Racism: Part 3, 26 June 2022

Series Big Idea: Racism is a thoroughly biblical subject which continues to plague our world.
Big Idea: Racism is sin which requires repentance and lament.
I have some good news and some bad news. First, the good news. Although First Alliance is an imperfect church led by imperfect people under the authority of a perfect LORD and Savior, our topic of racism today is not a reaction to things I have seen and heard around here. Rather, I’ve been thrilled to not only watch this congregation diversify, many of various backgrounds and ethnicities have told me they feel loved, respected, and accepted here. Praise God! I love what God is doing here!
The bad news, as you might expect, is racism is not dead. Pastor Derwin Gray is often asked why he talks about race frequently. He replies, “Because the Bible does.” He writes in his book
How to Heal Our Racial Divide, “Racial reconciliation in Christ is not peripheral to the gospel, an optional ‘nice to have’ or a fad issue, but central to Christ’s mission and God’s plan.” I wholeheartedly agree.
When most people today in our nation think of racism, they think of black versus white, slavery generations ago, George Floyd, and maybe the names of those who died because of the color of their skin. But the Bible shows us throughout its 66 books people have been prejudice from nearly its first pages. Our enemy knows how to divide and conquer. Jesus himself said,
“Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. (Luke 11:17b)
We see this virtually every day in our political system, to say nothing of the other things that cause people to
cancel one another. Perhaps the most glaring biblical example of division is the distinction between Jew and Gentile, something we hardly think about, but it was every bit as daunting—if not more co—than any ethnic conflicts in our nation’s history. Yet Paul wrote to the church in Galatia,
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. (Galatians 3:26-29)
Pastor Donald is a tough act to follow! He asked me to give this message, part three of a series he began last fall and continued last Sunday. While I have no stories of being the victim of ethnic prejudice, I feel qualified to challenge us to view every person as a masterpiece created in the image of God with dignity, value, and worth. The first chapter in the Bible makes this clear.
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26, NLT)
We already saw…
There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
But consider these words of Paul to another church:
But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites. (Colossians 3:25)
Dr. N.T. Wright notes,
“The theology and praxis of a church united across the traditional boundaries of ethnic, class, and gender distinctions was never for Paul a secondary matter; it was at the very heart. Otherwise, one would in effect be saying that the Messiah did not after all defeat (through his death) the powers of darkness that divide and corrupt the human race.”
Peter had the same message:
Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. (Acts 10:34)
The book of Romans says,
For God does not show favoritism. (Romans 2:11)
Back in the Old Testament Moses declares,
For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. (Deuteronomy 10:17)
I could go on and on with examples. The Bible paints a beautiful picture of a new community, a multi-ethnic family formed around King Jesus.
My guess is most—hopefully all—of you believe “we are all one in Christ Jesus” as Paul said. You reject the satanic belief that one’s skin color makes them superior or inferior to another. To all of my lighter hue brothers and sisters, I hope you’ve discovered racism didn’t end with Abraham Lincoln or Juneteenth or the election of President Obama or George Floyd. None of my African-American friends want to go back in history. Progress has been made. But there’s much work to do in the arena of reconciliation among all peoples and ethnicities. We’re all members of one race, the human race.
Pew Research Center data shows a full three-quarters of Black Americans say opposing racism is essential to their faith or sense of morality. My guess—and hope—is you all recognize the evil of racism…and probably wonder what to do about it. What can I possibly do about “those racists?”
I’m so glad you asked! Regardless of your skin color or background, I want to offer several next steps that I believe will help us become part of the solution rather than part of the problem. We’re not going to eliminate racism in our nation this week, but there are proactive things we can all do. I’m borrowing this outline from Derwin Gray’s book mentioned earlier, How to Heal Our Racial Divide. Derwin is a pastor in Carolina who worked on his Doctorate at Northern Seminary the same time I did (in a different cohort).

1.    Trust the supremacy of Christ
We’ve heard a lot about white supremacy in the news. Dr. Martin Luther King once said,
“[W]e must never substitute a doctrine of black supremacy for white supremacy. For the doctrine of black supremacy is as dangerous as white supremacy. God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men but God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race, the creation of a society where all. Men will live together as brothers.”
King Jesus is supreme. He is the greatest. He is above all. Jesus is LORD! Satan loves to tempt each of us into pride, seeing ourselves somehow better than another, whether it’s our skin color, education, wealth, appearance, or abilities.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
It doesn’t say anything about Jews or Gentiles, black or white or brown. This is love. This is what Christians do. This is who we are. Why? It’s who Jesus is, and following Jesus means loving like Jesus loved. When we say Jesus is LORD, we mean He is our Master. He’s the boss. We trust and obey, not matter the cost.
Following Jesus is not the American dream. You have no rights. It’s not your body. We are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. It’s not your wealth. Everything we have belongs to God. It’s not about you and your comfort and your convenience or even your safety. It’s all about Jesus! Jesus is LORD!
One of the most disturbing books I’ve read is
The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby. The subtitle is The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism. It’s a thoroughly researched book about the evil acts of so-called Christians.
Jesus is LORD! Not whites. Not blacks. Not browns. Not Republicans. Not Democrats. Not Independents. Not Americans. Not Buckeyes. Not even Wolverines!
Jesus is LORD, and every person you meet this week is a masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) created in the image of God with dignity, value, and worth.

2.    Engage in Difficult Conversations
First, engage in conversations. Someone said once you’ve heard someone’s story, they can never be your enemy. I desperately want to hear Putin’s story!
But seriously, empathy is formed when we listen. Last month I was on jury duty on a case that ended up in the conviction of a woman for murder, animal cruelty, and arson. As I watched this woman during three days of testimony, I couldn’t help but think years ago I would’ve judged her for her evil acts. Technically, I did judge her along with my jury mates, but as we were seeking justice, I began to imagine the life she has lived, her childhood, her friends, the circumstances that led to her abominable actions. It would not excuse her behavior, but it would surely help explain it.
Similarly, we need to listen to others…people of other ethnicities, other faiths, other political perspectives, and other generations. We can learn so much by seeking to understand rather than only trying to be understood.
Last year, Bishop Culp from First Church of God down the street invited me and several other black and white pastors to read The Color of Compromise together. We’ve been meeting consistently and my favorite part of the experience has been hearing the stories of my brothers of a darker hue. We are related by blood—the blood of Jesus—yet they’ve had countless experiences I can only imagine as a person in the majority culture. As we’ve begun to discuss how we collectively can attack racism, it has led to some clearly different viewpoints, yet we’ve learned to trust and love one another after dozens of conversations.
One thing that makes these conversations difficult is language. Do I call you black or African-American? What do you mean by racism? What about our Hispanic brothers and sisters? And Asians? Should we say Black Lives Matter when the organization was started with non-biblical principles…or do you mean the message of the slogan, not the organization? Am I really white, or some shade of peach? Why can blacks use the N-word but nobody else? Is that word ever appropriate? Why do most rappers cuss in all of their songs? Should I feel bad for being born in the majority culture? What can I do to make this world a better place?
Relationships move at the speed of trust. Love is spelled t-i-m-e. I encourage you to get to know someone different from you, listen, learn, and extend grace when you have awkward or difficult moments. We don’t know what we don’t know and we all need help understanding one another. We are family. Family can be messy, but it can also be so good!

3.    Collectively Mourn Injustice
Most Christians I know like happy songs, happy sermons, happy, happy, happy. To be honest, I’m a pretty optimistic person, but although we are told to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), it doesn’t mean we never pause to mourn, to lament, to acknowledge the injustice and seek ways to change ourselves, our culture, our world. I’ve been involved in powerful moments of recognizing injustice, times of confession and repentance, reconciliation exercises, and sessions of sorrow and grief. I’ve done it around the unborn. I’ve done it around issues of racism. It’s not fun, but it can be powerful. The Psalms are filled with lament.

4.    Display Gospel Character
Moments ago, I used the word “grace.” It means unmerited favor. It’s undeserved. We all seek God’s amazing grace, and we need to be generous in extending it to others. This is where we need to look at the culture and do the exact opposite. We don’t hate. We don’t cancel. We don’t hold a grudge. We don’t gossip or tell inappropriate jokes or pre-judge people, not matter what we see on the surface. We love. That’s the Jesus way.

5.    Affirm the Reconciler’s Creed
Derwin Gray created this five-part creed:
1. Worship: We will relentlessly worship God by loving our brothers and sisters of different ethnicities in Christ (Matthew 22:37-40). According to Jesus, loving God and loving others are the greatest commandments, and they go together.
2. Justification: We will relentlessly see our brothers and sisters of other ethnicities as the righteousness of God in Christ (Romans 3:22). We are all covered in the same justifying blood.
3. Holiness: We will relentlessly ask God the Holy Spirit to purge us of any prejudices that we have in our hearts (Romans 8:28-29; Galatians 4:19). Honest self-examination is vital to healing and maturity.
4. Unity: We will relentlessly pursue and live in the unity Jesus secured through the bloody cross (Ephesians 2:14-16). We do not work for unity; we live from unity in Christ.
5. Guard: We will relentlessly guard our unity in Christ (Ephesians 4:1-6). Our unity in Christ is, gift and treasure that must be guarded. Demonic powers and those under the power of the evil one want to divide God's people. Our unity displays the beauty of our risen Redeemer; our disunity is a poor witness.
Listen to these beautiful words from Paul to the church in Corinth:
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21, NLT)
One thing I’ve heard people say is they are colorblind. We need to see color. Derwin Gray calls it being color blessed! We need to see our differences…and celebrate them, learn from them, use them as opportunities to grow, to listen, to demonstrate patience and humility. Our differences are not an accident. As one of our core values states,

We are a mosaic of people loving God and doing life together.
I love it!

“Diversity is inviting people to the party, inclusion is asking them to dance” – Verna Myers

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
Blessed King of the universe,
in your eternal Son, Messiah Jesus,
the King of kings,
the one who is grace upon grace and
who created a new race, made of all of the human race,
through his life, death, and resurrection—
in his name, by the Holy Spirit's power,
we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, dwelling places of God
King Jesus, we affirm that you purchased a richly diverse
people for your Father,
a people declared righteous by your blood,
a people who are one, yet many.
Your blood binds us to you and to each other as
a beautiful mosaic.
We worship you by loving one another.
We are the family of the redeemed.
We belong to the King.
We pledge our allegiance to King Jesus, the Lamb of God
who sits on the throne.
May we live from and guard the unity Jesus secured on
the cross.
As we grow in holiness, Spirit, empower us to reflect Jesus
more and more.
Way the world see we love Jesus by the way we love each other.
May we treasure our brothers and sisters more than we treasure economic interests, political affiliations, fears, or cultural customs.
In your name, King Jesus, we pray.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

The Racial Divide, 18 October 2020

The Racial Divide (One Race: Human)
Series—The Great Divide

Series Big Idea: Our world is filled with division, yet Jesus prayed that we would be one.

Big Idea: Man looks at outward appearances, but God looks at the heart.

Last week we began our series, The Great Divide, with a topic free from any controversy or disagreement…politics! It’s amazing you all came back after that! If you missed it, the bottom line was our focus must not be on a donkey or elephant, but the Lion and the Lamb. There are flaws in every candidate and party. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus. Always. Especially during this crazy election season. I have appreciated individuals and organizations seeking to call out the anti-Christian views of candidates and parties, yet even if the imperfections of our alternatives were completely exposed and fixed, no politician can ever approach the wisdom, the power, the justice, the love of King Jesus!

Today we’re going to tackle a subject that many have connected with politics…race. Our authority, as always, is not me, not even The Christian & Missionary Alliance, but Jesus and the Holy Scriptures. God told Samuel the prophet,

People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b).

I want to make a few disclaimers up front. First, we’re not going to solve the racial issues in our community—much less our nation or world—in thirty minutes. As I did last week, I’ll offer some resources for you to consider, but the views expressed in them do not necessarily represent me or First Alliance Church. They are offered for your consideration, education, and contemplation. Only the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ is flawless. I’m not perfect. My theology is not perfect. I often quote Dr. Leonard Sweet who said, “20% of my theology is wrong. I just don’t know what 20%!”

Second—and this may come as a surprise to you—I’m white! I don’t know what it’s like to be a minority in this country, though I have been in the minority in Africa. I am seeking empathy, and I want to leverage whatever influence I have for the benefit of others. We’re told,

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:8-9)

Third, this series is about understanding, about building bridges, about listening and loving well. After all,
there is only one race…the human race.

In Jesus’ day, the tension between Jew and Gentile was arguably far worse than any black and white divisions we’ve experienced in this country. Yet Paul wrote,

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

We are one in Christ Jesus! All of us! Black, brown, and white. Men, women, and children. Homeless and homeowner. PhD and GED. We are all part of the human race. We are all sons and daughters of the Most High God. Paul told the church in Corinth,

For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Fourth, let me say again this is
not a sermon on politics. One prominent pastor said whenever he preaches on race, people accuse him of being a progressive. This is not about being liberal or conservative. It’s about being human. Black lives do matter—all of them, including the unborn black lives. It frustrates me that such a positive statement has been co-opted by an organization of the same name with anti-Christian values. Once again, the enemy is desperately trying to steal, kill, destroy, and divide.

(OK, are you ready?!)

The issue of race is relevant, not simply because it’s in the news, but because it affects family. Our family.

We are all created with equal value, but we are not all
treated with equal value.

This cannot be overstated, though those in the majority culture are often unaware of the significance of such a statement. We are a family. We are a diverse family. We are all different parts of the body, the body of Christ. Paul said,

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Corinthians 12:26)

If we can’t love one another well—within the family—there’s little hope for us loving our neighbors, much less our enemies as Jesus clearly instructed us to do…through the power of the Holy Spirit (it’s impossible without God).

We have family members who are suffering…every time racism rears its ugly head, which is more than I understand as some who has never been pulled over for DWB (driving while black), stalked in a store, or been called the n-word. I can’t begin to count how many stories I’ve heard from my brothers and sisters regarding discrimination and hatred over their ethnicity. One was followed for 45 minutes by a police officer while jogging in their own neighborhood. This past week I was talking to a friend who said they were asked to sit in a different section of their church sanctuary because of their ethnicity.

We are family! We are all related by blood…the blood of Jesus. We were all created in the image of God with dignity, value, and worth. By the way, I seriously doubt Adam and Eve were white! I’m quite sure Jesus didn’t have blond hair and blue eyes! Every life is precious…white, brown, black, …in the womb, refugee, immigrant, orphan, rich, poor,…all masterpieces!

We are all created with equal value, but we are not all treated with equal value.

I was once having lunch with my mom. She was concerned about changes in our culture and I asked her, “Do you wish we could go back to the 1950s?”

(I wasn’t even an idea in the 1950’s!)

She exclaimed, “Oh yes!”

I said, “I don’t have a single African-American friend who wishes we could go back to the 1950’s!”

I believe things have improved through things such as the civil rights movement, but clearly we are far from realizing Dr. King’s dream of people being judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. Our world—and even the Church—is filled with favoritism, a practice condemned repeatedly in scripture (see 1 Timothy 5:21, James 2:1-8, Romans 2:11, Acts 10:34, etc.).

Today I want you to hear three short videos from
Phil Vischer. He’s the creator of Veggie Tales, a life-long Christian & Missionary “Alliancer,” and the co-host of the Holy Post podcast. Again, I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, but he has done extensive research on what’s behind some of the racial issues in our day. I highly recommend his video Race in America. He had a follow-up video which I’ve been given permission to share clips from today, and he most recently made a fascinating video entitled, “Why do White Christians Vote Republican, and Black Christians Vote Democrat?”

But I said today is not about politics…and it’s not. It’s about people. It’s about family. It’s about us. When I say us, I mean us. This raises what is perhaps the biggest objection I’ve received whenever we talk about racism…

[Video: Phil Vischer, excerpt from "Race in America, Part 2"]

We must recognize both individual and
societal sins…and repent.

It’s important to remember,

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)

We have all pre-judged others for one reason or another (it’s called prejudice). We are all guilty of disrespecting image-bearers. We all fail to live up to the example of Jesus—a Jew—who prayed for the very enemies—Roman soldiers—who were nailing him to a cross. Each of us misses the mark when it comes to loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. I must admit I often stop at verse 23, but there’s a comma, not a period. It continues,

and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24)

The New Living Translation says it a little smoother:

Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (Romans 3:24, NLT)


Jesus died for all of us! “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.” I know the lyrics might not be politically correct, but the message is biblically correct.

So What?

I’ve certainly struggled with what I can do about this issue which seems so—uh—black and white. There is no place for hatred or favoritism or injustice in the Kingdom of God.

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, (Romans 10:12)

We’re going to spend eternity together with the LORD. The scene in Revelation is fantastic!

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9)

We’re not going to have black churches in heaven.
We’re not going to have white churches in heaven.
I don’t think we’re even going to have English or Spanish or Mandarin churches in heaven.

The Kingdom of God is diverse. It’s the beautiful mosaic we mentioned last week.

So what do we do now? Here’s Phil again:

[Video: Phil Vischer, excerpt from "Race in America, Part 2"]

Did you find that interesting? Racism is but one of many sins in our world. We can’t fix it overnight. But we can do something. Like the child throwing washed-up starfish from the beach back into the ocean, we can help one person. We can show kindness to someone who looks different than us. We can offer generosity to the “other.” We can smile or share a kind word. In a word, we can love! I am continually challenged by two verses in the book of Philippians:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

How could applying those verses impact our church, our city, our nation, our world? This might be the most radical scripture in the Bible, at least according to our selfish, prideful, narcissistic, consumeristic culture that has influenced each of us. Jesus’ friend John said,

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:19-21)

We must love well, and
loving mean listening.

We said it last week…

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20)

I appreciate you listening to me today, hopefully with an open mind and heart. Listen to understand, not to argue. People of my hue are so defensive about racial issues. Instead of hearing the experiences of others, they’re too busy trying to prove their own innocence, which is an adventure in missing the point.

If your neighbor’s house is on fire and you didn’t do it, do you feel like you should do anything? Get the kids out of the house! Again, we are family, and we need to listen and understand the struggles and sorrows of our spiritual siblings.

My favorite singer as a boy, Andrae Crouch, sang, “Jesus is the answer/for the world today/above Him there’s no other/Jesus is the way.” Jesus is the answer to all of the world’s problems. If we all loved and obeyed Jesus, …I can hardly imagine it!

is the answer. Check this out!

[Video: Phil Vischer, excerpt from "Race in America, Part 2"]

Family, let’s love well. Love is not how you feel, but how you act. Racism is not your fault, but you could be part of the solution. Let’s look out for one another. Let’s listen to one another. Let’s refuse to stereotype, pre-judge, or make assumptions about others. Let’s get to know one another. We’ll be stretched. We’ll be challenged. We’ll grow…and I believe the world will take notice. Remember, Jesus said,

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

Phil Vischer videos

Race in America
Race in America, Part 2
Why do White Christians Vote Republican, and Black Christians Vote Democrat?

Recommended Books

- Dream with Me by John Perkins
Be the Bridge by Latasha Morrison
- White Awake by Daniel Hill
- Rediscipling the White Church by David Swanson

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Racism & Injustice, 7 June 2020

Racism and Injustice
Series—What in the World is Going On?
Featuring special guest Pastor Donald Smith

Big Idea:
Sin is ugly and evil in all of its forms—blatant and subtle—and the antidote is love.

What in the world is going on?
If you’re like me, you’ve asked that question a lot lately.

The deadly coronavirus is one thing. The lockdowns and ensuring chaos have been—at least for many—even worse.

The senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are one thing. The ensuring protests and violence are—at least for many—even worse.

What in the world is going on? Are these the last days? Is Jesus coming back soon? If so, what difference does it make?

Our world is a mess. But this is actually not a new thing. Read the Bible! Ever since Adam and Eve ate the fruit in the Garden, we’ve all been involved in the deadliest force in the universe…sin.

Sin is ugly and evil in all of its forms—blatant and subtle—and the antidote is love.

we are engaged in a war! We’re in the middle of a battle! It’s easy to forget that sometimes in our air-conditioned cars and houses with our flat-screen TVs, and La-Z-Boy recliners. We enjoy prosperity and freedoms in this country others on our planet can’t even imagine.

Sin is ugly and evil in all of its forms—blatant and subtle—and the antidote is love.

We’ve seen blatant sin in full-color. We watched a man murdered. We witnessed violence toward police, civilians, whites, and blacks. We’ve seen buildings burned, businesses looted, …and there are a hundred different narratives to describe these disturbing events.

Tragically, it’s nothing new. Racism isn’t new. Pandemics aren’t new. Hatred and violence aren’t new. They’re simply signs of our enemy, satan.

Paul wrote these famous words to the church in the city of Ephesus in what is modern-day Turkey:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10-12)

The enemy loves to steal, kill, and destroy. Sin leads to death, and it’s the hallmark of satan.

Years ago, I heard Ravi Zacharias respond to whether the decline of Christianity in the West or the rise of it in the developing world was more significant. He said they balance each other out.

That makes sense to me. I don’t believe angels or demons reproduce. According to my math, there are two angels for every demon. We will win the war, but the battles are real.

Two weeks ago, I gave a sermon entitled, “
Love Well.” In it, I reflected upon the fact that as a church family, we are diverse. We are different. We have a huge variety of views on politics, football teams, theology, fashion, and music. But we’re family. We’re a Jesus-centered family. We exist for God’s glory, not our own.

We are a Jesus-centered family
Restoring God's masterpieces
In Toledo and beyond
For His Glory.

I’m really glad we’re different. It would be so boring if everyone thought and acted like me! Sure, I have opinions and preferences, but when my focus is on God’s glory, I can set them aside. Sometimes I actually do!

Jesus said,

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

That phrase “love one another” was echoed in the book of Romans (13:8). Peter preached it (1 Peter 1:22; 3:8) John restated it (1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11; 2 John 5).

We are to love one another, even when we disagree. I think we were created to disagree! Again, it would be boring if we were all the same, but our differences allow us to be stretched, challenged, and grow. As someone once said, the purpose of marriage is not to make you happy, but to make you holy. I think that’s true for family, too.

Today I want to put some action behind this idea of love well, of loving one another. In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul uses the analogy of a body to describe the Church, the family of believers. It’s a brilliant metaphor vividly showing how we are all different, we’re supposed to be different, and when we are united, beautiful things emerge. When we are divided, of course, things get ugly…quick. Paul wraps up his instructions by saying,

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Corinthians 12:26)

If you stub your toe, your whole body suffers. If you have a sliver in your finger, attention is drawn to it. When you have a migraine…

Family, we have some parts who are suffering. It’s not a new pain, but one they have known since birth. It’s a suffering I can’t understand, but I can empathize. Just like I’ll never know the pain of giving birth, I can appreciate the agony as I hear it described (or by being an eyewitness three times!).

It’s easy for people in the majority culture to dismiss the struggle of those in the minority, whatever the situation. I’ve heard people of the lighter hue for years talk about how there’s equal opportunity, everyone should pick themselves up by their bootstraps, look at Oprah and Obama, and turn the other way whenever racial issues are presented.

Racism is not a political issue. It’s a biblical issue.
It’s a human issue. Jesus died for all masterpieces. We are all created in the image of God with dignity, value, and worth. All of us.

Pastor David Swanson writes, “It is deeply disturbing that so many Christians think that racial reconciliation is some kind of liberal, politically motivated social agenda that has nothing to do with their faith as followers of Jesus Christ.”

Tragically, some Christians seem to have more in common with those who share their race than those who share their faith. Some are more influenced by politics than Jesus.

Racism is not a political issue. It’s a biblical issue.

Proverbs, the book of wisdom, includes this important instruction:

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:8-9)

I’ve often heard that verse used by the pro-life movement, which is appropriate. Dr. Tony Evans said this week that God, “Wants to protect the life of the unborn in the womb, but wants to see justice of the life once born to the tomb. God wants a whole life agenda, not a term agenda.”

Evans said, “We’re in a medical pandemic. Simultaneously, we’re in a cultural pandemic because we’re seeing the devolution of our society…and we’re in a cultural pandemic because we’re in a spiritual pandemic.”

Family, I’ve spent countless hours these past several days praying, reading, and listening. Again, I confess I simply want to fix it! How? Should I run for political office? Will a great sermon do the job? What can I do on social media to make a statement? Is peaceful protest the answer?

One of my best friends on the planet, Dr. Calvin Sweeny, offered three suggestions for me:

  • 1. Listen to understand, not respond
  • 2. Learn about racial injustices
  • 3. Lead your congregations toward solutions (not just response) bathed in prayer

  • I’ve been focusing on steps one and two. Today is the beginning of step three.

    I prayed about how to address this issue today, knowing we’re not going to fix it in sixty minutes, but we can’t be silent, either. I spoke to many friends of color this past week—including many of you—and felt led to invite Pastor Donald Smith to join me today. Reverend Smith is the pastor of Sylvania Community Church, our sister Alliance congregation. He’s been here before for joint worship gatherings and I’ve asked him to speak to us today. Please, listen to understand, not respond.

    Interview with Pastor Donald Smith

    You can download our Next Steps resource guide

    You can watch a panel discussion on race, justice, and the Church's response led by Alliance President Dr. John Stumbo

    You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

    You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

    King Jesus, 13 November 2016

    King Jesus
    Romans 13:1-7

    Note: these are the original sermon notes. The actual sermon is quite different and available here.

    Big Idea

    We have elected a new president…but King Jesus is Lord!


    Good morning, church! My name is Kirk and I want to personally welcome you to First Alliance Church—not the building, but the family, the community of people in this room and beyond. We are a part of a larger family, the Christian & Missionary Alliance. One of the things I love about The Alliance is its diversity. Approximately ten percent of Alliance members live in the United States. About ninety percent of our family is scattered all over the globe.

    Speaking of the globe, our world was taken by surprise this past week. For a variety of reasons—largely due to the decreasing use of landline telephones for pollsters—most, if not all, of us woke up to surprising news on Wednesday morning. Some of you were concerned or even scared at the election results. Others were relieved or even celebrating.

    “For some people the savior has come, for others the sky is falling, but the truth lies somewhere in the middle.” So said someone after election day…in 2008.

    Regardless of your political persuasion, I have some encouraging news for you. No more campaign ads for four years! Actually, there is reason for great hope…and it has nothing to do with Washington or Columbus. God is on the move!

    Jesus Is LORD

    In Jesus’ day, religion was extremely popular. The Jews practiced their faith amongst the polytheistic Roman and Greek gods. Temples to these gods were common. Governmental leaders were even thrown in the mix, some treated as deity and others demanding such attention. It may sound odd to our ears, but a popular declaration was “Caesar is Lord.” To refuse to honor these gods was akin to sabotage. Some early Christians were blamed for famine, plagues, and earthquakes because they refused to worship the various gods.

    At age eighty-six, Polycarp, the second-century bishop of Smyrna and disciple of the apostle John, was brought to the Roman authorities and ordered to confess that Caesar is lord. By refusing, he was murdered, inspiring others to remain faithful.

    Just as “King of the Jews” was viewed by some as threatening to the establishment, so also “Jesus is Lord” was considered by many to be a revolutionary declaration. In fact, “Jesus is Lord” is the shortest credal affirmation found in the New Testament, a statement of faith for those regarding Jesus as fully God and fully man. Today it is the motto of the World Council of Churches.

    How did you feel on Wednesday morning when you heard the election results?

    If you felt anxiety or fear, King Jesus is Lord.
    If you felt joy and relief, King Jesus is Lord.

    The role of church and state has been debated for centuries. How are followers of Jesus supposed to relate to human leaders? Written in the midst of the Roman Empire, the book of Romans says…

    Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. (Romans 13:1-5)

    Let’s take a moment and unpack this.

    Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1)

    Twice in one verse it says God has established governing authorities. He has established rule and order. He established positions of power such as kings, presidents, and judges. It was never His plan for humans to narcissistically run around and pursue their own agendas in anarchy. Everything God does is carefully designed. He is the Author of systems, whether it is the solar system or your digestive system. Even the most outspoken atheists admit the universe has an order to it, making life on this planet incredibly unique.

    Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. (Romans 13:2-3)

    Obey the law. Although there are exceptions—especially among our African-American brothers and sisters, tragically—you usually only need to fear authority if you do what is wrong. If you’re going the speed limit on I-75, you need not slam on the brakes if you see a police car hidden behind a bridge.

    By the way, if you routinely speed, you might want to take the fish off of your rear bumper! Christians are supposed to obey the law. Is speeding a sin? Yes. Is cheating on your taxes a sin? Yes. Obey the law and you won’t find yourself in jail.

    For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. (Romans 13:4-5)

    There’s a lot in these two verses. First, the authorities are God’s servants—for our good. I know, I don’t like to drive under 70 on the expressway, either, but our authority thinks it’s for our good! And have you ever thought about our mayor, governor, or president as being God’s servants? That’s what it says!

    Throughout the Bible, leaders are responsible for their followers. This is true in the home, in the church, and in society. We all will stand before God someday and give an account of how we lived our lives, but leaders must also answer for the way they influenced others. So when you believe an authority figure is misguided, remember they will be judged for their behavior.

    This is not, of course, to say we should never break the law when doing so breaks God’s law. No single sermon could adequately address the nuances of such a response. Clearly Daniel was honored for praying to God against the decree of King Darius. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to worship the image of gold established by King Nebuchadnezzar and are commended.

    Personally, I’ve been deeply impacted by movies such as
    Selma and The Butler which depict the non-violent civil disobedience of African Americans in their quest for equality and civil rights. It sickens me that such oppressive laws—to say nothing of slavery itself and our violence against Native Americans—ever existed in this land.

    Yet today it’s against the law to talk about Jesus in the streets—and even homes—of Russia. You can be arrested for possessing a Bible in North Korea. You can go to jail in many countries for praying in the name of Jesus. And while persecution of Christians may be on the rise in the west, very few of the 70 million plus martyrs have been in the United States.

    We must pray for our brothers and sisters in other nations.
    We must pray for our brothers and sisters in this nation, too.

    This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:6-7)

    I admit, that first sentence is difficult for me to swallow! We pay taxes because God’s servants give their full time to campaigning—I mean, governing! For all of the complaining we can do—and I do!—I’m grateful for men and women who protect us (police and firefighters, stand up). I appreciate our mayor and city council who must balance the budget and make policies to guard against hunger and violence. I’m glad roads are paved, our food and water are safe, and we have freedoms of speech and religion, among other things.

    When asked about paying the imperial tax to Caesar, Jesus said

    “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Matthew 22:21b)

    Despite threats to move to Canada every four years, this is still a great place to live. Would anyone like to move to Iraq or Sudan?

    The Kingdom of God

    While the scriptures tell us to pay taxes and submit to authorities, our ultimate allegiance is not to a nation or to a flag, but to a King.

    In Greg
    Boyd's The Myth of a Christian Nation, Boyd contrasts Caesar's kingdom with Jesus' Kingdom, the Kingdom of God/heaven. Caesar's kingdom is based on the 'power over' model, which uses force, coercion, and social pressure to ensure conformity. Jesus' Kingdom by contrast uses 'power under', which is based on the example of love and sacrifice.

    Jesus says "
    Whosoever will, let them come..." He does not demand, overpower, threaten, coerce, or manipulate. He doesn’t use guilt or shame. He doesn’t hate, scream, or disrespect. He simply displays and invites us to follow him.

    It’s important to realize, too, the Kingdom of God is not about individuals. It’s about community. We are a family. Peter said,

    But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

    He continues

    Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:11-12)

    Our lives are to glorify God.

    Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:13-17)

    Respect everyone.
    Love one another.
    Fear and reverence God.
    Honor the emperor. The mayor. The governor. Yes, the president.

    Good News

    Brothers and sisters, when George Washington became our first president, King Jesus was Lord.

    When Abraham Lincoln led our nation, King Jesus was Lord.

    When JFK was elected, King Jesus was Lord.

    When Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama were inaugurated, King Jesus was Lord.

    And when Donald Trump becomes president next year, King Jesus will still be Lord.

    Hope in Jesus

    The LORD looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do. The best-equipped army cannot save a king, nor is great strength enough to save a warrior. Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory— for all its strength, it cannot save you. But the LORD watches over those who fear him, those who rely on his unfailing love. He rescues them from death and keeps them alive in times of famine. We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone. (Psalms 33:13-22, NLT)

    I’m glad I have a USA passport,

    But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21)

    Paul wrote to Timothy…

    I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

    Prayer for city, state, and nation.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • We Are Reconciled, 9 February 2014

    Big Idea: We are reconciled to God—and one another—in Christ.

    Ephesians 2:11-22


    Who are you? As we continue our series on the book of Ephesians, a letter written by Paul from prison to the early church, we’re looking at this issue of identity. “Know thyself” was the famous declaration attributed to a number of ancient Greek sages.

    Part of knowing ourselves is knowing others and how we are similar and different.

    From the beginning of time, humans have experienced rivalry and conflict.

    The differences between Cain and Abel resulted in the first murder.

    The differences between Catholics and Protestants resulted in one of two Church splits.

    The differences between those of European and African descent resulted in slavery.

    The differences between USAmericans and al-Qaeda resulted in 9/11.

    The differences between Buckeyes and Wolverines resulted in…

    It’s a natural result of sin and the fall that we tend to see others as the enemy, especially if they are different (which ultimately includes every person on the planet!). Competition can lead to healthy fun and encourage growth. The Olympic games are a great example of this as athletes are motivated to train and perform knowing others are doing the same. When good sportsmanship leads to a great race, the world appreciates the dedication of both the gold medalist and those with lesser awards. Unfortunately rivalry and conflict can also lead to hostility, hatred and even death.

    Differences can be celebrated and appreciated, but they must never overstep the second most important command given by God to love others.

    Tragically our world is not filled with love. Sure, we see people that love their families and friends, but Jesus’ command to love our enemy may be the most radical statement in human history. Whether literally or figuratively, we have constructed walls to separate us from others.

    The conflict we examine now is between Jews and Christians. Today that conflict may seem almost irrelevant. After all, when is the last time you heard about a Jew attacking a Christian? The Jewish/Muslim wall is far more visible, but the early church struggled to understand their role in relationship to the chosen ones of Israel. After all, God made a covenant with Abraham that included many special promises, including a Promised Land.

    It’s impossible for us today to fully understand the depth of the hostility. Nothing in our present culture comes close. The differences between Jews and Gentiles resulted in division, pride, and tension. Many Jews believed Gentiles were created by God to be fuel for the fires of hell. The animosity was so great that it was against the law for a Jew to help a Gentile mother in her hour of greatest need need because it would bring another Gentile into the world. If a Jew married a Gentile, a funeral was performed for the Jew since such contact with a Gentile was the equivalent of death. (
    The Message of Ephesians by John Stott).

    Jesus was Jewish while on the earth. His first converts and disciples were Jewish. Paul was Jewish. However, the church in Ephesus and other churches were in the region were composed primarily of Gentiles. You can imagine the challenges this presented, challenges that were addressed in nearly all of the New Testament letters. The obvious issue concerned the legitimacy of Gentiles that followed Yeshua, Jesus. Debates went beyond theology, however, to include cultural issues such as diet and circumcision.

    Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) — remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. (11-12)

    It’s notable that the Gentiles are referred to in the negative, the “un”circumcised. Gentiles were without God and without hope.

    Two thousands years later without God we have no hope. It’s no wonder people turn to drugs and pleasure and alcohol and a variety of other addictions. This is why it is so crucial for us to be filled with hope, filled with joy, and shine the light of Jesus to a dark, hopeless world. This is why God has a mission to seek and save the lost, and He has entrusted that mission—and the Great Commission—to you and me. These verses are written in the past tense to early believers, but to countless in our community there is presently no hope.

    But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (13)

    There’s another “but.” But God. But “in Christ.” The blood of Christ brings us in. I love this verse! We were far away and now we are brought near.

    For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (14-18)

    is our peace (2:14). He doesn’t distribute peace. He’s not the peace-maker. He is our peace. Peace is found in Jesus, not the opinion others have of you, circumstances, self-esteem, your finances, your health, or anything other than Jesus. Living in Him we have peace with God. Peace isn’t the absence of conflict; it’s the presence of Jesus.

    Jesus has made the two became one. Where have we heard that? Marriage!

    Yesterday on this stage a man and a woman became one in marriage. Each held a lit candle representing their two lives and families and brought them together to light the unity candle symbolizing their new life together. Neither individual was lost, but together a new family began.

    This past week I spent nearly three days praying with 32 other pastors from Washtenaw County. It was an incredible experience, not only to spend time with Jesus but also with many so different from myself—in every way except for Christ. We came together in Christ.

    On the way to the PACT Pastors Prayer Summit I was talking with my dear friend, Rabbi Allen Singer, about this passage. Allen is a Messianic Jew who embraces not only the Old Testament but also every word of the New Testament. He agreed that like a marriage, it is not the Gentile that becomes a Jew or a Jew that becomes a Gentile, but rather that one new man—one new believer—emerges because of Jesus. Through the cross we are both reconciled. Through Jesus we both have access to the Father by the Spirit, another beautiful image of the Trinity—one God in three Persons. Through Christ, Jews and Gentiles have equal access to God. We take this for granted but this was a radical revelation, especially to early Christians that were surrounded by elitist Jews who alone had special access to God before Jesus came. What this means is that through Jesus we all have access to the Father. My prayers are no more or less accessible to God than yours or Billy Graham’s. Jesus didn’t simply die so you can go to heaven when you die. He died to reconcile all—Jew and Gentile—to God if we trust and follow Him and receive by faith the gift of life that He offers.

    Our status is not based upon our race, color, nationality or earthly citizenship. It is based upon our identity “in Christ.” That’s what brings us together. Reconciliation doesn’t just happen because we say some flowery words or put on a nice show. It begins in the heart and our deepest common identity in Christ. God separated the Jews from the nations which led to spiritual pride and hatred between Jew and Gentile, but now there’s peace. Now there’s true shalom.

    Through Jesus we are even able to overcome church divisions that for centuries have separated Catholics and Protestants. I have often said that I have never met anyone that loves Jesus more than Father Ed Fride—and in my younger days I didn’t even know if it was possible to be Catholic and a Christian!

    Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (19-20)

    Have you ever been in a strange place where you felt uncomfortable? Foreign countries are probably the most extreme example, especially when you don’t know the language. You quickly realize you are an outsider, and unless you are confronted with someone with the gift of hospitality, you feel like you don’t belong. Incidentally, this is true when people visit churches, too. They often feel alien until they are welcomed. Hospitality literally means welcoming the stranger.

    In Christ we are not longer aliens. As we said weeks ago, we are saints. We are God’s children (1 John 2:12). David was God’s servant (2 Samuel 7:8). Moses was God’s servant (Number 12:7). We are fellow citizens. We belong to heaven now. Our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

    The apostles and prophets were not the foundation but laid the foundation. The foundation is Jesus (1 Cor. 3:11), the chief cornerstone. He is our foundation. He is our senior pastor. He is our big Brother, and because of Him, we receive the same love and treatment and access to the Father that He enjoys.

    In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (21-22)

    Paul refers to the Old Testament temple. We are living stones put together by Christ (1 Peter 2:5). The Church is under construction today. The temple is holy because the Holy Spirit fills each believer.

    J. Vernon McGee said that God placed in a human-made structure is a pagan philosophy. God is in the house because we are in the house. When we come together to worship, the Holy Spirit is present, but when we all leave the building, the Holy Spirit leaves with us.

    This building is important, but it’s not any more holy than your house, your car, your school, your office, or anywhere else you find yourself filled with the Holy Spirit. The house of God is not the church building…it’s you!!!


    The first three chapters of Ephesians are filled with doctrine and theology that help us understand our identity, who we are. The second half of the book is filled with practical application.

    To review,

    we are in Christ
    we are saints
    we are blessed
    we are appreciated
    we are saved

    We are reconciled—in Christ.

    Paul was imprisoned for allegedly taking a non-Jew inside the temple of Jerusalem (Acts 21:27, 29). It was his efforts at reconciliation that led him to prison where he wrote this letter.

    In some ways Ephesians is not unlike Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” a famous document written while imprisoned from the cause of reconciliation.

    At the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games last week, IOC president Thomas Bach said

    Olympic Games are always about building bridges to bring people together. Olympic Games are never about erecting walls to keep people apart. Olympic Games are a sports festival embracing human diversity in great unity.

    He echoes the words of Paul, recognizing that despite our history, culture, race, income, nationality, gender, occupation or family of origin our primary identity and true unity can only be found—not in athletic competition—but “in Christ.”

    We have more in common with believers of other nations, races and languages than non-believers from our own families. We are reconciled and made one in Christ.


    Some ideas from

    J.I. Packer, Ephesians (sermon series audio)
    Mark Driscoll,
    Who Do You Think You Are (book and podcast series)
    GLO Bible
    Louie Giglio, Passion City Church sermon series
    J. Vernon McGee
    , Thru The Bible, http://thruthebible.ca

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.