Last week Pastor Sam from our 43rd Street Campus introduced us to the new series entitled FEVER PITCH. We saw this series has a different feel to it because it features a video round table discussion preceding the live teaching that deals with cultural “hot topic” issues that have reached a fever pitch. The social temperature of our culture has escalated to a boiling point regarding social and cultural issues. It has risen to the point where it almost feels like we cannot talk in a rational, calm, or sensible manner about these controversial issues without our conversations becoming a yelling match between two opposing parties. This even rings true in the Church today. Yet, Jesus has called his church to be different from the world, he calls us to be salt and light in this bitter and dark world. Thus, the Church needs to get its act together and become unified under the umbrella of Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, Christianity and the evangelical church at large, (we are evangelical, so I can only speak to the evangelical church) has not done a great job of being salt and light. Instead, we are often viewed by the world as bigoted, narrow-minded, and unloving. We are more and more becoming known for our negative political and cultural views instead of the words of Jesus in John 13:34 - 35, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
It is time to de-escalate the conversation… We can and should engage our culture regardless of the sensitivity of the issues at hand. We do not need to avoid hot-button issues with friends or unbelievers, but we do need to know how to talk about these in healthy and Christ-honoring ways.
My goal for this whole series is not so much to give my opinion on the topic at hand, but more to point to scripture passages that generally speak to or deal with the issue. With that in mind let’s look watch today’s round table discussion.
Video (Advance to next Slide when Pastor Sam is thanking Davon and Bresch and says, “We will talk more about this more…”)
We have just viewed a video roundtable with three individuals with three different histories and life experiences. All three shared one commonality and that is all three are children of God and followers of Jesus, regardless of the color of their skin or cultural background. We have seen and heard only the tip of the iceberg their stories and experiences in growing up and living in both racially diverse and hostile environments. Unfortunately, as Pastor Sam alluded in the video, that even though slavery ended has ended, in general racism has not. Racism may not be as prevalent as it was 150 years ago, but it does still rear its ugly head in modern society and even in the church today.
What does the Bible Say About Race and Racism?
So, what does the Bible say about the topic of racism? Interestingly it does not address the more modern black and white issues of racism, but it does speak very directly about human beings, culture, ethnicity, and God’s great love for his creation regardless of race, ethnicity, and nationality.
The Gospel Connection
I mentioned at the beginning of the message that believers are called to live differently and to be separate from the world, thus I believe the Church should be the one place that does not tolerate racism in any form or fashion. Our God is a God of diversity. He is not just the God for America or Israel, He is the God and creator of all nations, people groups, and languages. Let us not forget Jesus was not a white suburban U.S. citizen. He was an Israelite, brought up in Jewish tradition and culture. Since he was of middle eastern descent, He very well could have had a darker complexion. He more than likely was not the blond-haired blue-eyed Jesus we may envision because this is the only Jesus, we have seen growing up. He lived a life that shook his community and the Jewish faith to the core. He was unconventional as touched unclean lepers, He associated with sinful people, He treated women, outcasts, and the culturally diverse with respect and dignity. He died for both Jew and Gentile so they could have life. He promoted loving others as we love ourselves. He did unify all believers under one umbrella, declaring us all children of God. We can and should talk about and celebrate our cultural diversities, but at the end of the day, we need to celebrate our savior, who gave life to all regardless of skin color, culture, and language. So, may we respond individually to those who may have different skin color or have another cultural background by loving others as Jesus loved us, treating others with respect and dignity, and seeing them as people created in God’s image for HIS glory.
 Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 106). New York: United Bible Societies.
 Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 129). New York: United Bible Societies.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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