All Is Well In America
2 Cor 5:17-18 (NKJV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
I have been struggling for a way to start this book. I have had many false starts. This book covers so many sensitive topics and so many “hot-button” issues. Recently I heard 2 Cor 5:17-18 in church and it hit me. This book is about “reconciliation.” Not in the strict sense of the “ministry of reconciliation” as this Scripture specifically speaks to, but a reconciliation of the members within the body of Christ.
You may be thinking that since this Scripture deals with the reconciliation of the lost to God that it has no application to the members of the body of Christ. In the purest sense, that would be true. However, as members of the body of Christ, we are all new “creations” who have been reconciled back to God together through Jesus Christ. In our reconciliation, we have a new shared identity that takes precedence over our previous identities.
Our previous identities, specifically as members of a particular race, are part of the old things that have passed away. I’m not saying that we aren’t to have pride in our ethnic origins and identities, but as members of the body of Christ our racial and ethnic identities are supposed to be subservient to our new creation identity.
Rom 12:2-5 (NKJV)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.
The premise of this book is that we in the body of Christ have not let old ideas about race and ethnic origin pass away. The Scripture above tells us “not to think more highly of” ourselves than we “ought to think,” recognizing that we are all members of the body of Christ and “individually members of one another.”
In essence, that’s what racism and bigotry are, thinking more highly of ourselves, as it pertains to our ethnic/racial ancestry than we should. As a nation, collectively we, however, have not “renewed our minds” in this area. Further, we have allowed ourselves to be “conformed” to the “world’s” way of accenting differences and assigning negative values to those differences. In his book, “Christ the Healer,” F. F. Bosworth says, “Remission is the wiping out of everything connected with the old life.” (Bosworth, 1973)
Racism and bigotry are sinful ways of thinking and mindsets “connected with the old life.” These mindsets reflect a hardened heart that has not yet been renewed with the truth of the Word of God that as members of the body of Christ, we are all one.
Rev 20:12 (NKJV)
And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
Ezek 33:8-9 (Berean Study Bible)
If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ but you do not speak out to dissuade him from his way, then that wicked man will die in his iniquity, yet I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you warn the wicked man to turn from his way, and he does not turn from it, he will die in his iniquity, but you will have saved your life.
As the Scriptures above attest, all of us have been given the “ministry of reconciliation” and will stand before God and give an account. There is most definitely no room for racism when someone’s soul is in the balance. How can we stand before God and say that I did not warn this one or let my light or your love shine to that one because of their race?
Racism and bigotry were the elements that hardened Jonah’s heart against Nineveh and caused him to try to refuse to deliver a message of deliverance and salvation to an entire group of people—120,000 souls. (Jonah Chapter 4)
We are extensions of God’s mercy and deliverance to the world, not just to those that look like us. Could it be that God would use us like He did Jonah to bring deliverance to people we don’t like, people we even have allowed ourselves in our “old thinking” to come to despise?
Many have an “us” and “them” mentality that is non-existent in Heaven. From God’s perspective, we are in two groups, those that have accepted His Son and those that have rejected Him. Those whose names are “written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” and those whose names are not (Rev 13:18, 21:27). That’s it.
We know from Rev chapter 7 that a beautiful mosaic of redeemed peoples makes up the unified worshippers of Heaven:
Rev 7:9-10 (NKJV)
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
We often pray an “Our Father” prayer that contains the phrase, “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” God’s will in Heaven clearly is one body of believers from all nationalities and people groups, yet we resist that picture here on earth. I noticed that the passage from Rev 7 did not have some people groups assembled on a higher platform than others. It is absurd even to consider such a thing in Heaven since we as created beings are nothing before the Almighty God. Our only value exists in His love for us and our return of that love. As lovers of God and recipients of His great love, we all fall prostrate as equals before Him. How then do we allow ourselves to make such distinctions during our very brief time down here on earth?
1 Cor 12:17-26 (NIV)
If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty,while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it,so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
The vision of God’s will in Heaven is one body of believers worshipping Him and living in His presence. His vision for us on earth isn’t too much different. God’s vision for us on Earth is one body of believers, with different parts, contributing different things, but joined together, working to fulfill His purpose in the Earth (“thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”).
If we are tricked, however, into viewing the body with an unrenewed mind, we emphasize the differences in the body and not their complementarity. We act in opposition to the Scripture and God’s express will by saying to certain parts of the body, “I don’t need you.” Instead of giving “honor” to the different parts, we denigrate the other parts that are different from the part that we are. This creates a division in the body that Scripture says should not be.
The Scripture says that there should be “no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it,” that is one of the key messages of this book.
As a nation, we have allowed the Great Divider, Satan himself, to cause us to be blinded to the suffering and concerns of the parts that don’t look like our part. That is exactly where this nation has fallen short since the time of the Founding Fathers to the present. Whether it was the plight of the Indians, the enslavement of Africans, or the mistreatment of immigrants from various parts of the globe, the church has often been silent or played the role of the priest and the Levite in Luke Chapter 10’s parable of the “good Samaritan.” It was the religious leaders in the parable who crossed to the other side of the street when they saw the wounded man.
Ironically in Jesus’ parable, it was a member of the unchurched, a gentile, that stepped in and showed the mercy and love of God. Often in our nation’s history, the church hasn’t been the first to step in to assist and it has figuratively crossed to the other side of the street and allowed atrocities and injustice to propagate unchecked.
Here’s a simpler analogy. If you called my sister ugly or my mom a derogatory term, you should expect that I would be offended, angry, perhaps even violent. You would expect that I would come to the defense of the members of my family. But that is exactly what is happening in our nation today. We have members of the body of Christ, members of the “family” of God who say nothing, who do not aid in the defense of other parts of the body when they are attacked along racial lines.
If for example, someone says something bad about black or Latin people as a group can you not see how that will cause the people in that group to “suffer?” How can you say you are following Scripture and suffering along with them if you don’t “have an equal concern” for how they are being treated? It does not give “greater honor” to a different part of the body when you allow it to be slandered. Satan sows seeds of division; we allow them to grow.
All Is Well In America
A couple of Sunday’s ago, I was watching a pastor online who said that it was a “great time to be in America.” He said that the economy was good and that we had no major wars going on, etc. Instantly my thoughts shifted to a vision of an America more racially divided than any other time since the 1960s. The sharp contrasts between our realities triggered a flurry of emotions: anger, sadness, resentment, unbelief, disillusionment, and bitterness.
How could he and I live in the same country and see things so differently? How could a person with a widely acclaimed “prophetic mantle” not see the division in our nation, the dangers related to it and the spiritual forces behind it?
It is profoundly “dishonoring” to say the equivalent of “all is well in America” at a time when division along racial lines is being stirred up at the highest levels of our nation and remains virtually unchecked by the church. Saying that all is well in America flies in the face of the Scripture that says we should have equal concern for each other and suffer when others in the body suffer.
Saying all is well in America, essentially says things are well for me and mine while placing a stick in the sand, or even a wall, to mark a line of division between the ones I care about and everyone else. These sentiments are in effect a modern-day crossing to the other side of the street in order to not have to face, to come to terms with the less fortunate, the wounded, the members of the body that are not like us.
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