The Insufficiency of Our Efforts to Achieve Christless Racial Reconciliation

“and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that thy would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist.”
Acts 17:26-28a (NASB)


When commenting recently on the shootings of six police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, three of whom died, veteran journalist Tom Brokaw, in opining that the election of an African-American president was evidence that sufficient racial “progress” had been made in America as to avert such incidents lamented, “I thought we’d be a different country by now.”

Why Tom Brokaw – or anyone else – would presume that President Obama, simply on the basis that his melanin is of a different hue than that of his predecessors, should inherently possess the capacity to bring to fruition this new age of collective racial harmony in our nation is beyond me.

Barack Obama didn’t suddenly become black when he was elected president, you know?

He has been black his entire life.

Since August 4, 1961 to be exact.

Obama was black during the years he spent as a community organizer in Chicago. Conversely, he remained black while serving as a state senator from Illinois prior to running for president in 2008.

Barack Obama is black even as I type this.

And he will continue to be black until the day he breathes his last.

All this to say that if the skin tone of Barack Obama, or any other person for that matter, were in and of itself adequate to effectuate the kind of racial unity Brokaw hoped would be a reality in America today, there would be ample evidence to support such a proposition.

There isn’t any.

In reflecting on Brokaw’s sentiments, which I have no reason to doubt are genuine and heartfelt, we are presented with somewhat of a paradox in that the optimism he expresses in the notion that America would be a “different country by now”, intrinsically suggests that such a reality cannot be brought to fruition by external forces as if by osmosis, but must be influenced by a transformation from within ourselves.

The immediate impact of such irony is that it permanently shifts the paradigm through which we normally would discuss matters of race relations from one of sociology to theology. For to even suggest that a “different” America is the ideal demands that we consider not only that people need to change, but why they need to change.

It is an unavoidable construct that invariably challenges us to look not to ourselves for answers, but to God.

“The moment you say that one set of moral ideas can be better than another, you are, in fact, measuring them both by a standard, saying that one of them conforms to that standard more nearly than the other. But the standard that measures two things is something different from either. You are, in fact, comparing them both with some Real Morality, admitting that there is such a thing as a real Right, independent of what people think, and that some people’s ideas get nearer to that real Right than others.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

What Tom Brokaw fails to understand is that the tone of a person’s skin has absolutely no bearing on the tenor of a person’s heart.

Attitudes, for better or worse, are always borne from within, never from without (Mark 7:21-23).

It is naive for Brokaw to suggest that Americans must “come together” to “deal with” these, and other matters of national concern, apart from a genuine desire to confront the truth about the real issue we are actually being confronted with.

Namely ourselves and our innately sinful condition (Jeremiah 17:9).

“This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections.” – Augustine

Perhaps it has never occurred to Tom Brokaw, or to anyone who happens to share his worldview, that the answer to the problem of deteriorating race relations in America is not to “come together” but to come to Christ.

It could very well be, notwithstanding the sincerity of his sentiments, that Brokaw has never truly contemplated that the transformation of a nation’s conscience is achieved only as the gospel of Jesus Christ penetrates the heart of each individual citizen, not by convening yet another town hall or launching yet another series of nationally-televised “conversations on race” (each of which has been tried ad nauseum to no lasting avail).

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” – Hebrews 4:12

If you and I were inherently capable of bringing ourselves into a right relationship with one another, there would be no need for people like Brokaw to plead that we would do so.

The reason Tom Brokaw must appeal for Americans to “come together”, is because it is not our nature to want to be reconciled to each other (Ephesians 4:17-18).

Why would anyone who is inherently capable of reconciliation ever do anything necessitating reconciliation to begin with?

If it were in our power to bring ourselves to love others who are of a different race or ethnicity than we, then, under what circumstances would we ever not love them in the first place?

These and other questions are why the answer to all racial discord – in America and around the world – is Christ and His gospel. For only the gospel sufficiently addresses the question of why we need to change, so that the resulting heart change is both lasting and impacting.

“…acts done in sin and contrary to nature can never honor God. Wherever the human will introduces moral evil we have no longer our innocent and harmless powers as God made them; we have instead an abused and twisted thing, which can never bring glory to its Creator.” – A.W. Tozer, Culture: Living as Citizens of Heaven on Earth

As the Scripture above in Acts 17:26 attests, it is God Himself who intentionally ordained you and I to display the racial and ethnic characteristics we possess. In the text, the Greek word for “nation” is speaking not of geographical boundaries, but is the word ethnos from where we derive the English word ethnicity.

Whoever we are, whatever our skin color, native language, or nationality, we are who we are because of the sovereign wisdom and volitional will of an almighty God who created each of us in His image (Genesis 1:27; Exodus 4:11).

That anyone would have the arrogance or temerity to judge another person based solely on the color of their skin – an attribute which we had absolutely nothing to do with – is sin and is a direct reflection of the darkness of our own heart (John 7:24John 8:44).

“The bloodline of Christ is deeper than the bloodlines of race. The death and resurrection of the Son of God for sinners is the only sufficient power to bring the bloodlines of race into the single bloodline of the cross.” – John Piper, Bloodlines: Race, the Cross, and the Christian

Unless our hatred of one another is placed at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ, no amount of human effort or, as Tom Brokaw phrased it, “coming together”, will suffice.

To whatever extent racism – and its consequent effects – is a social issue, it is only because racism is a sin that affects all of society. If there is a so-called “conversation” to be had on the implications and ramifications of racial reconciliation to our society, it must be initiated within the framework of biblical theology not practical sociology.

Because racism, like any other “ism”, is an attitude before it ever is an act. And attitudes – for better or worse – are always a matter of the heart.

Always.

I pray, by God’s grace, that Tom Brokaw will one day come to understand this for himself.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

The Fight For Justice Is a Battle Over Hearts Not Hashtags

PolicememorialvandalizedPolice memorial statue vandalized in Byrd Park in Richmond, Virginia
Image credit: Mark Gormus/Richmond Times-Dispatch


In Genesis 4:3-8 we are presented with what many would consider the first occurrence of injustice in all of human history.

The text describes how Cain and his brother Abel, the two children of humanity’s first parents (Genesis 4:1-2), willingly presented to God what they deemed to be an acceptable offering of worship to Him.

The offering each brother rendered to God was in a manner befitting his respective vocation. Cain, a farmer, gave to the Lord of the fruit of the ground (v.2b) Abel, a shepherd (v.2a), gave to Him of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.

Whose Justice Anyway?

Notwithstanding the historical and even contemporary theological debates that have occurred over the years about why God chose to accept the offering of Abel and reject that of Cain, suffice it to say Cain was not pleased that God had granted such deference to his younger brother (vv.4b-5a).

In fact, the original Hebrew describes the anger Cain felt as being of such intensity that he was seething inside with rage. Cain wasn’t just someone who was upset or disappointed about what had transpired, he was utterly furious over it.

But in the midst of his self-justified righteous indignation, what Cain failed to realize is that his emotions were being fueled by his own preconceived notions of what “justice” is.

When Cain’s self-defined standard of righteousness was not met by God, it was then that his “countenance fell” and he became angry (v.6b).

It was not God who caused Cain to become angry.

Nor was it his brother Abel.

What crime did Abel commit to warrant such a violent response from his brother? Conversely, what offense had God committed in favoring the offering of one brother over the other?

Even if Cain was justified in his actions, the question must be asked by what moral or ethical standard would such a determination be made?

These, and other questions like them, may appear rhetorical but I assure you they are not. For as we consider them we ultimately are led to undertake an even more serious inquiry, one which, in my humble opinion, is the most crucial of all inquests, particularly in light of recent events involving incidents of violence between police officers and minorities.

It is a question whose implications and ramifications are equally germane both to victims of injustice, as well as those who would be moved toward actionable responses to it.

The question is: by whose standard of righteousness should we live? 

How you answer that question affects every aspect of your life. 

Every aspect.

What Lies Beneath

At the root of Cain’s indignant reaction to God rejecting his offering, was the assumption that what he perceived to be an injustice gave him the unmitigated right to impart upon a sovereign, self-existent, omnipotent God his own subjective paradigm of what is just and right and fair.

So what did Cain do?

He protested by murdering his brother.

Protesting as a response to a perceived injustice is really nothing new. Long before there was #BlackLivesMatter there was #AbelsLifeMatters.

At its most fundamental level all protests, for good or ill, are rooted in pride to one degree or another.

The first sin Cain was guilty of was not murder but pride. His sin was but an impersonation of the first sin ever committed before the universe began (Isaiah 14:12-14).

Pride has such a capacity to alter and distort our perspective of situations, that we respond even to legitimate instances of injustice in unjust ways.

Hence the truism: two wrongs don’t make a right.

The natural life in each of us is something self-centered, something that wants to be petted and admired, to take advantage of other lives, to exploit the whole universe. And especially it wants to be left to itself: to keep well away from anything better or stronger or higher than it, anything that might make it feel small. It is afraid of the light and air of the spiritual world. It knows that if the spiritual life gets hold of it, all its self-centeredness and self-will are going to be killed and it is ready to fight tooth and nail to avoid it.” – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

When you think about it, particularly in light of the current state of race relations in our nation, are you and I not equally guilty of making the same assumptions as Cain?

The question is not to suggest or infer that Christians should be unperturbed or aloof concerning the incidents we see occurring all too frequently in our society today.

That is not at all what I am saying.

Scripture clearly establishes that, as followers of Christ, not only are we expected to pursue justice and point out all manner of injustice, we are commanded to do so (Micah 6:8; Ephesians 5:11).

Nevertheless, is a mandate that is a two-edged sword.

No Loopholes

The world today offers unfettered access to technology that enables anyone to freely capture and broadcast to the world images of what may appear to us to be unwarranted acts of police-involved violence.

For the Christian, however, this freedom comes with the biblical responsibility of guarding our hearts in such a way as to ensure that our voracity for justice is not rooted in an ungodly thirst for vengeance, regardless how egregious the offense may seem on the surface.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:9-21

There is no experience in life that brings us face to face with the reality of what it means, in practical terms, to confess the name of Christ than when we are treated unjustly (Leviticus 19:15). For it is in those moments that we are challenged to live up to the demands of what being a “disciple” of Jesus requires of those who follow Him (Matthew 16:24-25; 1 Peter 2:20).

Contrary to what generally is espoused by pontificates of the so-called “prosperity gospel”, the gospel of Jesus Christ is first and foremost a gospel of crosses not Cadillacs, of self-sacrifice not self-empowerment, of reconciliation not recompense.

It is a worldview in which we who profess to believe in Him are required to die moment by moment and day by day – to ourselves and to the world around us – encompassing all that we are or think ourselves to be (Galatians 6:14), realizing that:

“On the cross, by both demanding and bearing the penalty of sin and so simultaneously punishing and overcoming evil, God displayed and demonstrated His holy love; the holy love of the cross should characterize our response to evildoers today.” – John R.W. Stott, The Cross of Christ, p. 302

As Christians we must accept the fact that there are no asterisks or loopholes in the gospel.

Search the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation and you will find no fine print, no exception clauses, no situational stipulations that allow for blocking traffic on freeways, or firing weapons at police cars, or using code words that ostensibly encourage the murder of police officers (e.g. “pigs in a blanket”), or any other form of malevolent and noisome protestations.

“A man of violence entices his neighbor and leads him in a way that is not good.” – Proverbs 16:29

What this means for believers is that in every situation – irrespective of circumstances  – we willingly adopt Christ’s character, we take on Christ’s mindset, we embrace Christ’s attitude (Romans 13:13-14), fully trusting that an altogether holy and righteous God will someday redress every injustice, either in this world or in the world that is to come (1 Timothy 5:24).

This is not to suggest that Christians should adopt an attitude of passive inaction when we encounter injustice, but that whatever action(s) we endeavor to undertake must be representative of Christ and of His gospel.

The world probably won’t understand you for it.

In fact, I can assure you it won’t.

But, then, if the world understands you at all, you’re probably not doing the gospel right anyway (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Examine Yourself

Injustice demands a response.

A biblical response.

“The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.” – Augustine of Hippo

The battle we fight today is a battle over hearts not hashtags.

We must never forget that on His way to being put to death on a cross Jesus, the Son of God, who came into this world of His own volition to take upon Himself the penalty of the sins of all who would believe in Him, was blindfolded, mocked, spat upon, beaten with fists, and slapped in the face (Mark 14:64-65; Luke 22:63-65; Matthew 27:27-37; John 19:1-7).

Yet He did not retaliate.

Not once.

“Forgiveness is a dynamic concept of change. It refuses to be trapped into a fatalistic determinism. It acknowledges the reality of evil, wrong and injustice, but it seeks to respond to wrong in a way that is creative of new possibilities. Forgiveness signals an approach to wrong in terms, not of peace at any price, nor of a destructive intention to destroy the wrongdoer, but of a willingness to seek to reshape the future in the light of the wrong, in the most creative way possible.” – Dr. David Atkinson, Peace In Our Time, p. 167

As followers of Christ, our impetus for exposing and responding to injustice must never be to exact some degree of “targeted” revenge, but to declare that God’s standard of righteousness has been transgressed in that one human being who was created in His image has been devalued by another human being who, likewise, is created in His image (Genesis 1:27).

Christians are to work to defend those who are created in the image of God. Yet we must remember to reflect the image of God in doing so.

Never in anger.

But always in love.

Always.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

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Taking a Fresh Look at the Life of Jonah: 9 Biblical Principles to Consider


It should go without saying that the Old Testament account of the prophet Jonah is one with which most of us are familiar to one extent or another.

Since our earliest childhood our parents, Sunday School teachers, and pastors have regaled us with their interpretations – often exaggerated in an effort to keep us interested  – of how Jonah survived being swallowed up by a really big fish.

Unfortunately, it is the “fishy” part of the story that is usually focused on.

What type of sea creature (fish, whale, or other) it was in whose stomach Jonah resided, or for how long, is not my primary concern.

It isn’t that I don’t care about the significance of that particular element of the story, only that it is not my intent in this commentary to engage in a discourse about how such an event should be understood hermeneutically.

That said, suffice it to say I believe there are any number of other principles that can be gleaned from the life of Jonah that go well beyond those to which we have become so comfortable today.

Such as:

  • Once God has determined to use you, for whatever His sovereign purpose(s) might be, like it or not, you are going to be used by Him (Jonah 1:1-3).
    Jonah seemed to not immediately comprehend who it was that was commanding him to go to Nineveh. Not that he was not cognizant that it was God who was speaking to him, but that he did not acknowledge the authority of God in what he had been commanded to to do. Consequently, Jonah failed to realize that his plan to flee from God was not only nonsensical in its conception, but that it was destined to fail from the outset. In other words, Jonah never came to the understanding that resistance to God and His divine purposes for his life is utterly futile.
  • If it were possible for you to run from God, not only would He not be God, but He could never have chosen to use you to begin with (Jonah 1:4).
    God knew exactly where Jonah was so that His word could be imparted to him concerning the people of Nineveh. How Jonah could ever think it possible to flee from the presence of an omniscient God, who Himself is the creator of every inch of the city of Tarshish to which he was attempting to escape, is puzzling to say the least. Perhaps it never occurred to Jonah that if such a thing were at all possible, that the God from whom he was attempting to flee would have proven Himself to be no God at all (Psalm 33:13-14).
  • God is sovereign even over the means and methods by which you attempt to avoid obeying Him (Jonah 1:4-16).
    In his unwitting naiveté, Jonah apparently convinced himself that the domain over which God ruled was exclusive to heaven and not earth; that a “separation of powers”, if you will, existed between God and His creation that limited God’s access to Jonah once he was aboard ship and on his way to Tarshish. It is a sad contradiction in that Jonah believed in the God who created the earth (Genesis 1:1), yet also believed that that same God would somehow be unable to locate him anywhere he chose to go on the earth which He created (Psalm 24:1).
  • That God would discipline you is evidence of His persevering love toward you, even in the midst of your willful disobedience (Jonah 1:17-2:10).
    Like many of us when we find ourselves in the throes God’s discipline, Jonah defaulted to focusing on the what of his situation as opposed to the why. In doing so, he failed to recognize his predicament as an opportunity afforded him by a patient and loving God to repent of his disobedience and submit to His will (Romans 2:4). Though Jonah ultimately repented or, perhaps better, consented, his repentance was not genuine; for not long after God delivered him from the stomach of the fish, he began again to complain to God. Perhaps you can relate? I can.
  • It is always in your best interest to obey God and leave the results of your obedience to Him (Jonah 3:1-9).
    The prideful stubbornness exhibited by Jonah necessitated God reiterating His original command that he go to Nineveh. That God responded to Jonah’s disobedience with grace when He had every right not to, is a testament both to the kind of God we serve and the kind of people we innately are. It should never be presumed because we serve a God of grace, that God somehow owes it to us to always be gracious toward us. Only God is God (Isaiah 45:5-6). We are not. Consequently, we are in absolutely no position to make demands or to have any such expectations of second chances of Him (Romans 9:15).
  • God’s choosing to use you is about His agenda not yours (Jonah 3:10).
    From the moment God commanded Jonah to go to Nineveh, Jonah made it all about himself. In fact, Jonah is a lot like believers today whom I refer to as a “Solar System Christians”. Solar System Christians are people who think themselves to be the sun and everyone else planets that revolve around them. Like Jonah, they fail to appreciate the privilege of being used by God at all, regardless of whether they themselves reap any tangible benefit from it (Luke 6:35). As a result of his preaching, Jonah played an integral role in bringing salvation to a city of 120,000 people. But he couldn’t care less about that. As far as Jonah was concerned, the problem was simply that the “planets” that composed his personal solar system were misaligned.
  • We must accept that regardless how God chooses to use us, the outcome has already been predetermined (Jonah 4:1-4).
    How sad it is that Jonah believed he could somehow influence what a sovereign, omniscient, and omnipotent God had already determined to bring to fruition. One could deem it admirable, I suppose, that Jonah was so forthright in confessing to God that his fleeing to Tarshish was an attempt to “forestall” what God intended to bring about for the people of Nineveh. On the other hand, however, it was naive at best that Jonah would ever think that such a thing were even possible (Jeremiah 1:12). But, then, are you or I any different in how we oftentimes view God (Job 42:2; Psalm 33:11; Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 14:24, 46:8-11; Acts 1:7, 4:27-28)?
  • Obeying God protects us from untold self-inflicted suffering (Jonah 4:5-8).
    What Jonah experienced during his rather circuitous route to Nineveh, is but one of many examples in Scripture in which servants of God brought the discipline of God upon themselves. People like Adam and Eve, Moses, Saul, David, and Sampson, among others, come to mind. That the suffering Jonah endured was self-inflicted makes his an even sadder story. Is there any worse discipline one can experience, than that which we bring upon ourselves as a result of our willful disobedience to a God whose will is always best for us (Ezekiel 18:31-321 Peter 5:7)? I doubt it.
  • Do not let your disobedience force God to remind you who is God and who is not (Jonah 4:9-11).
    I doubt there is another example in all of Scripture where obeying God made someone feel so badly, but that was Jonah. In fact, Jonah was so disheartened that he threw himself a one-man pity party, hoping in vain that God would “understand” and deliver him from is woe-is-me existence. Instead, God rebuked his antics, sternly setting him in his proper place. If the story of Jonah teaches us anything, it is that when God commands us to do something, He expects us to obey immediately, fully, and without excuse. It is far better for us to remind ourselves who is God and who is not, than for God to have to do it for us (John 3:36Acts 3:19).

Soli Deo Gloria!

Darrell

Reflections on the 4th of July From a Black Christian Conservative

https://i1.wp.com/www.famlii.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/African-American-Siblings-Hugging-at-fourth-of-july.jpgImage credit: famlii.com


“…and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.”
Acts 17:26 (NASB)

I distinctly remember celebrating Independence Day as a young boy growing up in the Dixie Hills housing projects on the west side of Atlanta. For black families in the 1970s, especially children, the 4th of July was, in many ways, a lot like Christmas Day.

It was a celebration, not only of the birth of America as a nation but also of family, friends, and God, whom we always credited with providing us the opportunity to live in a free nation as the United States.

Poor But Proud

Despite the material poverty experienced by the majority of black families in the Dixie Hills community, and in others like it, we never lost sight of the significance of having the God-ordained privilege of living in a nation where people are free.

That our financial station in life was not on par with other families we knew, never negatively influenced or affected the high view of America that had been imparted to us by our parents (both of whom had only a high school education).

The elation of celebrating Independence Day was a constant reality for myself and my two siblings as my mom, whose birthday was also on the 4th of July, would accompany us on the Number 3 bus (we didn’t own a car) to the West End Mall where she would let us shop for new red-white-and-blue “patriotic” clothes to wear.

Poor as we were, to us Independence Day wasn’t just another “holiday” that afforded us a day out of school or that our parents didn’t have to work (though oftentimes they did). It was an occasion that everyone celebrated because we were Americans who were proud of America. Whatever apparel her few spare dollars could afford – be it a new t-shirt, a pair of jeans, a new pair of Converse®  sneakers (which we called “tennis shoes”) – my mother would buy for us.

And then there were the picnics at Washington Park.

Ribs, chicken, potato salad, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, and all the Big-K (Kroger grocery store brand) soda you could consume. Not to mention the requisite Soul Train line dance that would ultimately – and hilariously – break out after everyone had had their fill of food.

Indeed, the 4th of July truly was a celebration for most black families. The level of excitement my brother, sister, and I had at celebrating the 4th of July was as high as that of any child on Christmas Eve night.

But, as I said, that was then.

The Inevitable Assertion

These days it seems there is hardly anything of any redemptive value about America.

It is as if all anyone wants to do is complain about what it is like to live here. Depending on who you ask, everything about America wreaks of racism – and any other “ism” you might care to invent.

Think about it.

In 2016 America, it is now considered “racist” to:

  • fly the American flag anywhere
  • be supportive of the military
  • cite or recite the United States Constitution
  • quote any of the Founding Fathers (because “they were all slaveholders”)
  • claim to be a Christian or even go to church
  • pray at any public school event
  • recite the Pledge of Allegiance

All of the above are things I was not only encouraged to do as a child, but was expected to do as a citizen of this country.

Undoubtedly, there will be those who will read this post who, as opposed to taking the time to digest my comments in context, will instead choose to resort to such knee-jerk responses as, “But racism still exists!” (as if I don’t already know that.)

Though this commentary is not about whether or not racism exists in America (or anywhere else), my response to that is, of course racism exists in America – Duh?! – and in every other nation on the face of the globe. During my lifetime, I probably have read more on the subject of slavery, particularly in America, than on any other subject with the exception of biblical theology.

Why?

Because there is a direct relationship between the enslavement of one person who is created in the image of God by another person who likewise is created in the image of God, and our innate condition as sinful human beings.

Racism exists because racism is sin; and since all people are sinners (Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:23), it stands to reason that all racists are sinners (though not all sinners are racist).

It is time we realize that racism will continue to be a reality in America, and the world, as long as sin continues to be a reality in the hearts of people like you and me. In that regard, America is no different than any other nation on earth, because every nation is populated by sinners.

Why so many today want to isolate America as if it were an exclusively racist nation is beyond me. Take a census of any nation’s population and that is exactly the number of sinners it has.

The only remedy for racism in America – or in any nation for that matter – is the gospel of Jesus Christ. For only the gospel, working through the power of the Spirit of God, can transform the sinful hearts of those who inhabit it (Exodus 22:21; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Romans 1:16: 1 John 3:16-17; 1 John 4:7; 20).

Tell Them I’m Not Home

America has a tarnished history. Absolutely, it does. You will get no argument from me there.

Then, again, tarnishing things is what sinners do.

Because sinners are themselves tarnished (Ephesians 2:1-3).

As Christians who live in America, we must be ever-mindful that our identity is found only in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:27-28) and that America is not our home.

With this reality in mind, any displays of “patriotism”, for lack of a better word, must be offset by the understanding that our true home is in heaven, the only place where perfect justice and righteousness dwells.

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of the Lord has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” – Revelation 21:23-27 (NASB)

That said, notwithstanding its history of slavery, and other abuses of humanity that have occurred and that continue to occur (e.g. abortion), I consider myself blessed by God to live in this nation.

As imperfect as America is, and imperfect as it undoubtedly will remain, to have been born and raised in this nation, despite the material possessions my family never had or the opportunities with which we were never presented, is nothing short of an act of grace on the part of a sovereign God who, in His wisdom and omniscience, could have chosen otherwise for me.

I am thankful He did not (Acts 17:26).

Examine Yourself

If I had to do it all over again, there is nothing about my experience as a black American that I would change.

Not one thing.

As a Christian, I realize that I am expected to live in this nation as an alien and a stranger. As such, I fully understand and accept that this country owes me nothing. Nothing at all. Likewise, I have no such expectations of it.

Contrary to what the media often depicts, I am not some angry black man looking for evidence of racism wherever I can find it, just so I can use it against this nation for my own personal benefit.

It stands to reason that situations of injustice, unfairness, and inequality will occur in a world and nation that continues to experience the devastating effects of the fall of mankind into sin (Genesis 3). Even so, there are many more instances in this nation in which justice, fairness, and equality win out.

“Be glad that you are free. Free to change your mind. Free to go most anywhere, anytime. Be glad that your are free. There’s many a man who’s not. Be glad for what you have, baby, what you got.” – Prince, Free, from the album 1999.

So, yes, I will continue to fly my American flag, support our nation’s military, study the Constitution, quote the Founding Fathers, boldly declare that I am Christian, attend church on a regular basis, pray openly and audibly at public school events, and proudly recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

All of this with the full understanding that I am looking forward to a far better country than this one (Hebrews 11:16), where I will be free to celebrate my “independence” from sin and enjoy forever the bountiful wonders of eternal life that have been graciously afforded me by the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross (Romans 5:6-8).

Heaven can be your home, too, if you know Christ as your Savior and Lord (1 John 5:11-12).

Do you?

Soli Deo Gloria!

Darrell

Related:

Should Christians Be Patriotic? – Interview with John Piper (Desiring God)
The Home of the Brave – Jon Bloom (Desiring God)
Citizens of Heaven – Keith Mathison (Ligonier Ministries)
Thoughts on Christian Patriotism – Reformation 21
What Is True Liberty? – Gene Edward Veith (Ligonier Ministries)
Be Thankful For America, But Do Not Rest Your Hope In Her – Fred Greco

“November Nirvana” or The Misguidedness of Viewing Politics as a Means to National Salvation

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The 2016 presidential election is less than six months away and, as with previous election cycles, curiosity abounds concerning the question of what role Christians will play in determining who will occupy the White House for the next four years.

Now, having read that opening statement, please note what I did not say.

I did not say that the question Christians are facing is for which candidate we should vote. I did not say that because that is not the question.

The reason it is not the question is because to engage in a discourse about which presidential candidate Christians should support, is to be guilty of putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

Such “political bandwagoning” –  a term I use to describe the habit many Christians have of latching themselves onto a particular candidate based primarily on the attractiveness of the message being proffered, rather than allowing themselves to be guided by the counsel provided in the word of God – is to a large extent why America today finds itself experiencing the effects of such a rapid cultural and, yes, spiritual demise.

The truth is there are any number of fundamental predecessor questions and considerations that Christians should, or better yet, must, undertake prior to entertaining any notion about what presidential candidate is most deserving of their support.

A Pre-Decision Decision

The word Christians (Χριστιανός) first appears in the Bible in Acts 11:26.

Since the earliest days of the New Testament church, the term Christian has been used to describe not only those who profess by mere verbal ascent to believe in Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9) but who, on the basis of an objective assessment of their lifestyle (Ephesians 2:10), were deemed to be committed followers (ἀκολουθέω) of Christ.

In fact, the early church viewed a person’s lifestyle as being so inexorably connected to his or her identification with Christ that:

“If a slave wished to become a Christian, his or her master would be consulted. Once the background checks were passed, the candidate’s job performance was assessed. A number of professions were considered incompatible with Christianity. These included anything to do with prostitution, anything to do with magic or divination, and anything to do with the theater or with games (because of the association with pagan religions). Military commanders and magistrates were not eligible to join, because their jobs involved ordering executions, something to which the Christians were opposed. A soldier could join provided he vowed never to execute anyone, even if ordered, and painters and sculptors could join, provided they vowed never to make an idol.” – Jonathan Hill, Zondervan Handbook to the History of Christianity, p. 46, Becoming a Christian

To make merely an oral declaration to be a Christian has never sufficed in and of itself as definitive proof to validate such a claim.

Scripture clearly teaches that such an attestation must be augmented by an observable pattern of life that is modeled after the One in whom we profess to believe (Luke 6:46; 1 John 2:6).

It is the evidentiary Christian life – a life that is distinctly observable to others – that distinguishes the professing believer (one who merely claims to be a follower of Jesus) from the confessing believer (one whose lifestyle demonstrably mirrors that of Jesus Christ).

“The growth of ignorance in the Church is the logical and inevitable result of the false notion that Christianity is a life and not also a doctrine; if Christianity is not a doctrine then of course teaching is not necessary to Christianity. But whatever be the causes for the growth of ignorance in the Church, the evil must be remedied. It must be remedied primarily by the renewal of Christian education in the family, but also by the use of whatever other educational agencies the Church can find. Christian education is the chief business of the hour for every Christian person. Christianity cannot subsist unless men know what Christianity is; and the fair and logical thing is to learn what Christianity is, not from its opponents, but from those who themselves are Christians.” – J. Gresham Machen, Christianity & Liberalism, p. 149

Understanding the distinction between what is a professing Christian and what is a confessing Christian is absolutely crucial, particularly as it relates to developing a biblical theology of politics.

Before Christians can endeavor to undertake the question of which presidential candidate we should support, we must first and foremost deal with the matter of what kind of Christian we aspire to be (James 1:22-25).

Until that question is answered definitively and truthfully, everything else is secondary.

Everything.

A Dangerous Disconnect

When it comes to voting, and elections in general for that matter, Christians who do vote (because there are many do not) are no different than anyone else.

They tend to view being engaged in the electoral process strictly in the sense that such involvement is merely their civic duty; a right they are obliged to exercise as an uninspired and rote expression of appreciation for a perceived benevolence imparted to them by an increasingly secular and ungodly State (Deuteronomy 16:18-20).

Rarely, if ever, it seems, do followers of Christ view their participation in the electoral process as an obligation owed to a sovereign God to whom they will one day give an account for how they exercise that right (if in fact they do so at all).

Such a myopic and worldly mindset is puzzling, particularly given the fact that the very concept of government, in all its various and sundry forms, originated with God (Romans 13:1).

“Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God … Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you, He does see it, and He will bless or curse this nation, according to the course they [Christians] take.” – Charles G. Finney, Lectures on Revivals of Religion (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1868), Lecture XV, pp. 281-282

Notwithstanding the ongoing debate over the (un)constitutionality of “separation of church and state” as a binding legal precept, many Christians have likewise chosen to separate, partition, and otherwise disconnect their biblical worldview (to whatever degree it exists) from their political ideology, when the exact opposite should be the case (Romans 12:2).

The enduring consequence of such willful political dissonance is that collectively, as a nation, we will continue to pay an exorbitantly high price, particularly spiritually. The devastating, and disheartening, effects are already quite evident.

I need not delineate them.

Just look around you.

The Heart of the Matter

When you take the time to peel back all the layers, what you will find is that what lies at the heart of all political systems, regardless of ideological persuasion, is an innate desire on our part to experience the purity and perfection that existed prior to the fall of Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-8).

Notwithstanding one’s individual stance on issues such as immigration reform, taxes, abortion, or school choice, at a fundamental level what we all want is a government that provides us the same sense of personal satisfaction and security we get whenever we buy a new car, a new a pair of shoes, or a new smartphone.

That is really what we want.

For it is in those momentary situations that we feel all is right with the world.

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

Of course, we dare not admit that our personal political dispositions are framed in such vainglorious terms as the aforementioned, but it is true nonetheless.

Something within us longs to know what this imperfect and unjust world of ours would be like, if only the effects brought upon it by the failure of our first parents could somehow be reversed (Romans 8:22-23). This longing runs so deep that we convince ourselves every few years that there exist men and women who inherently possess the requisite attributes and abilities to bring such a just and righteous world to fruition.

There’s a word for that kind of world, you know?

It’s called heaven.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I hear a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and he will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death, there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:1-4 (NASB)

Please understand that none of what I have said is to suggest that Christians should not be actively involved in the political process.

Quite the contrary.

In fact, I would even argue that a primary reason why America is in the spiritual abyss it is in today, is the propensity of many Christians to compartmentalize their stated beliefs – especially with regard to politics – as if the Word of God is somehow not to be appropriated to certain areas of our earthly existence.

Needless to say, nothing could be further from the truth.

Examine Yourself

For the Christian – the confessing Christian, that is – there is no aspect of life to which the authority of God’s Word does not apply. You can search the Scriptures until you’re blue in the face, but you will find no:

  • asterisks
  • fine print
  • exception clauses

As Christians, that we are to be “in the world but not of it” (John 17:15-16) does not mean – and never has meant – that we should not be involved the political machinations of the world.

It is nonsensical, on the one hand, to think that Christ would pray to His heavenly Father that His elect would not be taken out of the world and yet, on the other hand, think that by doing so Christ intended for His people to not be actively engaged with a world in which He prayed for us to remain.

Nevertheless, as we participate in the electoral process we must remind ourselves that when we cast our vote we are not electing a savior.

Why?

Because saviors aren’t elected.

That job is already taken.

“We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” – 1 John 4:14 (NASB)

Soli Deo Gloria!

Darrell

The Legacy of Muhammad Ali and How Being ‘The Greatest’ Still Isn’t Quite Good Enough

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Few things in this world give insight into the theology of individuals who profess to be Christian than the death of a beloved celebrity.

Prior to their earthly demise, most Christians are staunch particularists when it comes to a celebrity’s eternal destiny; rigidly dogmatic that salvation (heaven) is obtained through faith in Jesus Christ alone (Acts 4:12).

And yet once it becomes known to them that the earthly life of the iconic figure they admire has come to an end, they instantly morph into universalists, being convinced by their emotional attachment to the now-deceased individual that the doctrine to which they subscribed only a few hours earlier no longer applies; that God, because He “loves everyone”, will simply throw aside the crucifixion of His only Son (John 3:16) and welcome the person into heaven with open arms, regardless what he or she may have believed about Christ before death visited them.

This is theological hypocrisy.

Self-Salvation: No Atonement Required

What this kind of doctrinal genuflection ultimately proves is that when it comes to the celebrities we idolize, Christians are neither particularists nor universalists. What we actually are is relativists, as our theology of God, salvation, death, and eternity, is predicated upon the level of adoration we ascribe to the celebrities to whom we allow ourselves to become so attached.

Though the Bible is unambiguous in its proclamation that saving faith in Christ is the only means by which anyone will experience eternity with God (John 14:6; Romans 10:9), many Christians treat it as optional when it comes to the death of the celebrities they revere. This mindset represents a kind of doctrinal duality that was widely expressed by Christians when Prince, who was a Jehovah’s Witness, died several weeks ago, and is now evident in the aftermath of the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, himself a devout practitioner of Islam.

That both Prince and Muhammad Ali subscribed to worldviews that deny the deity of Jesus, is apparently of no consequence to many Christians today. The only thing that really matters is that they appear to have lived a “good life”, employing their talents, gifts, and resources in the most admirable of worldly pursuits: bringing happiness to countless millions of people all over the world. After all, isn’t that why we’re here – to live a moral life by doing good to one another and treating each other with respect? What in the world does the deity of Jesus have to do with anything? Besides, we are all God’s children, aren’t we?

Are we? (John 1:12-13)

“We are not living in a world where all roads are radii of a circle and where all, if followed long enough, will therefore draw gradually nearer and finally meet at the center: rather in a world where every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork, you must make a decision.” – C.S. Lewis

What is so disheartening about this banal mindset is that it renders moot the necessity that our sins be atoned for. That our sin, which the Bible says has separated us from God (Romans 3:23), can be atoned for by God (Romans 5:8) is what distinguishes Christianity from all other religious worldviews. But if my “good behavior” is ultimately the primary factor in determining my eternal destiny, the question then becomes: why is there an atonement at all?

Certainly there must have been “good works” being performed by people long before Jesus came into the world? If that’s the case – and it is – then why did Christ have to come to earth to begin with, let alone die a humiliating death on a cross for someone like me? Wouldn’t it have been much easier for Him to just remain in heaven and then, when I die, simply weigh my good deeds against my bad to decide whether or not I “made it” into heaven?

Christian Universalism: A Theology of Likability 

For professing Christians to so easily set aside what is undoubtedly the fundamental tenet of Christianity, namely, the deity of Jesus (John 8:58; 4:24-26Colossians 1:15, 2:9), in exchange for a theology rooted in the belief that our works are somehow determinant of our eternal destiny – as opposed to faith alone in the atoning work of Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:16) – is, sadly, a testament to the fact that many Christians today have no genuine conviction about what they profess to believe – if in fact they even know what they believe to begin with (John 6:64a).

Let’s be honest.

In today’s politically correct world – and church – many Christians are simply uncomfortable with what the Bible teaches about the eternal destiny of unbelievers. By “uncomfortable” what I am actually saying is that they do not believe what the Bible teaches on the matter, not to mention what Jesus Himself said about it.

Their default way of thinking is that to even mention the mere possibility that a person could go to hell is “judging” and, as we all know, a Christian “should never judge” anyone about anything (John 7:24).

They misunderstand the distinction between judging and condemning, which results in a universalist way of thinking that assumes everyone goes to heaven if for no other reason than that, as finite human beings, we “can’t really know for sure”, even though the Bible clearly teaches otherwise (John 5:241 John 2:23).

“Secular people still believe there’s sin, judgment, and punishment. But secularism defies any universal standard established by God, much less moral culpability before this God. Of course, people make mistakes and hurt each other. But if people are held guilty, the punishment, of course, has to be in this world, not the next. Secular people don’t burn in hell, they burn in the court of public opinion.” – Barry Kosmin (as quoted in the book Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church by Michael Horton)

When a celebrity dies who possessed the level of worldly acclaim and notoriety as Muhammad Ali – and few there are today who have attained to such rarefied air – it is interesting, to say the least, to observe how quickly we who profess to be Christian will go on the defensive about where the soul of that person is spending eternity (Matthew 25:46).

It is an attitude borne not out of a desire to defend the veracity of what the Bible objectively teaches about death, heaven, and hell, mind you, but to promote one’s own subjective determination about where the person they so ardently admired must certainly be at this present time. Invariably, the conclusion drawn by such argumentative Christians is always that their beloved idol is in heaven.

They never are in hell.

Never.

Hell Is For Hitler

Most Christians today would profess to believe in the existence of hell. I have no doubt of that. But since God judges us solely on the “Santa Claus Principle”, that is, whether we’ve been bad or good, a person would essentially have to live a life resembling that of Adolf Hitler to actually go to hell when they die.

It is this behavior-centered philosophy of salvation which, on the one hand, makes Christians comfortable with the idea that such a heinously violent individual as Hitler would be viewed as the “poster child” for people we personally deem deserving of hell, while on the other hand causes us to wrestle with the seemingly unfathomable notion that someone as likable and accomplished as Muhammad Ali could actually spend eternity apart from God, especially given that, according to our human estimation anyway, he was such a “good person” (Luke 18:18-27).

“Do you believe in divine judgment? By which I mean, do you believe in a God who acts as Judge? Many, it seems, do not. Speak to them of God as a Father, a friend, a helper, one who loves us despite all our weakness and folly and sin, and their faces light up; you are on their wavelength at once. But speak to them of God as Judge and they frown and shake their heads. Their minds recoil from such an idea. They find it repellent and unworthy.” – J.I. Packer, Knowing God

If we were honest, we would have to admit that the real issue here is that we love our celebrities (1 John 2:15) more than we love our God (Mark 12:30).

In fact, our adoration of these individuals runs so deep that we are perfectly willing to build an entire theology around our fondness for them. As was the case with Prince, so it is with Muhammad Ali. What we believe about the eternal destiny of these individuals is shaped not by what the Word of God says, but how highly we esteem them for the life they lived and the legacy they left behind (which is idolatry).

To continue in this mindset is to demonstrate how superficial our theology of God truly is. Rather than stand on what Christ – who is God – has declared about the eternal destiny awaiting those who do not believe in Him (John 3:36), we would much rather engage one another in emotion-fueled arguments about whether the person we idolize, who died without having confessed Christ as Lord or whose life did not bear the fruit of a regenerated heart (Matthew 3:8), is actually with God in heaven when the truth is Jesus has already settled the issue – and definitively so (Romans 3:20, 28; 1 John 5:11-12).

“The Bible’s bad news is not to be glossed over, hidden away, or avoided. Without the Bible’s bad news, its good news will have no meaning. The center of biblical theology is nonnegotiable for evangelism precisely because God saves people through judgment for His glory. If a man does not perceive that God is holy, righteous, just and personally offended by transgressions, he will see no need for Jesus. God is holy, righteous, just, and personally offended by the sins we commit, and the more clearly we see this, the more deeply we will feel our desperate need for Jesus. God’s wrath makes His mercy beautiful. Without His wrath, His mercy has no meaning and no one has any need for it.” – James H. Hamilton, Jr., God’s Glory In Salvation Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology, p. 566

Examine Yourself

You will get no argument from me that Muhammad Ali was without a doubt one of the most admired and well-respected human beings to ever live.

He will be remembered for years to come for exhibiting many admirable moral and ethical qualities, not the least of which was the courage of his personal convictions while enduring years of targeted racial and religious discrimination.

No one likes to think of anyone dying and spending eternity in hell. Not even God Himself (Ezekiel 18:23). Nevertheless, as Christians, the legacy of Muhammad Ali challenges us to ponder an unavoidable question: do we truly believe salvation is through the substitutionary atonement of Christ alone or do we see our own morality as salvific, thereby rendering the death of Jesus effectively meaningless?

“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe…being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith…so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” – Romans 3:21-26 (NASB)

The gospel leaves no room for a “hybrid salvation” – part Jesus’ work and part my good works. If you profess to be a Christian, then you must acknowledge that either faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven or it is not.

The answer can only be one or the other.

It cannot be both.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB)

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

Related: 

Why Are So Many Christians Bored With The Bible? – Desiring God
Universalism: Will Everyone Go To Heaven? – Randy Alcorn
Is Election Unfair? – R.C. Sproul
The Grounds of Our Justification – Ligonier Ministries
David Platt on the Doctrine of Hell – Desiring God
What Is The Gospel? – Ligonier Ministries
The Truth About Hell – Grace To You
Post-Christian Christianity (Video) – R.C. Sproul

 

Black Christian Millennials: Seeking Perfect Justice in an Imperfect World

Image credit: fusion.net


Disclaimer: The following commentary is in response to an article published on the website fusion.net entitled Black Youth Are Going Church-Hopping and Here’s Why by Tyree Boyd-Pates. It is not meant as a criticism of Mr. Boyd-Pates nor of black millennials in general. It is merely my humble attempt to respectfully engage in a dialogue about the issues raised in Mr. Boyd-Pates’ article.


Millennials often get a bad rap.

Born in the 1980s and 1990s, these young men and women are consistently portrayed as lazy, entitled, and selfish. My purpose with this commentary is not to argue the merits or demerits of such labeling. Nevertheless, I do find it interesting that a vast majority of media coverage of this segment of our society tends to omit black millennials.

It is as if black millennials do not exist.

They do exist.

And they are not happy.

Of course, this is not to suggest that literally every black millennial alive today is walking around with a raised fist or a megaphone blaring in someone’s ear. Nor is it to infer that, to whatever degree such an acrimonious attitude may or may not be a reality, that it is borne out of any unrighteous motive or ill intent.

Not at all.

I am simply trying to convey that as a component of this particular generation, black millennials, much like their grandparents during the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s and their parents in the Black Power decade of the 1970s, are finding purpose and voice in advocating for social justice, a pursuit whose efforts have historically been fueled by the ambitious, if not impertinent, protestations of young people within the Black Church.

Fast forward to 2016 and not much has changed.

Like their primogenitors before them, the black Christian youth of today want change, they want it now, and they want the Black Church to once again be on the front lines in bringing that change to fruition. It is a point made unambiguously clear by Shamell Bell, a Black Lives Matter activist who, in the Boyd-Pates piece, declares that:

“If the church is not going to get on board, then young black folks will continue to hop from church to church getting their fix of religion until they stop going altogether and imagine church in a new way. That means if we get together in our homes weekly and love each other and show the fruit of the spirit, that is where our church will be.”

The “church-hopping” of which Bell speaks paints a rather disheartening picture in that many black millennial Christians see Christ merely as a righteous renegade, an anointed antagonist, a divine dissenter.

https://static-secure.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2013/12/27/1388173452689/Darcus-Howe-014.jpgImage credit: theguardian.com

Within this paradigm, the gospel is viewed less in terms of individual spiritual transformation and more as a means toward collective social reformation.

Consequently, the itinerant “street preaching” style Jesus employed serves as a contemporary model for what I have termed a “discipleship of confrontation”, the objective being the universal application of God’s perfect and righteous justice as if through intimidation, particularly with regard to matters of race and economics.

It is a view that has given rise to a socio-ethno ecclesiology which is more militant than missional, and more combative than confessional. 

This is not to suggest, of course, that black Christian millennials are inherently pro-violence or that social disorder is their preferred method for the redress of grievances. The Bible is clear that not all confrontation must be confrontational. There is a difference. (Matthew 18:15; Luke 20:1-2; James 5:19-20). 

“Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” – Proverbs 31:8-9 (NASB)

To be sure, Christianity and social justice are not mutually exclusive terms, neither is the concept of Christian social activism a new one.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Clapham Sect, an evangelical group led by English philosopher John Venn, and among whose members was abolitionist William Wilberforce, worked tirelessly to outlaw slavery both in England and around the world. The Salvation Army, created by Methodist minister William Booth in the 1860s, was founded out of a concern for the social welfare of families residing in the rat-infested slums of inner-city London. There also is Thomas Barnardo, an Irish evangelical who, over the course of his life, opened and operated nearly 100 hostels that housed more than 8,000 homeless children.

There are, undoubtedly, countless other examples, but I’m sure you get the point.

No, social activism is not foreign to Christianity. In fact, it is foundational to it. Nevertheless, social activism is not all that Christianity is. In truth, it is not even what primarily defines it, which is exactly the point I fear church-hopping black millennial Christians are missing.

“In our manner of speech, our plans of living, our dealings with others, our conduct and walk in the church and out of it – all should be done as becomes the gospel Philippians 1:27a.” – Albert Barnes

Who in this world does not want a more righteous society in which justice is truly blind?

Then, again, to even contemplate such an inquiry, rhetorical though it may be, presents us with yet another question to consider: the question of why justice is necessary to begin with.

Invariably, the answer points us to the gospel and to why the church exists in the first place – to proclaim to an imperfect world that perfect justice is found only in the One upon whom the church itself is founded and sustained – Jesus Christ.

Humbly in Christ,

Darrell

Related:
10 Things the Media Won’t Tell You About Black Millennials – The Root
“Black Millennials” and the Black Church – The Front Porch
Why So Many Millennials Are Socialists – The Cato Institute
Why Black Churches Are Keeping Millennials – Christianity Today