...any assumption which puts a person into a different category than I place myself, and that category somehow makes them more worthy of suffering or less worthy of dignity than myself, I am not merely being sinful, I am being anti-Christ.
From Richard Roberts:
I read a tweet by Herschel York this week, whom I do not know, but it was a tweet to which I immediately related as a pastor and public preacher. He said,
“Every time I feel led to tweet, post, or preach anything about racism, I have to mentally and spiritually prepare myself for the pushback, “yeah, buts,” and smug replies I get. Folks, this shouldn’t even be controversial among the people of God.”
In like fashion Mark Dever also posted,
“Something I’ve noticed about my posts – some of you seem to appreciate them, except when you seem surprised or offended when I post something about racism. But racism is blasphemy against the Creator, violating the commands both to love neighbor, and to love God!”
I, too, feel the conflict and trepidation that York notes, knowing that when I post a clear Scriptural principle about the evils of excluding and distinguishing persons based upon the color of their skin, I know that I will get some, “yeah, buts” along with some kind of red herring justification of why such a principle shouldn’t apply in every situation.
But, here’s the thing: any assumption which puts a person into a different category than I place myself, and that category somehow makes them more worthy of suffering or less worthy of dignity than myself, I am not merely being sinful, I am being anti-Christ.
I say this because of what the Spirit teaches us in Ephesians 2:11-16, that it is only the grace of God which brings us near to God as accepted and as friends. Nothing else. Not my ability to obey any laws, not my ability to succeed in this world, and surely not any inherent nature in me or any experience within my history.
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands-- remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. (Eph. 2:11-16)
The apostle is very clear that Christ came to abolish the distinctions of value that we have placed upon our own moral success and our own genetic profiles. Literally, He “made one new humanity” out of those who were distinguished by race and by law by being the only means of our reconciliation with God morally and spiritually. Nothing else gives us any superiority.
In fact, the gospel of the Cross, that Jesus had to die for Jews and Gentiles, slave and free, male and female, rich and poor, all equally and by the same manner, shows us that any sense of superiority or inferiority is essentially dismissive of Him, and therefore of God.
That’s not a little thing! It is not a little thing to dismiss Jesus and His Cross! It’s not a little thing to work against His purposes, and that is exactly what such superiority and inferiority do.
Therefore, all racism and classism must be abolished from the Church. It must be silenced by the Cross and not justified or excused because of some broken law or some sin on the “other side.” Such things simply do not excuse such dismissing of the Gospel of grace.
All disdain. All stereotypical comments, i.e. “those people”. All feelings of superiority and inferiority are to be expelled, condemned, and judged as anti-Christ. We cannot allow distinctions of worth to be set upon individuals or families based upon anything other than Jesus’ shed blood and righteousness: not money, now law-abiding, not possessions, not history, not language, NOTHING.
Look at the text. The issue is law-keeping, isn’t it? What are the implications of this? We who know the gospel of Jesus Christ, of the grace of God appearing, of His mercy towards sinners who were, by nature, children of wrath, separated from God, know the implications. People are not worthwhile because they observe the law. They are worthwhile because they are made in the image of God and He loves them. The Son of God was sent for sinners, to seek them, and to save them. We do not, therefore, make separations between “them” and “us” on the basis of any law, but only on the basis of Christ.
Does this mean there is no place for corrective discipline? Of course not! Does it mean that we are silent when we see sin? NO! But we speak correction because we know that sin harms the sinner and diminishes Christ. In the church, we discipline according to the standard of the law of Christ Jesus. It is for the sake of the sinner that we speak, not simply to judge him as though he were inferior to us.
So, let us look upon the “other” through the person and work of Jesus! He reconciles both to God! And this is through the cross.
The Church, the New Humanity, is completely a creative act of God! In fact, Paul uses the word “create” here (v15) in evoke the creative act of God (Genesis 14:19) who made Heaven and Earth. This is HIS work. John Murry says, “While our death is our fate, his death is his deed.”
And one doing of His death is the ‘killing of the hostility’ between races. The cross creates a new community by eliminating the causes of contentions between otherwise distinct enemies, because the only basis that we have for our standing before God and before each other is the blood of Jesus Christ for us all equally. The Church is the foremost act of God “bringing all things together under Him.” We ought to be exemplifying reconciliation and sympathetic understanding of our desperation and need, not our distinctions and delinquencies.
Note that Paul tells us that both, the law-keepers and the law-breakers, the religious and the irreligious, every race and culture, needed the preaching of peace. Regardless of our knowledge or ignorance, our experience or inexperience, our honor or shame, we were all enemies of God who needed peace to be proclaimed from God to us.
And this is the Good News, right? That we can approach the Father through the Spirit of Christ alone, on the basis of Christ alone, with equal access and impartial access to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace in our time of need, whatever our peril may be.
Thus, if you can categorize yourself like the Scripture does: sinners in need of grace, period, then this gospel is good news. It is good news for failures, for law-breakers, for the law-keepers, for the religious and the irreligious, for the African, the European, the Asian, the American, the man, the woman, the child, the beautiful, the deformed, the poor, the rich…but always to the humble.
REMEMBER who you were! You were once separated from God and without hope in the world. RELATE to others as one who is saved by grace and brought near to God only through the blood of Jesus and nothing else! REJOICE in Jesus for that grace at His own expense! RETURN your worship and your joy to the Lord for His wonderful and amazing gift of grace towards sinners like you!