“A Gospel Response to Charlottesville” (guest post by Adam Myers)

Sin is sin, no matter which –ism label gets slapped on it. It is wicked, evil, dishonoring to God and hurtful to those created in His image. As followers of Jesus Christ and citizens of His kingdom, we must evaluate the flagrant sins at Charlottesville and the broader tensions of sinful attitudes toward race in our country not from an American political viewpoint or from an American nationalism or patriotism, but from a nationalism and patriotism rooted in our heavenly citizenship. In a world broken by sin and awaiting redemption, we have to constantly shape our responses to life with the Gospel.

So this short post is not about looking around at sin and throwing up our hands in despair or frustration or superficial guilt or outrage designed to garner likes and retweets. Rather, it is about looking forward to the coming reality of the return of Christ in Glory, and looking around at sin and throwing wide our arms in love to invite those from every tongue, tribe and nation to the delight of racial unity in Christ.

In just a few steps, we can frame the history of the world through the 2 lenses of the Gospel and racial division. Telling our story in this way helps us to focus our hope on Christ and to embed our response to the brokenness around us in Him.

First, we know that history is bookended with unity in one man. God created humanity as a unified race in Adam. “From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live.” (Acts 17:26)
Though sin separated and divided this unity, all who believe in Christ are united again in Christ, the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45-49).

For it is in Christ that those without hope and without God in the world who have been “brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In his flesh, he made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that he might create in himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. He did this so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death. He came and proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household…” (Eph. 2:13-19)

Therefore, because Christ has made one new man from all who believe in Him, we can rejoice that “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)

Ultimately, because we have been made one in Christ Jesus, we can look forward with anticipation to the day revealed to John in which “there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in our hands. And they cried out in loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Rev. 7:9-10)

With the deepest kind of joy, then, we can read the news and weep at the sin without despairing for lack of hope. And, in harmony with this hope, we can build our response to Charlottesville out of the following applications to Revelation 7:
• Because salvation belongs to God and not to us, we can work from a foundation of hope rather than despair to invite people into the love of God in Christ without regard for their appearance.
• Because God is seated on the throne, we can anchor our patriotism to His Kingdom and build our earthly political interest and involvement from the priorities and realities of that Kingdom.
• And because Jesus Christ is the Lamb, he’s united us all in His death and resurrection in a way that our varying skin colors shine together to reflect the beauty and creativity of God.

Questions to run with:
1. As we continue to study through the Gospel of John, Pastor Tom preached Sunday 8/13/17 on the unity of believers in Christ (John 17:20-26). How do we live as a congregation (from Latin for “gathered into a flock”) in a nation marked by segregation (from Latin for “separated from the flock”)?
2. Our church attendance is markedly different than the demographics of our community. How can we better reflect the love and welcome of the Gospel to make room for others? What sacrifices will it be our joy to make for the sake of unity in Christ?

(Scripture passages are quoted from the Christian Standard Bible, online at read.csbible.com.)

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