives.
The amount of territory Jesus walked in a day or a month, would seem so small to someone driving miles a day. Not one disciple would have ever known about a modern-day “quiet time” or just “diving into the word.”
Our cultural thoughts about women, slaves, children, church, religion, and prejudices are so different from Bible times and yet so the same.
Jesus was totally radical, but he was quiet on a lot of fronts too. There’s a lot of questions that believers and ministry leaders have for him, that feel unanswered, and yet his two greatest commandments remain.
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
So, when culture changes, when laws on slavery and women change. When the largest influences of the church or its denominations continue to change, what remains?
Loving God and loving people.
This isn’t new.
It’s not complicated.
It’s the mission statement of tons of churches.
And yet we’re constantly tempted to say “what kind of people” are we supposed to love. If you find yourself being tempted to plot out “a certain kind of people” you are supposed to love then you need to revisit the gospels, because not only does Jesus plain as day say your neighbor is your enemy (Samaritans), but Paul also says,
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
And yet your church might be filled with Alt-Right sympathizers or maybe you have a predominantly ethnic congregation and the Black Lives Matter movement has become a huge identity for your church, or maybe you just have republicans and democrats, what do you do?
how do you honor the scriptures mentioned above?
one: focus on what unifies not what divides:
There will always be something that divides.
Try to keep the unity of your brothers and sisters in Christ as the focus. If people in your church want to stand behind a movement, you remind them that standing with people in hard times is important, no one knows that better than the Children of Israel, the underdogs, but you also have to come back to a place that’s not a subgroup, because while Black Lives Matter to God, more than even that, people matter to God.
If people want to rally and organize that’s fine, but don’t mix that up with a gospel that is for everyone.
two: focus on reconciliation and healing
Hurt people, hurt people. Churches already are havens for hurting people, but they should be good havens. There should be the same love and acceptance that Jesus gave to Zaccheus to every person that walks through your doors, but you’ll need more than just that. You’ll also need actual classes to help people heal. Feelings, past pains, and struggles will bury people alive, and they will have no idea how to sort through that. Let your church be an expert on the help that people need.
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three: offer prayer and counseling
Racism sucks. I said it. So do all the other “isms” too. In times of conflict, just be available. People need a place to cry and grieve and mourn and ask God why. A passionate prayer can reinvigorate the life of someone in a struggle. Wise, sound, godly, logical advice can help people get back on their feet.
Watching videos and reading articles of the past week’s events show people full of hatred, full of fear, full of sadness. They need a loving God to hold them. The church are those arms, so offer hugs!