Monday, August 28, 2017

Are YOU a bigot?

“Are you a bigot?”

 Terms like bigotry, racism, hate groups, Alt-right, KKK, Nazis, BLM, and Antifa bombard us in the media and on social media. So where does biblical Christianity fit? What should the Church’s response be? What should our church’s response be? What should a Christian’s response be?
  Scripture teaches that the solution always begins with suspicion. I must be suspicious of the sinner that I know best – ME. Prejudice and pride are nearly synonymous. Pride is the first sin recorded and is at the root of all bigotry. It’s the sin most enticing and most subtle. Pride convinces me that I’m better than someone else. It focuses on differences, rather than similarities. It focuses on supposed superiority, rather than mutual weakness. It was pride that made angels into devils.
  I was raised in a very arrogant and bigoted home. Some of it was ethnic, yet most of it was economic and academic. Terms like “white trash,” “no good,” or “lazy” were common ones. We looked down on others for their lack of money, career choice or academic weakness.
  It’s very tempting when racism is pariah to self-righteously pat ourselves on our backs that we’re not bigoted. Yet, bigotry is much more than just ethnic. That’s why the first person’s heart that I must judge for the sin of bigotry is my own, 1 Corinthians 11:31. Please be assured that it will be a lifelong battle to combat pride and prejudice, one in which we will continually need to rely on God’s grace.
  While the Bible teaches there are various ethnic or people groups, I don’t believe the Bible teaches the concept of “races.” There is only one race, the human one. Language, skin color, facial shape differences are part of ethnic diversity, not racial distinction. The fact that there is only one race is the reason that blood transfusion and organ donation are possible.
  Our world will continue to attempt to bring about a “united nations.” It will never happen. The only place there can ever truly be unity in the midst of diversity is in the Church, local and universal. It begins with humility and honesty. I’m a mess. We’re all a big mess. We’re all depraved.
  Romans 3 unpacks for us that none of us are good. We’re not even nice. We don’t seek God, He seeks us. Because of that, we’re not better than anyone else. In fact, everything that we have has been given to us from our ethnic group, heritage or abilities, whether they’re academic, economic, athletic or artistic. They can also be taken away. It’s only because of God’s grace and providence that we have anything that others do not.
  All of us struggle with the cancer of prejudice. Our evil hearts tend to look down on those different from us. Listen carefully to yourself and how often you speak so easily and disparagingly of those who are different, whether it’s ethnic, religious, economic or chronological. It might even be related to an unhealthy habit. For example, non-smokers often look askew at smokers. Prejudice and pride are noxiously alive in our hearts.
  And if we’re not vigilant, bitterness and hate can take root in our hearts toward those that we perceive as hateful. As hateful as the hateful may be, the Bible never allows us to hate the hateful. We forget that Jesus died for the hateful, too. What we are naïve of is that in hating the hateful, we quickly become the hateful. I know that I do.
  For example, one of the greatest cultural atrocities today is abortion. At one time I found that I despised abortionists, until I finally met someone who’d had one. Then, God wonderfully changed my evil heart. I realized that in God’s sight to despise someone made me just as culpable before God as a murderer. Jesus died for murderers like me as well as those who take a baby’s life, and His grace knows no limits. One of the most exciting stories in recent church history is that of Norma McCorvey, the original “Jane Doe” of Roe v. Wade. She was gloriously converted because one Christian demonstrated love when so many other “believers” showed hate.
  As we walk through the pages of Scripture, one of the cruelest and most hateful individuals was Saul, before he met Jesus. Then, God gave him a new heart and he became the Apostle Paul. One of Church History’s biggest bigots became the defender of the very ones that he’d previously despised. Amazingly, because Paul believed that God loved all people groups, his own countrymen wanted to kill him. Yet, through God’s grace Paul loved the hated and the hateful. And that’s what God has called us to as well. We must repent and confess the sins of pride and prejudice, allowing the Spirit to do surgery, removing this cancer in our own souls. It’s not a once for all procedure, but one that must happen nearly daily. Then, as we’re loved by God, we’re to love others.
  Our strongest love and unity will always be with those who’ve also humbly acknowledged the evil in their own hearts and realize that it is all of grace. That’s because Christ’s love breaks down every barrier: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
  The local church should be the greatest model of love and unity, one that astounds a tribally divided world fragmented over ethnic, economic and political differences. Though we naturally are attracted to those who are like us, God has called us to something better by His supernatural grace.
  Do you want to demonstrate God’s gracious power in your life? Reach out to and build relationships with those who are unlike you? If you’re old, reach out to the young. If you’re young, reach out to the old. If you don’t have kids, reach out to those who do. If you’re married, reach out to the single. If you’re blue collar reach out to the white collar. If you’re Caucasian, reach out to someone from who is Hispanic. If you're Asian, reach out to someone who is African-American. Share a meal. Share your story. Listen to theirs. 
  The strongest testimony to a hateful world is God’s love and the unifying power of the Cross. Do others see Christ’s transforming power in your life?  

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