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Tuesday Thoughts 8-15-17

I think it was in my Junior High years when a TV commercial came out showing a group of kids deciding to leave a can of deodorant in someone’s locker, hoping they would get the hint that they stink.  Beating around the bush…we’re naturals at it. That’s because we’re afraid that the unvarnished truth will make us look bad – self preservation.  But today is not a day to beat around the bush.  We don’t need gently worded encouragements to do the right things.  Carefully thought out and presented steps to improvement are not effective.  Thought-provoking word pictures become pointless cartoons.  These veiled attempts at transformation are what make us look bad today. What we need is truth.  Here’s the truth: there is no room for racism to prosper in anyone truly connected with Almighty God through the blood of Jesus Christ! That the name of our Savior has been associated with the perspectives of demonstrators and the related violence in Charlottesville, Virgina is despicable.  The creation of all peoples, by our loving God, carries with it His love for ALL.  The price paid by Jesus –His life, His blood– was given so that ALL (For God so loved the World!) would have the means and opportunity to reconnect with God.  The final Word on the only legitimate racial divide in the Bible, was penned to the church at Ephesus by Paul, the Jesus-follower: For Christ himself has made peace between us Jews and you Gentiles by making us all one people. He has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us. By his death he ended the whole system of Jewish law that excluded the Gentiles. His purpose was to make peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new person from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He has brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and to us Jews who were near. Now all of us, both Jews and Gentiles, may come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” Ephesians 2:14-18 (New Living Translation).  There once was the “people who heard from God” (Jews) and the “people who didn’t hear from God” (Gentiles) But now (since Jesus) we are one people, hostility is ended, we are at peace, that is, we ALL can hear from God!  Any other viewpoint is outside of the character of God.  For some of you, there is an obvious difference between His perspective and yours.  There’s nowhere else to start than surrender.  As difficult as it seems to do, the rewards are over the top.  Ask for God’s help right now!  For those who do not see any need for adjustment, a reality check.  You most likely have issues of racism to wrestle with.  Don’t get upset, just keep reading.  Any negative “ism” (definition: a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement) comes first from self-ism.  It is our curse as people who born in rebellion against God.  We are the most important person in the world to us.  It is a natural progression that we gather with people who are like us (interests, salary level, etc…), and they become the group of people who are the most important to us.  If someone (or group) is more important, than there are others who are less important—the birthplace of racism (when race is the likeness).  When we surrender our self-ism to God through Jesus, there are remnants to work out, and the Holy Spirit is faithful to keep that work up.  I saw these principles at work in my own life during the three years we spent in Flint, Michigan.  I was raised to be against racism, always considered myself to be balanced and loving to all.  But in my first few days in that new community marked by a great divide with accompanying hatred and violence, I came face-to-face (and I mean a neighbor in my face) with the issue of racism.  It was one of the toughest few days of my ministry life.  I realized I was in need of a deep examination by the Spirit, and an ongoing surrender and openness to learn, grow and love.  It is this commitment of Jesus-followers to actually following His heart that each of us need to make.  This is not about history, statues, flags, and institutional systems (though each has a place in the overall discussion).  This is about me and about you coming into the perspective of the Creator of all.  Will you make that commitment?  Will you share that commitment? Don’t hide behind a can of deodorant…speak the truth!

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