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in Race

Potholes On The Road To Racial Reconciliation

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By: Elisha Lawrence

Acts 14:22 — It is necessary to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.


Paul told this to the believers in the towns where he just planted churches. These are the towns that Paul and Barnabas were run out of by jealous and angry Jews. In one of those towns, Paul was stoned and dragged out of the city but somehow lived through it.


Who wants to sign up to be a Christian?


Paul and Barnabas kept on going to place after place even though they met with opposition everywhere they went. The only reason they would do this is that Jesus is worth it.

Following the Lord will mean opposition. You might not get stoned by anyone and dragged out of a city, but hardships and misunderstandings are inevitable.

When I think about what’s happening in our world and the Church, I wonder what this means for us.

Where would we meet opposition?

Where is it that we’ll run into hatred and jealousy?


It’s interesting to note who was the source of the hostility toward the Christians. It was the Jews.

Jews were persecuting Jews. Jews were driving out and trying to kill other Jews. It didn’t start with the pagan Romans, although that would come later. It started with their own religious countrymen.


Now I’m not sure where opposition for City Church will come from. Indeed, the culture around us seems to be growing more intolerant of Christianity. There is a general disdain for the exclusivist truth claims of Christians and some want to silence Christian rhetoric altogether.


That’s a real danger.

But a conversation I had a few weeks ago alerted me to a possible source of suffering that I would not have anticipated.


I was sitting with a group of college students in Nashville at Watson Grove Baptist Church with their wonderful Senior Pastor John Faison. Pastor Faison welcomed us in for a few hours to discuss the roots of racism in America, particularly in Nashville. Pastor Faison is an intelligent, informed, and bold man. I feel privileged to have met him and learned from him. He's a Black pastor in a predominantly African American church. And he said something I hadn’t anticipated hearing. I’ll paraphrase here:


“If you are going to truly stand for justice, you may lose friends. You may get ostracized, but work with the Spirit regardless of where it leads.”


Pastor Faison wasn’t just speaking from historical study, he was speaking from personal experience. And he was echoing the words that Paul said to those young Christians in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch.


Acts 14:22 — It is necessary to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.

The kingdom that God wants to bring on earth is often opposed. What's surprising, however, is that is that it is often opposed from within.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The greatest tragedy in life is not the deeds of evil men; the greatest tragedy is the silence of good ones!”


He is celebrated now as a Civil Rights hero, but in his day, he was greatly opposed by many Christians. We’d do well to expect a similar reception at points if we’re honestly going to move towards the type of diversity that the gospel encourages us to.


What my brother Pastor Faison was saying is that real diversity requires sacrifices that most people are not willing to make.


We may read that Christ came to die for people of “every tribe, tongue, and nation.” But are we willing to attend a school where our children might be the minority?


We may say amen to the “breaking down of the dividing wall of hostility” between different races, but are we willing to live in a neighborhood where we are a minority?


We may say we want diversity, but are we willing to listen to minorities to hear their experiences of injustice without lashing out in defensiveness or labeling it as political speech?


These are not easy questions for us. They aren’t easy questions for me. Yet they are necessary questions we need to be asking.

I am a white male. I don’t know the experience of a black male or a Hispanic female. Racism and racialization are massive issues in our country. I wouldn’t have said that just three years ago. At that point, all I noticed was the segregation on Sunday mornings. I thought having a diverse church service would solve the problem.


But the more I talk with minority brothers and sisters in Christ, the more I read about the history of our nation, the more I am painfully aware how short-sighted and ill-informed I was before the last three years.


City Church, I exhort you to learn, read, and be humble enough to admit where you have been wrong. To get where I believe God wants us to go with diversity and racial justice is going to take endurance, trust, and love for one another. It’s not going to be easy. We may even lose some friendships or be characterized as troublemakers.

Remember this:
Acts 14:22 — It is necessary to go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.


Reading Suggestions
Divided by Faith: Christian Smith, Michael Emerson
The Color of Law: Richard Rothstein
Removing the Stain of Racism from the SBC: Kevin Jones

in Prayer

We Struggle To Pray Because It Feels Like A Waste Of Time

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By: Chris Martin

One of the authors I coach has a book coming out in September, and we are in the process of ramping up some strategy in anticipation of the book launch. As much as I love serving authors as they serve their readers, the fact is that success is often measured by numbers more than it is measured by how much everyone feels helped.

I can serve authors so well they promise never to publish with another company, but when it comes down to it, blog stats and other metrics matter. How much everyone likes each other doesn’t necessarily measure success.

This is difficult for me.

I am most comfortable when success is measured by how well people are served rather than by how many people are served. In short, I focus on quality over quantity almost to a fault—because metrics and stats do matter, especially when you’re running a business.

Good feelings don’t pay salaries and bills, unfortunately.

Because of this battle with metrics and measures, prayer can feel like a burden. This is a problem.

Why Does Prayer Feel Like a Waste of Time?

Prayer feels like a lack of action, sometimes.

When I am forming strategies and planning meetings to help with a book launch, I think to stop and pray, but it feels like a burden.

Why?

Praying feels like a burden when you’re trying to accomplish a task, like meeting a sales number or a certain number of page views, because praying for God to help meet those needs feels petty and self-centered.

I sometimes think, “Why should I stop to pray for God to help with this project instead of doing more to help the project myself?”

Somehow, in my sin, I think that God doesn’t have any interest in helping with this project.

He has too many sick people to heal and travels upon which he must show mercy—he doesn’t have time for my work project.

This is a lie that weasels itself into my head, and yours too, at times, I’m sure.

The work we do on a daily basis, whether at a construction site or in a cubicle, matters to God. Our work is not divorced from his will and how he is to bring about his plans.

We miss out on engaging with the God of the universe because we think our plans and projects aren’t important enough for his attention, or because we busy ourselves to the point of sinful God-neglect.

Three Simple Prayers to Pray for Your Work

We need to stop and pray for our work. Don’t know how or what to pray? Here’s a start:

1. Give me wisdom.

In the spring of my freshman year of college, I was reading about Solomon and how the Lord answered his prayers for wisdom. I said, “If Solomon did this and the Lord listened, maybe he’ll listen to me,” and he did. God grants wisdom when you ask for it. Ask the Lord for understanding, and trust the Lord to give it to you.

2. Keep me humble.

Humility is incredibly difficult to maintain for anyone, but it becomes even more difficult when the Lord answers your prayers for wisdom. When the Lord gives you wisdom, you will be tempted to glory in yourself rather than God. Resist this temptation, and pray that the Lord would remind you of who you are in light of who he is.

3. Make me grateful.

Praise God for all he has done for you, and ask him to keep your heart thankful, protecting it from becoming entitled. You didn’t earn anything you have. The only way you can enjoy the blessings of wisdom, humility, health, or other such blessings is because of the grace God has shown you in Christ. So, as you pray, praise God for what he has done, and ask him to remind you to praise him when you’re tempted to praise yourself.

Posted by Chris Martin with

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