I’d like to remind you of something. I have no authority to made demands, and I offer no new revelation from on high. I cannot read minds or infallibly discern hearts. My message is more an expression of longing than of prophetic denunciation: I want you to live up to your better self. I want you to remember who you are and why you are in this world. I want you to be free, fearless, and determined. I want you to be clear and confident.
You are God’s People
You are not like other people. You are different. You were chosen by God, assigned a mission, and empowered for a task. You know something other people do not know. Your sense of identity stretches backward before the world began and forward into eternity. The meaning of what you do daily is determined not merely by its immediate causes and effects but by its relationship to God.
When you think of yourself you must not think first of your national, social, or ethnic identity. You are not first male or female, black or white, rich or poor, or educated or uneducated. Like Paul, we must consider all these marks of identity and distinction “garbage” compared to knowing Jesus Christ (Phil 3:8). We are the person God chose us to be in Christ.
Church, please rise above these distinctions. Do not fall into the pattern of contemporary society and politics by giving these distinctions the importance nonbelievers give them and allowing them to cause divisions within God’s people. Nonbelievers, of course, have their identity in the world. That is all they know. But we know of another homeland and another family. I am not speaking here of mere politeness while you are at a church assembly. I am talking about what goes on in the deep recesses of your hearts. Know with the clarity and in depth of your soul that you are a child of God. Let that knowledge free you from the bonds of other identifiers.
Bear Witness to Jesus
Why did God choose, call, and empower you? You have one task, that is, to bear witness to the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ. You are obligated to point people to him as Lord and Savior. You are supposed to manifest to everyone the power and quality of life that Jesus lived. Jesus must live in your entire life, in every dimension, in every relationship, for every moment, and into and throughout your soul. Paul again speaks the word we need to hear:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
Bear witness to Jesus in the way you speak. Bless and never curse. It must begin in your heart. Turn away from anger and offense. Do not retaliate for evil done or insults given. Don’t do it on social media, in your car on the freeway, or in your heart of hearts. When nothing good can be said or done, keep silent. Bear witness to Jesus in how you act toward others. Never act unlovingly or unjustly toward anyone. Help those in need. Be faithful, loyal, and truthful. And when someone asks you why you live as you do, tell them how Jesus changed you.
Church, I am worried about you. Please keep your divinely given mission close to your heart: your charge is to witness to Jesus by living as he lived. Do not import worldly agendas into your life. Oh, how tempting it is to adopt contemporary social causes as if they were divine obligations. After all, these causes seem to be working for good ends. Should not the church stand against, injustice, poverty, oppression, abuse of the environment, inequity, and racism? Should not the church call out immorality, irresponsible behavior, and envy? Many contemporary believers find this an unanswerable argument. For the church also considers these things to be sinful and would happily see them removed. Indeed, it would. But not by the world’s methods.
Church, you must never let a part of your moral vision be disengaged from the complete vision of life in Christ and from the call to repent and believe in Jesus. That is what politicians and social activists want you to do. They want to channel the energy of the church into secular political causes, but they care nothing for the gospel and the life of discipleship to Jesus. Don’t be fooled. Do not join their causes—right, left, or center—no matter what evil it fights or what good it proposes. Their solutions to evil are intimidation, law, violence, rudeness, slander, obscenity, persecution, protest, coercion, and police action. Such activities cause strife and division among believers and between believers and nonbelievers. You must follow a different path. You must preach the gospel, do good works in the name of Jesus, and set an example of a comprehensively good life, individually and communally.
With affection and concern,
Your views and ideas on morals, ethics, legality and governance (the political) made me think about relationships. Fascinating. I supposed that the moral and ethical are associated very much as starting with the individual, and politics the many. And then i thought about the passions that drive all of these singular and plural entities, and what goes wrong with the understanding, and what has gone wrong with the communication. It is exactly as you say, Ron, mankind is fundamentally flawed- just like your woeful list. Why? Again it is as you say.
The only real relationship that matters is with God; and with God we are completely known, and are even known as individuals. Yet also we, as God’s children are all the same, united, and are one altogether in Christ… like identical slates protecting a tiled roof.
Prayer has lead me to the Gospel of St John chapter 16, for my benefit; may i say for the love of believers everywhere, and the whole church, it finishes thus (paraphrazing)
“… then be of good cheer… for i have conquered the world!”
And for those readers looking into the beautiful and rewarding challenges of this chapter, St John quotes a line about ‘right-standing-with (righteousness) God’ also as you have said.
The love of God be with you Ron, bless you for your messages about the Lord’s plan.