Compassionate - Fort Worth

During the season of Advent, we as a church focus on Jesus' first coming and second coming. This year, we looked specifically at the attributes of God on display in the Christmas narrative.

Topics: The Birth of Christ | The Character of God Scripture: Ephesians 2:11-18

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Transcript

Good morning to you all. Turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians, chapter 2. I know you just sat down, but I would invite you to stand back up with me in honor of reading from God’s Word. We’ll be reading Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 11 through 18:

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ’the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” As you are being seated, let’s go to the Lord in prayer.

Father, we gather here. In some sense, Lord, with you shaking your head, we gather to talk about issues you have put to rest at the manger, at the cross, Lord. We’ve come to talk about the tension and the racial divide, ethnic divide, that is among us. Lord, the press for us from you from your Word would be that we would gather around your manger, around the cross, and find answers.

We mean to do that this morning, Lord, to look to your Word, to look what you have accomplished and have revealed to us to find meaning and life. It’s in your Son’s name, it’s in your name, Jesus, we pray, amen.

As a young rookie minister, I figured, “I’ll never know how to preach. I’ll never be eloquent, so I’ll just do what I know. I’m a dumb jock, so I’ll get a position at a church as a rec minister.” I hired on at a church. This particular church was declining. It was dying. The area around it had become primarily black and Hispanic. The church itself was struggling as to what to do. I hired on staff, and within a few weeks of being hired on staff, the head pastor (the lead pastor) called an emergency meeting whereby he gathered all of the staff together.

He brought them together and sat them down. I expected to be wowed with theology and philosophy. He brought everyone into a room, and he said, “I just want to get the people to see (he was talking about the congregation) that if they only want white people, there are enough white people in this area to fill the pews.” You can imagine at that moment my heart just sinking, thinking, “What?”

I want to talk about it. I didn’t have the answers of theology or philosophy to deal with it then, but I want to talk about it now. What’s on everybody’s mind right now? Ferguson. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. The fact that I am black and most of you are white. Really what these issues, these different situations, have done is they have revealed the culture is still trying to answer questions that were brought up 50 years ago. There are still wounds festering and bleeding out, if you will.

I’ll submit to you, the reason why they can’t answer the question is they’re trying to answer it all wrongly. Here’s the most radical thing I want to say today. While these issues are alive and well in culture, these issues are dead as it pertains to the church. I know what you’re thinking. “Come on, Anthony.” Not everybody in here is saying amen.

Most of you are thinking, “Come on. Let’s be honest. There are racist people sitting right here right now. There are people in this congregation right now in attendance who won’t stop at any gas station or any food restaurant in this area. Come on, Anthony. Really? These issues are dead? We have people right now sitting next to me who would say, ’I’m all right with different ethnicities so long as baby boy or baby girl doesn’t bring one home as a boyfriend or girlfriend.’”

Right now there are people in here who make statements like and actually think like, “She is attractive…for a black woman. Let’s be honest. Little black church over there. Little white church over there. Come on, Anthony. These issues are far from being dead. Some of these people in here will never have anyone who is a close friend from a different ethnicity. Come on. These issues are far from being dead. How could you make such a statement?” I make such a statement, and I stand on it. The grounds I stand on are the supremacy of Christ and the sufficiency of his finished work. In what way? Well, verse 14.

“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two…and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens…members of the household of God…”

This is where Paul is going in his argument: one family. Not multiple races. One race or two, and having everything to do with whether or not you’re in Adam or in Christ. This is where Paul is going. Racial reconciliation. If you think about it, what he is saying here is more radical, more profound than anything I could say about the unrest and the strife between blacks and whites now. For a Jewish person to stop and to help a pregnant Gentile woman on the side of the street wasn’t just a matter of racism. They would literally consider themselves unclean to help.

The strife and the enmity there is real, and Paul says one new man, one race in Christ. One family. That’s where he is going. Then he is going to point out… It’s as if he is going to say, “This issue is a nonstarter.” It’s a nonstarter because if we were to jump back to verse 11, which then says… “Therefore…” points us back to chapter 2, verse 1. “And you were dead…” It’s as if Paul is going to start out a sermon about racial reconciliation, if you will, by saying, “There is no such thing.”

There’s no sense of racial reconciliation. Why? Why? Because you were all dead. Death is the only one that’s truly colorblind. It comes for us all. Not only that, but you are all by nature children of wrath. Verse 3: “…among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

You were dead in your trespasses and sins. If you’re an unbeliever in here this morning, we consider this kindness to say to you, “You’re dead.” This is what Paul is saying. Though you have blood flowing through your veins, though you have an idea of what you’re going to eat for lunch and you have thought about what you’ve been doing in the past, right now apart from Christ you’re dead.

This is all of us. This is what we used to be in, Christian believer. We were all dead, by nature children of wrath. This is why it’s important for pastors to preach a text, because I would never want to say anything like this just on my own. By nature children of wrath? What in the world does that mean? It means there’s an expectation of judgment to come. Children of wrath.

If I were to say that all of us were young and in high school (some of you are), and we all lost our minds for a second and snuck out of the house… We would leave right around 1:30 or 2:00. Make sure parents are nice and asleep. We’d go out, have a good time, and try to come back right at 6:00. Let’s say when we get back at 6:00, we walk up to the house, and we see all the lights on. We’re looking in through the window, peering in going, “Oh no. Mom and Dad are up.”

We stand there for a moment trying to figure out what we’re going to do. “What am I going to do? How am I going to get inside?” We decide to go with crazy. We walk in the house. “I’ve lost my mind. I can’t believe I would act like that. Ground me forever! Take away my food, everything.” Mom looks at you and says, “It’s good to see you, baby. Sit down and have something to eat.” You sit down. Dad has his paper up. (This is like the perfect family, right?) He looks down and says, “How are you doing, Son?” He puts it back up. 

You’re thinking, “Am I in twilight world? I just snuck out all night.” Mom comes over, puts food down in front of you. You get ready to take your fork and eat it when all of a sudden you realize, “Oh wait. Oh, I see what’s happening here. You poisoned the food. You finally lost it. You poisoned the food. I see this!” Why is it so funny? Well, there’s an expectation of judgment if we transgress our parents, if we sin against their rules, their laws for how we should live.

If that is the case for sinful, imperfect human beings, how much so when it is the perfection of a holy God? His wrath would pour out on us. What Paul is saying is this is all of us. We all stand underneath the wrath of God. But I want to continue to point you toward racial reconciliation. That’s where he is going. How does it connect then? Well, the point here then is that we don’t treasure Jesus rightly because we don’t think about God’s wrath.

Because we don’t think about God’s wrath and we don’t treasure Jesus rightly, we won’t treasure those whom he has purchased. God is not a divine teddy bear. There really are consequences for sinning against him. That divine wrath is not hypothetical; it’s real! Let me give you four things to consider. Look with me at Isaiah 66:15 through 16. Watch it on the screen or listen intently.

“See, the Lord is coming with fire, and his chariots are like a whirlwind; he will bring down his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For with fire and with his sword the Lord will execute judgment on all people, and many will be those slain by the Lord.”

My next point goes right in tandem with that Scripture. God is not trying to hide the concept of his wrath. God’s wrath is real. Not only that, but hell is not a place where God doesn’t rule and reign. Hell is a place where God’s justice… His wrath is being poured out unmediated by his Son. Finally, God’s wrath breaks the back and kills his Son, and we play games with it!

This is why Jesus is so priceless to us. He shields us from that wrath. We believe that wrath is real, so we’re headed toward racial reconciliation. How does that then fit in? Paul would make us consider the eternal destiny of a man or a woman over their ethnicity.

If I look at all the conversations that are going on that Christians are entering into with regard to all these situations, I’m trying to figure out how it is the case that you can be Christian and believe in the concept of divine wrath and be first and foremost concerned about, “Was it black on black, black on blue, or black on white?” Our first concern is an eternal one. What’s the state of that person?

If you look with indifference on that, help you! Think about what we believe here. When these men passed away, what we believe is that these men just slipped into their eternal resting place forever. Forever! There’s no redo. If you’re here and you’re wanting to hear me first make a pronouncement on whether or not the police officers are innocent or guilty over us coming together and pleading with the Lord about, “Man, Lord, I pray they were trusting and hoping in Christ,” help you!

You’re an emotional annihilationist. Functionally you’re an annihilationist, the unbiblical position that people just disappear after death. What the biblical position is is we live for eternity either apart from God, underneath his just and right condemnation, underneath his wrath, or next to him in his presence because of his Son. For eternity these men have died.

What are you thinking about when you flip through the channels? Are you thinking about that eternal state? Are you thinking about getting the gospel out? Is that your cry? As we think about these situations, one practical way I want to give you when you hear about these situations on TV, you see them on Twitter or Facebook, you hear people talking about it, is take a moment, and think about the wrath of God. It’s going to engender in you humility. It’s going to engender in you a mindset that is thinking about the right things, eternity.

What it’s going to do then is it’s going to cause verse 4 to come in so sweetly. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us…” This is our gospel, a “but God” gospel. We were all deserving of divine wrath, but God has been kind to us, merciful to us in giving us his grace. How did it happen? How did we get from underneath God’s wrath to being agents underneath his mercy? How does it happen?

Well, it happens by our connection to Christ. Look with me on all the times, the connections to Christ in verses 4 through 10. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive…” How? “…together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up…” Where? “…with him and seated us…” Where?

“…with him in the heavenly places…” Where? “…in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us…” Where? “…in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created…” Where? “…in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

The way we get from under his wrath into his mercy and his grace is by Christ. This statement will never get old for me. There is more grace to be found in Christ Jesus than sin in you. For all of those who are resting in Christ, we may say it like this: we can sue God for his grace. I know that hits you hard. Before you send emails to me and before you start to get upset, what I’m attempting to help you understand is the boldness, a Hebrews way of being able to go before the Lord and be bold about declaring his grace, his promises to us for those of us who are in Christ.

The Father and Son have entered into a contractual relationship whereby all those whom the Son has purchased and redeemed, the Father has agreed he will glorify. We may walk boldly before his throne of grace, even in light of his wrath because of the death, burial, and resurrection of his Son Jesus. That’s pointing to somewhere, though. Why is that important for racial reconciliation? Well, it’s important because what it means is all of God’s family is made up of great sinners who are in need of his mercy, his grace, and his forgiveness.

There are no victims. There are no victims in God’s family! I want to say this carefully to my black brothers and sisters in here. Let no one…no one…turn you into a victim. There is only one Victim who has ever walked the earth, and his name is Jesus Christ. To the rest of us, we are sinners who have sinned against God and are in need of his forgiveness. What treason, what atrocities, could they possibly do to us that’s worse than what I have done to my heavenly Father or to Christ? Yet God has forgiven me.

What it says to us is then that “…to whom much was given, of him much will be required…” God gives what he demands, and he demands what he gives. He has granted forgiveness to us. Forgiveness in; forgiveness out. We walk into these situations armed with forgiveness. “I know you just called me that name, and I know you’re racist. I know you don’t like me, but I’m armed with the fact that I have been forgiven mightily by my Savior.”

We forgive not because you’ve heard it said, “We want to make sure that person doesn’t have a hold on you.” No, no, no. We forgive because we’ve been greatly forgiven. We come in looking at every situation ready to grant forgiveness, ready, armed with forgiveness, feeling the weight of what Christ has done for us.

Lest you’re sitting here going, “Amen! Amen! That’s right! That’s right! They need to forgive,” you realize this is the call for every Christian that we would learn to hide people’s sin against us behind God’s grace. We would be good at hiding and not seeking. Is that not what Christ does when he says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”? It’s not a liberal take.

He is not saying you’re really morally innocent. In the best way possible, he is reshaping, reframing, the conversation. “Father, they don’t even completely know. Forgive them for they know not what they do.” That’s what we do. We hide people’s sin against us behind God’s grace, and we become skilled at hiding and not seeking.

Really the parable of the unforgiven servant for us all applies here. Here it is. If we were to go and read the text, a man owes something to the equivalent of $300 billion. The amount of money is a sign of the debt we owe God, and yet the ruler forgives him. He goes away, and he finds someone who owes him like $1,000 and begins to choke him out and say, “Give me my money.”

The point is he doesn’t realize how great he has been forgiven if he is not going to grant forgiveness over here. This is for us all. We have been forgiven much. Because of that, grace in, forgiveness in, forgiveness out, grace out. That’s what we arm ourselves with in these conversations.

Then he is going to say (we finally get down to our text), “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ’the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands…” First he says, “Therefore remember…” Think about this. Everything we’ve just finished doing, he has just finished reminding us. All of it was in the past tense. Then he is going to say, “Therefore remember…”

He knows this remembering is so important. It’s going to affect the way they walk if they forget. We could see this maybe easier if we were in the original languages, but verse 10. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Therefore remember…”

He is connecting two concepts: the walking and the remembering. To not remember will affect the walk. To remember, it’s going to do something to the walk, the way we live our lives. This isn’t a casual flipping through of a yearbook then. We’re talking about treasuring up in our souls, thinking on something, and letting that fuel us toward action.

I used to work at Southwestern Theological Seminary. Really I felt like I was a kid in a big role. I was director of student life, and I used to always play pranks on people. I mean, there was a lifeguard who worked for me. We were talking trash back and forth. He was sitting on the stand, so I pushed the stand and him and his cell phone into the water. Three hundred dollars later, I was paying for his cell phone and confessing to my wife and all of those things.

I’m back. I’m playing more games. I fake fired someone one time and recorded it. I don’t know if I can still get in trouble for that. I mean, I was a big kid. I loved to play games. I had one of the employees there. She felt like it was her responsibility to help keep me in line. Her name was Miss Tonya.

What she did was she got the number of my mother. She got the cell phone number. Every time I would start to get out of line, she would call my mama. She would wait until there was a big group around, and then she would get my mom on the phone and go, “Your mom wants to talk to you.” Every time, I’m like, “I ain’t getting on the phone.” I could hear my mother yelling, “Boy, you’d better get on this phone!”

You know, when people are around, you want to act tough. “I ain’t getting on the phone.” “Boy, you’d better get on this phone! Get on the phone.” My mama would always say things like, “Boy, you’d better not forget where you come from.” What does she mean? Well, she is pointing me back to the fact that my family and I grew up in some humbling circumstances, actually not too far from Ferguson, in a drug-infested, gang-infested environment.

My father, wanting better for us, moved away from us for several months, worked several jobs just to get up enough money to move the family to live with him there. Then my mother and all of us once we moved there, she worked during the day, put herself through school at night, just to help provide for the family, give us better opportunities of education.

Out of my entire father’s side and mother’s side of the family, there are only four of us to receive a master’s degree. Two of them are from my family. If you talk to my sister and me about, “What was the reason that compelled you? What motivated you as you were doing your education?” we will point back to those sacrifices and remembering all of those hard times and say, “That fueled us. Remembering that fueled us to move forward.”

Of my entire family on my father’s side and my mother’s side, there is only one person to ever receive a PhD, and it is I. Throughout it all, I felt the weight and the press of everyone who had sacrificed, who had come before me to give me an opportunity to study, and I fought for that. Remembering that fueled me.

Even better than that, if you bring my wife’s family into this and you look at her father’s side, her mother’s side, or if you look at my family on my father’s side, my mother’s side, there’s not one set of godly father, godly son combinations. You can find godly fathers but not godly sons or godly sons but not godly fathers, but you don’t see a combination of godly father, godly son. Do you think when I think on that and I remember that it doesn’t call me to diligence as a father of three boys?

It presses me to right action of life. This is the type of remembering Paul is talking about here. Think on the wrath of God. Consider it. Think on the goodness of God and his grace in giving us Christ Jesus to die for us. Let that motivate us toward action. Never forget. Remember. Remember…what? “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ’the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands…”

He is pointing out to them, “Remember you used to be outsiders.” That is, circumcision is a sign of God’s people, God’s covenant, in the Old Testament. What he is saying is there was a time when you were outside of the kingdom. You were outside of his promises. You weren’t invited to the party. You were an outsider looking in. Everybody remembers what it was like to desire to go to a party, to want to go and have nobody invite you, nobody to want you to be there.

Then all of a sudden a friend comes along and says, “Yeah, why don’t you come with me?” What do you do when you get to the party? You cling closely to the person who has brought you. Why? Because you realize, “The only reason why I’m here is this person.” That’s what Paul is saying. The only reason why you are here is Christ has brought you in. You should cling close to him. Do you know what else it’s saying? While you’re there, you should have a posture of humility. You realize, “I’m just thankful I got to be a part of the party.”

I realize not all but one major issue I see with white Christianity is you think you’ve always been invited to the party. You don’t even realize that at one point in time, the gospel had to come over continents, had to come over oceans. People had to die, make sacrifices, just to get the gospel to you. What that should do to you is it should create a posture of humility for us all, a sense in which I am thankful to be here.

It causes us to put away pride and to put on humility. A posture of humility as opposed to white privilege is how I want to have the conversation. I don’t want to allow the culture to continue to give us the questions and the terminology. Christians never win in worldview conversations when we allow them to always set the methodology or the questions and to give us the terminology.

For example, with abortion. If someone were to come up to you and say, “When is it appropriate to abort the fetus?” you would say, “Well, you’re begging a question I don’t want to have to answer.” Never. That’s a life. I don’t want to talk about it in terms that are good for the world or questions that are good for the world. I want to talk about it in terms of a posture of humility.

The way you dance at this party should be one of just gratitude for being here, that God has brought you into the fold. When strangers or people of different ethnicities come in, you should be thankful! “Hey, man. They didn’t want you in. They don’t want me either. I’m glad to be here. Praise God.”

If you think about it, how that party is being formed, the fact that God is bringing all different types of people to the party really testifies to how good the party is. When a party is good, it will bring all sorts of people to it. Really when the party is good, it testifies to the one who is throwing the party. When that person (we all think this way) throws a party, everybody is going to want to be there. This is God drawing all people unto himself.

If you were to hear the NBA commissioner when he talks about the goodness of NBA basketball, he will brag and say, “NBA basketball is so good, it reaches people from all different countries of all different walks of life of all different languages. Why? Because NBA basketball is that good. We have a good product.”

God is that good that he is drawing all men unto himself of every ethnicity in to this party. Really then what racism is is not first and foremost an assault against black Christians. Racism is first and foremost an assault against the glory and goodness of God. He will draw all men unto himself when he is lifted up. We have a posture of humility. Why?

Because we were “…separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Verse 13: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” You see the equation yet again. Bad news before the good news. One of separation, loss, destitute, and now brought near by the blood of Christ. This is the gospel we preach, a “but God” gospel.

I’ve heard it said that all the verses that come before are like wood we put into a woodstove that we then light that burns brightly into the future once we get to verse 13. We think on all of the negative, and then it fuels us to live rightly. What I really want to press you on is what issue did you come in here with today? Whether it be about racism on your heart or anxiety or worry, whatever it is, what issue is bigger than, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood…”? What issue trumps that?

There is nothing that trumps the goodness of God in this. A “but God” gospel… How does that help us? How does it help us with racial reconciliation? Well, it points to the fact that Christ has created now a family for himself. We’ve read it already, but look again. He “…has made us both one and has broken down…the dividing wall of hostility…one new man in place of the two…”

He has reconciled “…us both to God in one body through the cross… And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…”

One family now. One race or two. Either in Adam and perishing or in Christ, eternal life. One family of God. It’s going to cost us something to listen as family. It’s going to cost us something to think as family. It’s going to cost us something to live as family.

First, to listen as family. You know, it’s interesting. Whenever I used to watch commercials about drug addicts or people who were addicted to drugs, I used to just kind of flip through. I would get sad in my heart, but it never really affected me deeply. I would just kind of keep flipping through, or I would sit there and go, “Man, that’s horrible.”

It wasn’t until I had a close family member begin to struggle with meth addiction that every time I saw a commercial about drug addiction of any kind, you will lose me for 10 or 15 minutes as I just run deep thinking about this person and whether or not they’re doing drugs or putting themselves in harm’s way. I’m listening as a family member.

I was riding in a truck with some guys about to go hunting, and all of them started to share stories of different people they know who are now hooked on drugs. What they didn’t know was that for about 10 or 15 minutes as I sat there, my heart was just weeping. Why? I was thinking of family. It’s crazy.

One of the worst interviews or statements about it I had heard was Eric Garner’s daughter. One of the things she said that just impacted me so much was, “I have to see my father being killed a thousand times a day now because people keep playing it on YouTube. They keep putting it all over the media. They keep talking about it over and over again.” Every time she sees it, it impacts her. Why? Because she is thinking about it as family.

This is what the call is for us. Do you believe this or not? If we don’t believe God, Christ, has in effect created one new family for himself for all of those who have been redeemed by his blood, if you don’t believe that, there are no grounds for you to believe anything else he has said. The harder reconciliation was between God and sinner. The easy reconciliation is what he has done now to unite our hearts, one Spirit, one Father, one blood, one cross that now binds us together.

We have to listen to one another as family, not indifferent but looking to hear and to understand. Not only that, it’s going to cost us something to think as family. It’s interesting. Just this week we had a card that got sent to me. It was about a brother’s situation. I picked up the phone, and I called him. He said, “Listen. I’m about to adopt children of a different ethnicity. When I told my family this was about to happen, all of them said, ’Don’t bring those children around mine.’”

It’s going to cost us something to believe this or not. What we want to say back is, “That child is a creation of God! Therefore, they are the crown and glory of God’s creation.” They have an opportunity to faith on Christ. Because of that, they have value and worth and dignity. That’s what I believe. It’s going to cost you something.

I’ve just heard of stories (and I’ve heard of two or three of them) at the seminary (a place of theological education) whereby two people of different ethnicities attempting to get together and date when the guy calls home and tells his mom, “Hey, listen. I’m excited about this girl. She is godly. She is all of these things.” Mom is excited until she finds out she is a different ethnicity.

It’s going to cost us to believe this, that Christ really has brought about one family. Then it’s going to cost us to live this way. You think about Jesus’ high priestly prayer in the gospel of John. What is his prayer for us? “Father, I pray they would be one.” How? “As we are one.” In the strange reality that is the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit), in every way they are united and one, he is saying, “Father, I pray they would be united in that fashion.”

Then what’s next is even more profound. “That the world may know I have sent them,” meaning when the world looks and sees our unity, sees us living as a family, there’s a sense in which we give validity to the fact that Jesus really has died. He really has been buried, and he really was resurrected.

When we don’t live in unity, what we are saying is there’s a chance this reality never really was brought about. There’s a real importance for us to now gather together as a family, to talk about the issues in a right way, armed with forgiveness, humility, being humbled because of the wrath of God, grace infused in us. New conversation. New terminology. New questions.

United together as one family to have the conversations so that when the world sees us having those conversations, they look, and there’s a sense in which they are wondering, “How in the world can they have the answers to those questions that we don’t?” Then we say to them, “It is by the supremacy of Christ and his sufficient and finished work on the cross.”

All of this may seem unrelated to what we’re celebrating today (the advent), but if you think about it, it’s not as if there wasn’t racial tension or issues that were going on or calamity or war. Herod is killing babies when God gives his Son, meaning God’s reply to all of the different situations you could think of right now is to give a baby. If you did the advent, if you’re flipping through it and you did that with your family, you know the first one is on rescue. This is how God rescues a baby.

I sat with my sons around the table, and I said, “How does God rescue? Does he rescue as Iron Man?” They were like, “No!” I’m like, “How does Iron Man rescue?”

“Like this!”

“How does Spiderman rescue?”

“He rescues like this!”

“How does Superman rescue?”

“He rescues like this!”

“How does God rescue? He gives a babe.” They’re like, “Yeah, whatever.”

The same questions that are on their hearts are the same questions we now must put to rest. God has answered these issues by giving his Son in the form of a babe. At his manger and around his cross is room for us to gather as the family of God and to have these conversations in a way that demonstrates the supremacy of Christ and the sufficiency of his work.

Christ looks, and he sees his bride in distress. What he doesn’t do is he doesn’t just stay indifferent and stay back. What he does is he enters in armed with forgiveness. He enters in armed with humility, armed with the gospel that we might be united. That same spirit is in us. That’s the same call for us, that we would enter in armed with the gospel, forgiveness, and humility. I’ll leave you with this. I’ll leave you with the exact same words my mother would always say to me. “You’d better remember where you come from.” Let’s pray to the Father.

Lord, we thank you for your kindness to us. Lord, all of life and everything is defined by, is reflected by, the reality of what you have done for us in giving us your Son on the cross. Lord, we pray we would live in the simplicity and the sufficiency and the supremacy of that death, burial, and resurrection. Lord, we pray to this end. Lord, we live to that end. It’s in Jesus’ name we pray, amen.