A Response to Charlottesville
Each Sunday morning, we declare Jesus as our King! And in the Lord’s Prayer, we ask that God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Have you ever thought of what those words mean?
In heaven, God’s kingdom is made of up of a diversity of all people – from all tribes, all nations, all ages, all genders, all ethnicities.
One of our values here at First Free is Kingdom Diversity. We seek a genuine reconciliation of all people in love and oneness in Christ. What will that look like? It means as a church we will be sensitive to our differences and extend grace to those who are not like us. It means we will grow in our diversity as a church – pursing a body that reflects the multi-ethnic, multi-generational, multi-faceted people who live in our local community. It means we will seek unity in Christ – because we are a new people!
With that said, let me respond specifically to the racism we have seen this past year across our country- including here in Minneapolis - and more recently in Charlottesville. We as a church at First Evangelical Free condemn bigotry, hate, racism and discrimination. The Alt-Right as it is being called, consisting of white nationalist, white supremacist, KKK, neo-Nazis and other racists, is completely incompatible with both the gospel and God’s kingdom.
We, at First Free, stand firmly on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the only true hope for reconciliation with God and with each other. Ephesians 2:15-19 says, “His (Christ’s) purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. . . . Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.”
Paul, of course, was addressing the division between Jews and Gentiles. He could have just as easily been addressing us today with all our differences.
The racist doctrine claiming that whites are superior to all others is diametrically opposed to biblical Christianity. The Bible teaches that God created the world as a dazzlingly beautiful unity-in-diversity (Genesis 1). God values that diversity and makes clear that every human being – regardless of race – is created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27-28). God sent his son – a brown Middle Eastern man – to save the whole world, including sinners of every race and ethnicity (John 3:16). Jesus has reconciled us to God and to each other, through the cross, breaking down any wall that would divide us. Genuine Christianity overcomes social, ethnic, and gender barriers (Galatians 3:26, 28).
Might we as a church, proclaim and live out the gospel. Let us renounce and condemn racism, in principle and in practice. As the new community created by God, and indwelt by his Spirit, living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, might we more and more be a lamppost, shining the light of Christ everywhere we go.
Dear God, we acknowledge you as our king. And indeed we ask, as you taught us, that your Kingdom would come on this earth as it is in heaven. Might we be part of that work.
Forgive us for failing to act. Forgive us for failing to live out the gospel. Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. We have no hope except in you. We have no hope to stop the violence and stem the racism and cease the destruction, except in you. We repent and turn back to you, that our sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from your presence (Acts 3:19-20).
You have told us, O Lord, what is good: to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with you. Lord, might we do that daily. Help us to love the people around us well - people of all language groups, all nations, all ages, and all colors.
Eternal Light, enable us to be your light in your darkening world.
In response to your gracious and sacrificial love, we take what you have given to us - our talents and time and our money - and we we give them all back to you. Might you bless this offering and use it for the continued building of your kingdom! Lord, challenge us to pursue righteousness and unity in our communities. Thank you for being an example of compassion and unconditional love for us. We put our hope for America in you. Amen.