You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here [in the image of the Creator] there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:9–12, NIV 1984).
My Musings – In a world of people dominated by the “old self” there is division. There is bias. There is bigotry. There is racism. If this were not so, there would be no genocide, no ethnic “cleansing,” no holocausts, no involuntary “servitude,” no cultural divides, no Jim Crow laws, no class warfare. These are all consequences of the fall.
Christ came, suffered, died, and rose again to not only end our separation from God, but to give us a “new self” where “who is our neighbor” could be a moot question. Yet, as recent as 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963 said, “it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning.” While the United States has come a long way since the end our Civil War, there is still a long way to go.
Now some of this “segregation” could be that people generally like to socialize and fellowship with those most like them. But to the extent it is owing to a lack of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” then in the words of our Savior to His disciples “not so with you.” If it is, then shame on us. “Us” being not just black or white, not just rich or poor, not just Jew or Muslim. But to any who because of the lack of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” would exclude or discriminate against others.
We the Church must be transformed, clothed in our “new self” before we can expect to transform the culture. But “the way for [the Church] to achieve the greatest social and cultural transformation is not to focus on social and cultural transformation, but on the gospel ‘conversion’ of individuals from false religions to the worship of the crucified and risen Christ. Or to put it another way: [the Church] will lose their culturally transforming power if they make cultural transformation their energizing focus.” (John Piper). Because the Gospel “is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16, NIV 1984).
My Advice – Merely treating symptoms (bigotry, racism, hate) with only social programs is not a cure. And contrary to popular opinion, there is only one cure — the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin [social status, ethnicity] but by the content of their character.” (Matin Luther King, Jr.). We may never live in that nation, but we are citizens of that Kingdom. Until we physically enter that Kingdom, let’s do our part to bridge the divides in our nation and the world. Christ is the only lasting answer.
Thanks to Pastor Kevin Rutledge and Pastor Steve Persson (First Baptist Church of Sycamore) for their inspiration of this post.