“The Call to the Church”
What does God see (certainly His heart is grieved) and what does He want to say?
I am addressing the church of Jesus at Williamsburgh. I am endeavoring to speak to you as your pastor. My platform is not large and so I’m not attempting to speak to the nation, but just want to share from God’s Word, so that somehow we may hear His voice and feel His heart and see His perspective on the turmoil and pain that is rocking our nation
As I considered what to say this morning, I was reminded of a passage from the prophet Isaiah:
“Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isa. 1:16-18
So, let us come to the Lord this morning, open His word together, and allow Him to reason with us, to speak to our hearts.
Five thoughts from God’s perspective…
- As children of God we must Take a Stand against injustice, oppression, prejudice, violence and hate.
Let us be clear where God stands on these maladies of our society:
- “[God] loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness and steadfast love of the Lord.” Psalm 33:5 ESV
- “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing.” Isaiah 61:8 NIV
- “Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness, and his upper rooms by injustice, who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing and does not give him his wages. But you have eyes and heart only for your dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, and for practicing oppression and violence.”” Jeremiah 22:3, 13, 17
- “But let justice run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” Amos 5:24
- “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8 KJV
- Ministry of Jesus – moved with compassion. Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Women at the well, the Women caught in adultery… Jesus always comes to the defense of the defenseless.
- “If any one say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
- As children of God we must Model for the “world” what God’s LOVE looks like
- We are called to be light and salt a city set on a hill. The light shines brightest in the darkness. These days call for the church to shine – we are not divided, all one body we, one in hope and doctrine, one in CHARITY. “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” 1 John 3:10
- Build relationships/inclusiveness. The Church must be a picture of EQUALITY – “Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:11 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 KJV
- Equality in God’s sight is more than just about individual rights. It is that each of us, each life is of value to God – He values all of us EQUALLY. The principle of Equal rights is based on Equal value as children of God.
- The CROSS is the great equalizer for all people. No one is better than another – we are all sinners and must kneel at the cross of Christ for forgiveness and salvation. “For he himself is our PEACE, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to RECONCILE both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” Ephesians 2:14-16
- Remember the Beatitudes were spoken into a society fraught with oppression and injustice. These are the principles for believers/the church in responding to hated-filled elements of our society. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” MLK
- As children of God we must bring a Message of HOPE and peace (as opposed to cynicism and divisiveness)
- Hope is essential to the message of change. He must hope things can be different, that society change be altered, that people can change. But that hope points back to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the God of hope who created us in His image. Once we lose hope we lose in the battle for lasting change. “In the midst of outer dangers I have felt an inner calm and known resources of strength that only God could give. In many instances I have felt the power of God transforming the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope.” MLK
- Hope lifts up and infuses the struggle with noble purpose. “The God whom we worship is not a weak and incompetent God. He is able to beat back gigantic waves of opposition and to bring low prodigious mountains of evil. The ringing testimony of the Christian faith is that God is able.” MLK
- As children of God we must Promote Change (for us this equates to Prayer – much prayer).
- Don’t minimize the power of prayer. The tide of wars and the course of history has been altered by the fervent prayers of God’s people.
- Civil reform is desperately needed to correct injustice and oppression in our society. We must pray for righteous leaders and for just laws to be enacted expeditiously. We must pray that our nation will realize the need to call upon God.
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” ― Abraham Lincoln
- But the cause of injustice and prejudice must also be recognized. The hearts of people need to be changed and only God can do that. Hatred and prejudice toward our fellow human beings must be eradicated and replaced with love, the love of God as displayed to us in Christ.
- The only source of real change is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here is the power to transform completely, to save us from our sin and ourselves. To change us from selfish, greedy, arrogant individuals to LOVING, unselfish, giving people who are clothed with humility, who consider others BETTER themselves; who seek the welfare and well-being of others ahead of personal gain and comfort.
- “Like the early Christians, we must move into a sometime hostile world armed with the revolutionary gospel of Jesus Christ. With this powerful gospel we shall boldly challenge the status quo.” MLK
- As a child of God, I must Ask God to search my heart and change me…show me what to do
- Promote change – Prayer changes things – Prayer changes me! I need to begin there. Lord change my heart, search my heart, fill me your compassion, your love for my fellowmen. May attitudes, opinions, and actions must be subject to your Word. My words and actions must be prompted by the love of God.
- Show me what I can do. Don’t let me hide behind my closed doors, if you want me to do something in Your Name and in Your strength as promoted by Your Love and Compassion.
- Parable of Good Samaritan is an indictment of apathy by those who claim to be religious. Luke 10:25-37