In recent years, it’s been hard to miss our country’s rise in racial tensions. Or maybe we are just seeing what’s been there under the surface all along. Our country seems overwhelmed by all kinds of racialized sentiments. And in the church, Christ’s multi-ethnic bride continues to bear the scars of deep-seated racial division and hurt that goes back decades and centuries.
By contrast, the Bible presents a glorious vision of multi-ethnic worship, centered around the throne of God (see Revelation 5, 7, 21–22). And in Paul’s letters, there is a constant refrain for a diverse people to be unified in the work of Christ and the gift of the Spirit.
On this point, this Sunday’s sermon focused on the gospel message in Galatians and how it relates to racial reconciliation. From Galatians’ six chapters, I drew out six gospel truths. In six points, we see that Galatians
- is all about the gospel;
- identifies a kind of division (in the church) that denies the gospel;
- proclaims a gospel that is international in scope and content;
- prioritizes faith as the fundamental community marker;
- teaches those who have been justified by faith alone to be passionate about justice;
- and calls the gospel community to seek justice in love, service, and burden-bearing to one another.
This sermon marks the second time I’ve preached on this subject. (The first was a biblical theology of race). As before, this subject is an incredibly heavy one, and one that still raises more questions than I have answers. That being said, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer that can give hope and help to the body of Christ bruised and broken by racism.
My prayer is that God would use this sermon as one small step to help our church grow as community compelled by the vision of Revelation and led by the directions of Galatians (and the rest of Scripture). May God bring healing to his church and may the power of gospel be see in multi-ethnic communities of faith. You can listen to the sermon online. Discussion questions and further resources are below. Continue reading →
As our church finishes up a month-long study on the spiritual disciplines—personal and public—I turn to Plain Theology for Plain People by Charles Octavius Boothe (1845–1924). In chapter 6, entitled “How Christians Should Live and Labor,” Boothe lists nine “spiritual disciplines” that should mark the life of the believer.
In what follows I will introduce the man and his work, as well as the nine spiritual disciplines that should mark every believers’ life. I encourage you, if you are looking for a short, readable book on doctrine that is heavy on Scripture and clear on doctrine, take up and read Boothe’s Plain Theology for Plain People. Continue reading →
There is a peculiar kind of glory that comes to a man
who unifies and empowers genuine diversity for a common good.
In history, we celebrate stories of heroic leaders who take disconnected misfits and make them a strong army. If you are familiar with the Bible, you might think of David and his mighty men—a diverse group of malcontents who became champions under David’s command. If you are more familiar with popular movies, you might think of Remember the Titans, where Coach Herman Boone led a newly-integrated T.C. William high school to a state football championship.
Indeed, we love to hear stories of leaders who take natural-born opponents and unite them together for the same cause. And even more, in our ultra-divided world, we need to hear these stories. And thankfully, there are many such stories that can be told.
Recently, I came across such a story in Jon Knokey’s book, Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of American Leadership. In this fascinating book, Knokey tells the colorful tale of what happened when 1000 radically-different men from all over America were formed into a single fighting unit under the leadership genius of Colonel Roosevelt.
Here’s what he says. It’s long but entertaining and worth the read as it gives a fresh illustration of what we find in Ephesians 2—something I sought to bring out in yesterday’s sermon on Christ and his Church. Continue reading →
The church is more than just a collection of individual Christians or a consumer-oriented store for the religious. It is a people created by the cross of Christ, joined together in Christ to display his power and grace to the world. For this reason, the church is called a temple. As we learned last week, temples display the power of the God who dwells therein. And in the case of the church as God’s dwelling place, we are to bear witness to who God is in worship and in the way we live.
This week’s sermon tackles this foundational matter, and with a little help from Theodore Roosevelt, we learn how the unity of a diverse army brings glory to the commander. And because Christ is our great captain, we as his people ought to linger over how we can follow him and be his church.
For this week’s sermon you can listen online or you can read the sermon notes. Discussion questions and additional resources are listed below. Continue reading →