Good afternoon. If you have your Bibles, go ahead and grab those. We’re going to be in Ephesians, chapter 2, today. Before we get into today’s message, I want to give you an update on the… It’s a bit of a heavy update on the 2012 Kids Camp incident we made you aware of back in September. I know many of you today might not have any idea of what I’m talking about when I lay this before you. If you are a member of our church, you should have received an email from us already. This statement is live on our website even now.
There have been some developments. We told you back in September that we weren’t in control of this process and were going to have to trust the detectives involved and that our plan was to love and walk with the family. There are some updates. I think those updates are significant and important and want to encourage you, if you have not read the email we sent out, to head to our website, and on our website you’ll see “2012 Kids Camp Update.” It’ll be the first thing you’ll see. Click on that, and all of the details we know about are on that. They have already been emailed out to you.
Our commitment as The Village Church, as an organization, is threefold. We want truth. We want light in darkness. We want justice. God is a God of justice. God is not just some Tinker Bell floating around sprinkling dust. He’s a God of justice, and we want justice, and then we want healing. We want there to be healing. This whole thing is a mess. I have personally felt thin and exhausted and worn out and heartbroken. I come from some of this stuff and have seen the effects of some of this stuff, so I’ve needed personally (and maybe this will encourage you) to steep a bit in Revelation 7 this week. Here’s what Revelation 7:9-12 says:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ’Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’
And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ’Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.’”
Now let me tell you why I need to steep in that. In the dark moments of the soul, when you get a front-row seat to the depravity of humankind, it can be disorienting. It can be discombobulating. It can make you lose heart. What I’ve learned to do over the years… In my own shortcomings and failures, in my own dark nights of the soul, I just want to steep in this text, because this text is how it ends.
No matter how dark this moment is that I’m in, regardless of what it is…an incident like this, maybe cancer, maybe a loss of a loved one…we steep in this moment, but this is just a moment in our lives, and this is how, ultimately, all of us who are in Christ end. We’re around the throne. Redemption has occurred. In fact, Revelation would say of the former things there’s no remembrance.
So if you have this thing in your life and you’re like, “Oh, I just wish that would have never happened,” well, it ends in a way that it’s like it never did. There are times I just need to get into this and remember in the narrative arc of my life, in the narrative arc of your life, there are these dark moments, and if you can’t get up to the horizon, if you can’t get up there where you can see, “Oh my gosh, this is a moment…” There are going to be a lot of moments in my life, and in the end this is how it ends. Hope will prevail.
I think it’s important that you read the statement, and I think it’s important that we steep in our future hope. I want to pray for us. I want to pray for our church. I want to pray for truth. I want to pray for justice. I want to pray for healing and just create some silence. God works in lament and he works in these spaces. I want to create space for that. Then we’re going to dive into our text today. The reason I’m not getting into all of the details is because it’s live, and I just feel like the Lord wants us in this Ephesians 2 passage today, so we’re going to just dive into that. Let me pray for us as a community of faith.
Father, we praise you that even the darkness is light to you. That’s what you say in your Word. There’s no place to hide from your truth and justice and healing power. I just ask in this really heartbreaking situation that your Spirit would be working. I thank you already for the testimony of this family, your power to heal, your power to work, your power to move, your power to rescue, your power to work. We just praise you for that. We praise you that you don’t abandon us to hurt.
I want to pray for justice. I thank you that, according to Romans 13, you have established human institutions by which you will judge rightly among the peoples of the earth. We ask that that truth and justice be made visible in this process. Then we pray for healing. Just in my own family I have some of this and know the damage and the heartbreak, so I just pray for this family. I thank you for your evidence of grace already in this family.
They’re still here. We’re still walking with them. You’re moving in them, so I thank you and praise you for even that. God, I pray now for my brothers and sisters in this room. Some of this is really… They have experience. They have hurts from their own childhood. I just pray healing power for them, that you would, in your great mercy, minister to us as only you can. We lift your name high, Jesus. Our hope is in you and not in man. It’s for your beautiful name I pray, amen.
We are in a series that we call Epiphany. We do it every January. Historically, the church calendar has an Epiphany Sunday. Epiphany Sunday is about the manifestation of Jesus Christ. What that means is the church rallies around and celebrates the fact that Jesus is not just some moral philosopher. He is not just some teacher. He is not just some kind of guide who shows us the way of life. He is God in the flesh, second person of the Trinity. He has made himself known and visible. He has condescended and lived among us. We celebrate that all month.
The first week of Epiphany we talked about faith and works, that works don’t save you, but if the Spirit of God lives inside of you, as you become a Christian and are indwelt with the Spirit, the long path of sanctification begins. Do you know what I mean by the “long path of sanctification”? And all God’s people said, “Amen.” Yeah, it’s long and slow. Basically, we become Christians and there’s this little beachhead that’s formed in our lives.
We have no idea what all that surrender meant, but what’s going to happen is over the period of our lives, the expansion of our understanding of who God is and what God desires for us is going to grow, and our desire to submit to it is going to grow. As that happens, we begin to see the world as God sees it, our hearts are broken for the things God’s heart is broken for, and we begin to move toward brokenness, not away from it.
The history of the Christian church has been one where the people of God have not just hunkered down and studied their Bibles and hoped for the best, but compelled by the Holy Spirit, being transformed by the indwelling Spirit, they engage darkness, push back darkness, and establish beacons of light. I said in the first week that since day one Christians have been opening hospitals. They’ve been opening orphanages.
It was Christians who set up the first institutions of higher learning in the US. You know all of those Ivy League schools? They were started by pastors. They wanted higher education. The public school system has its root in the church, saying, “Education matters. The life of the mind matters.” It’s only in a highly politicized, highly polarized 2018 that Christians who push back darkness might be labeled as “social justice warriors.” That’s propaganda and nonsense, incompatible with the Word of God and the history of the church.
We step into spaces to push back what’s dark, to bring about light, to set up order by the grace of God. It’s God’s call on our lives. Now that might not happen right at the moment of salvation, but there are all sorts of things that aren’t present at the moment of salvation. My guess is that very few of you came to know Christ and surrendered your life to Christ as you dug into the triune nature of the Godhead.
My guess is the Holy Spirit, through a pretty simple message of forgiveness and grace, opened up your heart, and you knew nothing of the triune nature of the Godhead. That was the beachhead that was established, and now you’re growing. Some of you are like, “I still don’t know what you’re talking about, and I’ve been a Christian for 20 years.” Okay, great. We have this thing called the Training Program. You should hop in, because God is infinitely more marvelous than you currently know.
Then the second week… I thought last week Jamin did an incredible job. Do you see what I mean by how gifted that kid is? (Yes, Jamin. I just called you a kid. You’re a kid, bro.) He is just anointed and gifted. He laid before us the implications for the manifestation of Christ on the subject of life, and he laid before us that we’re not to be passive on this front but to be active because the Book is clear that life matters. I loved his line that it has to at least be confusing to us, but God has made it clear.
This weekend every year, the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I always tackle the topic of racial reconciliation or ethnic harmony. Now here’s what’s interesting to note. My experience is when I talk about life you guys are like, “Oh, you’re so courageous. I love that you use your prophetic voice for the good of unborn babies. I’m so glad you’re my pastor. Nobody else talks about this subject. You’re so courageous.” But then when I talk about race, people are like, “Oh man. Getting a little political there, aren’t you, Pastor?”
Let me answer the question…Why not just preach the gospel? Let me show you why. Let me show you a little picture. Let’s talk about why not just preach the gospel. If I said, “Guess where this picture was taken,” here’s what I think you would guess: “Alabama. Mississippi. Texas.” Wrong. Portland, Oregon, early 1920s, post-World War II, end of the Progressive Era in the United States, and here’s what this “revival” was all about.
Oregon at that time in the United States boasted that they were 100 percent natural-born Americans. This revival, coached under the banner of “Jesus saves,” had been provoked by…hear me…a lot of language about immigration and keeping Jews and blacks out of that part of the country. Under the banner of “Jesus saves.” This isn’t a fake photo. This is real. What incited this revival seems pretty current.
When somebody says, “Just preach the gospel,” they reveal that they lack an understanding of indicatives and imperatives, which are both in the gospel. If I could use a text that maybe would help this make sense… This is out of the book of Romans: “You have been brought from death to life.” That’s an indicative. This has happened. Then here comes the imperative right after it: “Therefore, let not sin reign in your mortal bodies.” That’s an imperative.
There are indicatives and imperatives, and both matter to the people of God. You don’t get to pick the indicatives and leave off the imperatives. They’re both there. They’re both how God is shaping and molding his people to look more like him and less like the world around them. So what I want to do is I want us to dive into this text today so we might, like Jamin said… I loved his illustration. It was his professor’s.
If you don’t know how preachers work, when you tell a story and it’s somebody else’s story, you say, “My professor said this,” and then the next time you say it you go, “I know a guy who says this,” and then the third time you say, “I often say…” So you saw where Jamin was in the process. Jamin is like, “My professor used to say the church is kind of like the trailer to a movie.” We show the best parts of what’s coming.
I want us to look at a little passage in Ephesians that I hope will help us become more and more and more a picture of what God is up to and what God is doing. There were three things I covered last year. Just to catch you up so I don’t have to do all that work again, I said one of the reasons we talk about this subject is because God bangs this drum from Genesis to Revelation.
Every time you see the word nations in the Old Testament, that does not mean nation states; it means ethnicities. In Genesis 12 and Genesis 15, when God is saying, “Through Abraham all the nations of the earth will be blessed,” he’s saying that all of the ethnicities of the earth will be blessed. Throughout the Psalms: “Let the nations be glad. Let the peoples be glad.” This is about ethnicities, not nation states. This is one of the great themes of the Bible.
Jesus aggressively confronted the false narrative of ethnic superiority repeatedly throughout his ministry. Did you ever pick up on the fact that the heroes in Jesus’ stories were never the Jews? Who loved on the guy who was robbed? The Samaritan. Jesus is having dinner with tax collectors and sinners. He’s this really controversial… One of the areas of controversy is he’s always pointing out the Jews’ false assumption in their own ethnic superiority.
Lastly, brothers and sisters, hear me: the drift in your heart and mine, regardless of your ethnicity, is always toward the mirror. We are always drawn toward those like us. Let’s just be straight. It’s easier that way, is it not? It is easier to be around people who think like me, have the same shared experience as me, have the same background as me, see the world the same way I see it. Is that not easier?
It’s not the Bible’s picture of humanity as God intends it, but Pastor has his cards down. That’s easier. But the Bible has more for us. God has more for us than some monolithic homogeny. Now this is a hard topic, and let me explain why it’s a hard topic: because you and I have been discipled by the world to hear what I’m about to say through some filters. They’re politically charged filters, so let me just get all of my cards down.
I am not a Marxist. I’m not. I am not a socialist. I said and have said for years that I think capitalism is the best idea humans could come up with. It’s not without its issues, but it’s the best idea humans could come up with. There are just too many sinners involved for it to run smoothly. I don’t think you should feel guilty for being white. I’m white. My last name is Chandler. Do a study on that. We made candles in England. There’s hardly a whiter name than Chandler. I don’t think you should feel guilty for being white.
So if during my message today you go, “Freakin’ Marxist,” that’s on you, because I’m saying I’m not saying that. “You’re a total socialist. I heard all about this on the news.” You didn’t hear nothin’ on the news, because I just said I’m not saying that. “Why do you hate your own people?” I don’t hate my own people. I am my own people. See, this is a weird reality for me. Every year on this week I have to decide if I love the Word more or I want your applause more.
This past week, for a variety of reasons, I was working out in a friend’s garage… I know when you see me you’re like, “Yeah, that dude works out.” I had the bar on my back. Yeah, just the bar. I’m wrestling with the Lord. There’s some other stuff going on that has been so heartbreaking, just crushing to me, like, new for me in 20-something years of ministry, and I’m just wrestling with the Lord. “Oh gosh, we failed here, and this is a mess, and we’re trying here. I don’t know what to do with this. I just feel stuck.”
I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but the Holy Spirit rebuked me. “Is this about your victory or about my Word? Is this about what you do well or is it about what I want? Is it about what I’m after or what you’re after?” That was a really merciful thing. It helps me stand up here and go, “I’m going to be a man of the Book, and we’re just going to let the Holy Spirit play it out.” With that said, I want us to dive into Ephesians 2:13-22.
“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. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
There are a couple of ideas here I want to start to tease out. Here is the first one: the very real truth of ethnic hostility and the belief of ethnic superiority. This is a very real thing in the Bible. I know we’re far more enlightened than that in this text. Thank God Paul wrote it, because we don’t need it anymore. He knocked all that out in Ephesians at the church at Ephesus, and the world has been different ever since then. No, this speaks to us today.
When he uses the phrase wall of hostility, he’s using it on purpose, because in the Herodian temple in Jerusalem there was a wall that separated the Gentile court from the Jewish court, and as archaeologists found that wall, they found an inscription on that wall that read, “Whoever is captured will have himself to blame for his subsequent death.” That’s hostile, is it not?
Anybody have a little eight-foot or six-foot privacy fence around their backyard? Anybody in here have that? Anybody have a sign on it that says, “Hop this fence and you’re a dead man”? My guess is not. This is hostile. So Paul is attacking this idea of ethnic superiority among the Jews. He’s saying Christ broke the wall of hostility down.
It’s not the only hostility of its day. There were actually laws forbidding Jews from interacting with Gentiles. If you’re like, “Where do you get that? Is that history?” No, that’s Bible. In Acts 10:28… We’ll catch up on the narrative in a bit, but this is Peter talking to Cornelius of the Italian cohort. He says, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation…”
That’s the law. “You know. You Gentiles know that this is unlawful.” He’s at his doorstep going, “Hey, before I come in, you know this is illegal.” Is that not hostility? “Because of the color of your skin, because of your ethnic heritage, you know it’s illegal for me to step into your house.” We’ll get to that next part in a little bit: “But God has made it clear to me…” I love that. “God has made it clear.” So you have this hostility.
Let’s pick it up in verse 15, because it seems like something is giving. Verse 15: “…by abolishing…” This is Jesus. “…the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two…” If you write in your Bible, highlight on your device, I would make a little note there, because that sentence is gigantic for what Jesus is up to on this topic. Right there. What God did is he created one new man in the place of 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.” This word new here… There are two Greek words for new. One is chronos, or time. I’m not wearing a watch, but if I was, I would be like “time.” The other one is kainos. It means unprecedented or brand new.
Last year, when I was talking about some of these things, I used the phone as an example. When we use the word new, for you and me, more often than not, we’re talking about new version of. We’re talking about, “Hey, did you get that new iPhone?” What you mean by new iPhone is “Did you get that XR? Did you get that new XR?” But this word actually means first telephone ever. “You did what? You talked to somebody who wasn’t in the room? That’s called crazy.”
“No, no, no. It’s a phone, man.”
“What’s a phone?”
“Okay. You speak into this, and through a wire it travels, and somebody else is on the other end of that wire, and they’re like, ’Hello,’ and now you’re talking.”
Brand new, never heard of, unprecedented, crazy, “Who came up with this idea?” That’s what’s happened in this text. Christ has done what no one else can do. He has made something unprecedented and new and unlike anything that has ever been. He has taken two and made them one. I love the language of oneness rather than the language of unity. Unity makes me think organizationally. Oneness means he has mixed us into one thing.
Now this does not mean one monolithic culture. I am a white guy, but I am far more than a white guy. I’m not less than being white, but I am certainly more than being white. You fill in the blank with your ethnicity. You are not less than an African-American, less than a Latino, less than an Asian, but you are more than in Christ. He has done something new. He has made this new thing. It’s wild, and it’s a little discombobulating at first.
This is what Christ has done. The old hostility, the old, “This wall exists…” That’s over. Hostility is dead. How is that possible? Because you’re one now. You’re the same. How are we the same? We have different backgrounds, different experiences. How many say that we’re one? I used to do this thing where I would ask 10 questions at the beginning of the sermon just to show you how wildly different this room is.
Do you know there are quite a few high school dropouts here and quite a few PhDs? Do you know that some of us grew up with money and some of us grew up sharing ramen noodles to stay alive? Do you know some of us grew up in homes where Jesus was exalted and the Bible was opened and we were nurtured and cherished and some of us grew up so horrifically abused and neglected it still leaves its mark on us to this day?
We are wealthy and we are poor. We are multiple different ethnicities, and here we are in this room. Here we are. What do we have in common? Gosh, we’re all over the map…except for the things that ultimately matter the most. So let’s look at that. Let’s look in verse 18.
“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, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
Here’s what we have. I love this, because here’s what he just said. You have all of these variances in your life: your ethnicity, your background, your socioeconomic status, but what ultimately matters most and will matter long after there’s no more Amazon, no more Apple, and no United States of America will be you are children of God, bought by the blood of Christ, put together for the kingdom. Therefore, my allegiance, if it’s to my own, is my own brothers and sisters in Christ and what will be forever, not what is temporary.
So what we rally around, what we celebrate, why we come together, why we don’t talk past each other, why we want to learn is because we belong to a greater kingdom. In an environment that’s so polarized and speaks past each other and villainizes each other, we must lean into the gospel so we might be that picture of light in a dark day. Now let’s do some real talk if we can. If you’re like, “I thought that’s what we were doing…” This passage is really, really clear that we are growing into. That’s present ongoing action. It’s not like you get saved and this all clicks.
When I became a Christian, here’s what I thought I had to do: don’t get drunk, leave girls alone, and stop punching people in the face. That was it. That was going to be a pretty easy deal. So, Christ comes into my heart. I just fall in love with him. I’m like, “Okay. All right. Don’t party. Leave the girls alone. Don’t punch…” That’s all I thought I had to do. No one told me how ruthlessly the Holy Spirit was going to come after everything. Right now I’m just like, “What was that thought?”
“What? I didn’t do anything with the thought.”
“Yeah, but you thought it.”
“Okay, Spirit, take every thought captive. I want you to have that.”
Just ruthlessly going, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” It’s awesome when you can kind of go, “Yes, please, please, please!” In this space, you and I are growing, and growth hurts. I’m 6’5“, and a lot of that popped off in a year and a half. If you haven’t grown like that… All of a sudden, your collarbone decides to pop up three inches. I don’t know if that’s what actually happens, but that’s the way it feels. We are growing into this. Listen. We see this all over the Bible.
Peter is up on the roof at Simon’s house. He’s just trying to take a nap, and he has this vision. In this vision, this blanket comes down from heaven, and there’s a pork sandwich in it and crispy bacon and all of these things he’s not allowed to eat. The Lord says to him, ”Peter, take and eat,“ but Peter has gotten in too much trouble. He isn’t doing it. He’s like, ”No, Lord. That’s unclean.“ This is a paraphrase. ”That’s unclean. I would never eat that. I love you too much, Jesus.“
So he gets rebuked again. Even when he’s trying not to get rebuked he gets rebuked. God says, ”If I made it and I’ve said it’s clean, then it’s clean.“ About that time there’s a knock on the door, and there’s a runner from Cornelius, who’s Italian. He’s not Jewish. He had a visit from an angel of the Lord who said, ”Hey, go get Peter. He’s at Simon’s house in Joppa.“ So he goes and grabs him, and Peter has no idea. He has some pork fat kind of running down. He’s like, ”What? Okay, let’s go.“
He gets there, and that’s where that Acts 10:28 thing is, where he’s there and he’s like, ”I’m not allowed to go in there, but God has made it clear,“ and he steps in. He hears the vision from Cornelius, and he shares the gospel. Cornelius and his family don’t even have enough respect to wait for the altar call. The Holy Spirit falls. The whole house is converted. They’re baptized on that day, and Peter freaks out.
He heads back. ”There’s this thing called bacon. I’m going to tell you about it here in a minute. So, I had this vision, so I just followed. I went to this guy named Cornelius. He’s an Italian guy. I shared the gospel. You’re not going to believe this. The Holy Spirit of God fell. I mean, tongues, baptism. It was bananas. I mean, just Holy Ghost breakthrough among the Gentiles.“ The other apostles in the church in Jerusalem were like, ”You did what? You went where?“ Peter gets squashed in his joy of seeing that.
Now this is not that far from Jesus ascending into heaven and saying, ”Go into all the world, go into all the nations, ethnic groups, and make disciples…Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.“ See the drift? See how quickly the drift back to ethnic superiority happens? ”Why would you share the good news with the Gentiles? This is for us. This is our thing. Jesus saves.“
Then in Acts 11, Stephen is killed for preaching an unapologetic gospel, and the Christian Jews scatter. The Bible makes it clear in Acts 11 they’re sharing the gospel wherever they go…as long as they come across Jews. Then our boy Peter… This is crazy. The apostle Paul has to rebuke him. You can read about this in Galatians 2.
The pull back toward the mirror, the pull back toward homogeny, the pull back toward the belief in ethnic superiority is so evasive that he refuses to eat with Gentiles and has to be rebuked, because the indicative of the gospel demands that we not just say Christ has done this but live in such a way that we show he actually has. So he has to get rebuked.
Do you see what’s happening? Even as we read through the New Testament, even as we read through Christian history, it’s growing together, it’s messy, and there are failures. We shouldn’t be surprised when we miss each other, but there has to be a commitment to stay at the table and keep muscling through and keep fighting for what Christ has bought with his blood, because that’s what this text says. Christ has done this. Christ has accomplished this. The blood of Jesus has made this possible. He has destroyed hostility and given us a chance.
This last verse, verse 22, says, ”In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.“ If we’re meant for oneness, if we’re meant to fit together in a way that glorifies God and shows the world that Jesus has done it… I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to put two things together, but if they’re not cut right, it makes it hard for them to fit.
What I want to do is kind of throw out some ideas from my own journey that you might consider. If we’re going to live this out, I want to encourage you in two ways. First, specifically if you’re Anglo… By the way, right now if you’re like, ”Why are you only talking about white?“ then I think you already have a little bit of a red flag that maybe there’s some drift. I’ve already said clearly I don’t hate my own people, but I was educated in a public school, and here’s what I know: very little of how African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Indians helped build this great nation of ours.
What I learned from my public school education is the same seven or eight black names get named. It’s like there are only seven or eight out of millions of African-Americans who actually produced anything in our nation, which is a freakin’ lie. I bet you most of us couldn’t name a Latino unless you go back to the explorers, or an Asian or an Indian. We’re ignorant. It’s not even our fault. We just don’t know what we don’t know. So get curious. Gosh, it’s fascinating to study what God has done to build this great nation of ours.
I’m going to be even a little bit more raw. It’s offensive. Email me. I’m prepared spiritually. The picture I got from my education… Let me ask this question. Do you know how many slaves were brought from Africa to the United States in that 200-year period of time? Let me answer it for you. Zero. Not one. They were kings and princes and carpenters. The picture you get if you’re educated in the public schools… Maybe it has changed.
I’m saying my education was like they were just a bunch of men and women running around in the jungle, and we actually did them a favor. ”Let’s get you out of here.“ That’s ridiculous. Do you know that in Zimbabwe and Mozambique there are these massive stone complexes, these epic cities? In fact, a 15,000-ton curved granite wall, the first of its kind in human history, apparently, was in Africa long before any Anglo stepped foot there. I had no idea. So get curious. It helps.
The second thing I would say is we have to get a lot more prayerful. This idea of ethnic superiority is demonic and exists everywhere in the world. This is not a uniquely American issue. The Devil loves to divide and break and increase hostility, and ethnicity is one of his primary playgrounds. I was in a cab in China. We were going to stop via Japan and see some people in Japan, and I was telling our cab driver that, and he just looked at me and said, ”[Blank] to all Japanese.“ I was like, ”That’s a little aggressive.“
So get curious, and you’ll see that all over the world ethnicities believe in their own ethnic superiority and create the ”other“ who is less than. Then once you’ve dehumanized and exalted yourself, you’re able to commit some of the most horrific atrocities imaginable. Jesus is saying, ”Not you, church. Not you. You will be a bright light of my grace and my reconciling power.“
We’re going to have some highs and lows in this. We’re going to have some hits and misses in this. There are going to be blow-ups that occur in our nation culturally, and if we’re not careful, we’re going to not care for our brother, not care for our sister. We’re going to join our little tribe and camp and live out the anti-gospel rather than walk in the truth of the gospel.
I want to end our time together by reading this prayer together. It’s actually a prayer that was found in the Book of Common Order for the Church of Scotland. It’s not a place you would go, ”Where could I find a great corporate prayer around the reconciliation of the different ethnic groups on earth?“ Book of Common Order from the Church of Scotland. Why don’t you stand with me? We’re going to read this out loud together.
God and Father of all, in your love you made all the nations of the world to be a family and your Son taught us to love one another, yet our world is riven apart with prejudice, arrogance, and pride. Help the different races to love and understand one another better. Increase among us sympathy, tolerance, and good will, that we may learn to appreciate the gifts that other races bring to us and to see in all people our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Save us from jealousy, hatred, and fear, and help us to live together as members of one family at home in the world, sons and daughters of one Father who live in the liberty of the children of God. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.