So, in the growing face of division on the ethnic front, my frustration is often that the church is either silent, or so loud that you can’t hear, and generally loud about the wrong things.
However, in the reality that the church, especially the church of a lighter hue of skin, is often silent on these issues, there is an opportunity.
Do you ever have a friend who never says anything, and then they finally speak, and everyone just stops and listens? Well, silent church, it’s time to speak. It’s time for the church to be the church. It is time for the church to model Our Lord, humble ourselves and get into the equation, in order to draw men to God.
The idea of one group or another thinking that they have supremacy over another is ludicrous. The idea of differing “races” is first designed to divide us. The truth genetically is that there really is only one race, the human race. There is so little difference between differing ethnicities that you cannot divide us into “races” genetically. A difference in hue of skin is not enough to call for supremacy. We are different ethnicities, we are different nationalities, we are differing cultures, but even those are not limited to hue of skin or language spoken. Some of the greatest atrocities in history have been carried out in the name of supremacy. Even if supremacy were a reality, what should be the attitude of the one who thinks themselves supreme?
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on the cross! (Philippians 1:5-8)
The most Supreme Being in the universe, who has lived in and out of time for eternity, who created all things, who is himself completely pure and holy, did not consider his Supremacy something to be flaunted, but emptied himself, made himself nothing, took up the clothing of a servant, and served!
What should the church, the people of God be doing in the world? No less. We may be ourselves “innocent” of any wrongdoing, though that is probably not true, but still even if we are, there is action to be taken. We are given the ministry of reconciliation by God in 2 Corinthians 5. That, I believe, includes reconciliation between God and man, and people to people. Why, because Paul also says in Ephesians that the great mystery of the work of God is that people who were separate are brought together by God. People who were God’s Special people, and people who were not, are brought together by the work of Christ at the cross. How can WE do any less?
The expectation of God has always been that his people would be loving toward outsiders in an effort to bring them inside. Oh I am not talking about our right and expectation to defend ourselves against those bent on destruction and desolation. But the issue is that God always has a place for the outsider who desires to be in.
Homeless/Displaced, Fatherless, Faithless, Spouseless, Voiceless –
God has always reached out and always calls his people to do the same. Why? Because we have ALL been on the outside. We all needed to be brought in, and Christ has made that possible for all of us.
I don’t want to take time for an exhaustive exposition of the scriptures on this topic, but let me bring up a few
Exodus 22:22–24 (NIV84)
22 “Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.
Expectation? Responsibility? Accountability? Yes, yes, yes.
Deuteronomy 10:18–21 (NIV84)
18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.
Did you see verse 19 “and you …” there is an expectation and a reason … “for you yourselves were … (so) fear the Lord … serve … hold fast … he is your God”
In Deuteronomy 16:11 – every category or division of persons are called to Praise and Worship God together
Deuteronomy 24:17–22 (NIV84)
17 Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. 18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this. 19 When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. 20 When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. 22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.
What does God think about our failure to join him in these things? Notice here what God says, AND that the response of God’s people is “Amen” (so be it)
Deuteronomy 27:19 (NIV84)
19 “Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
Psalm 10:14, 18 (NIV84)
14 But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.
How do we understand love?
In 1 John 3:16-18, we see love, and see the expected response from those who know the love of God.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.”
Love requires action and is directed toward those who need it, not just toward those to whom we want to give it, or to those who give it to us. But if the scripture stopped there, Jesus did that, we would be left to decide if we should just say “thank you” or if something else was expected of us in response. But then the Holy Spirit inspired John to continue in v17 …
and WE ought to LAY down OUR lives for our BROTHERS …
Then speaking materially John says if we see our brother in need (having ability to meet the need) and do not meet the need, how can the love of God be in us?
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this takes the Spiritual response of Christ that entered the Physical Realm of laying down his life, then ties it to material needs … But the principle is there. If there is a need, and we CAN meet the need, but will not, how is that a reflection of one who is indwelt by the Spirit of God? So then John tells the Church what to do in v18 …
let us not love with words or tongue, but with action and in truth …
What should the church be doing and saying?
It is time for the church which is often silent, to speak up. Here is our opportunity. It is time for the church, which is often seen in the posture of kneeling in prayer, or standing in worship, to get busy walking in truth and acting in love. I tweeted out today, “if the church Lives Love, we earn the right to speak. When we do NOT love, we cannot speak, we lose our right to lead when we do not Live Love.”
So then, let me come back to two scriptures and close,
Psalm 146:5–10 (NIV84)
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, 6 the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— the Lord, who remains faithful forever. 7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, 8 the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 10 The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.
This is what God does. He is our hope, he is the hope of the one who is hopeless and will but turn to him. Remember Isaiah quotes God as saying “Turn to Me and Be Saved all the ends of the earth.” Oh that the Church of the Lord would live like he lives IN us. That we would be a place that upholds the cause of the oppressed, hungry, the prisoner, the blind, the broken, the displaced, the fatherless, the spouseless. If God stands with them and for them, we better get on God’s side.
Then … here is a vision for the church in the world today …
Psalm 68:1–6 (NIV84)
1 May God arise, may his enemies be scattered; may his foes flee before him. 2 As smoke is blown away by the wind, may you blow them away; as wax melts before the fire, may the wicked perish before God. 3 But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. 4 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds— his name is the Lord— and rejoice before him. 5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
Oh could we tread on thin ice here and put ourselves, as imitators of God, in this equation? Let me say it this way …
Let The Church Arise, may the enemies be scattered; may their foes flee before them. As smoke blown away by the wind, as wax melts before the fire, may the wicked perish before God. May the righteous be glad and rejoice, be happy and joyful. Sing to God, sing praise to his name, and rejoice before him. But may we be more than worshipers in a church building. May the church, modeling God, be a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, believing we must, because God is on his throne in the Holy Place. May the church be God’s instrument for settling the lonely in our families, leading forth prisoners with singing instead of stealing their song. May their ever be room, for all, in our walls, who are needy and seeking. May there be NO ROOM, for those who will abuse and divide.
Let us, dear children, love, not just with words or with tongue, in silence and separation, but let us love with action and in truth, out of the church and into the streets.