Monday, June 8, 2020

For Us Or Against Us

Our world is tearing itself apart and we need help. Thankfully there is help to be had.

There are riots happening globally with anger and frustration fuelling the rage of people trying desperately to make a way forward.

At least I like to think that the motivation is to make a way forward but I am thoughtful that we won’t achieve this goal unless we adopt a new way of thinking and living.

Martin Luther King Jr. was approaching this when he said that that darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that, and truth be told, the light we need is the light of Jesus.  But to live in His light is not to simply add Him to our regular way of doing things.  No.  Living in the light of Jesus means learning to live in an entirely foreign way to what we are seeing take place globally.

As well meaning as it seems that one Race oppose another Race to overcome injustice, it betrays what the Light of heaven desires.  And that is not to say that that means that God doesn’t want people to stand for justice.  It just means that His way of doing justice requires that we adopt a whole new set of rules.

So what might that look like?

In the book of Joshua we read that God had brought His people to the city of Jericho to accomplish His plan of settling His people in a land inhabited by people who opposed God.  It would have been easy for Joshua, the leader of God’s people, to assume that God was going to be on their side as the fighting ensued.

That would make logical sense right?  If God led you to fight against another people group then obviously He is on your side!

But let’s see what actually happens...

“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?”
“Neither,” he replied, “but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence...” (Joshua 5:13-14)

Joshua quickly learned that God was not on his side, God was on a side entirely His own!

God was not approaching this battle from the perspective of one people pitted against another people.  He was accomplishing His own mandate for His own purposes. And Joshua’s response is telling as this revelation unfolded.

It says that he knelt in reverent fear.  He didn’t redouble his efforts to overcome another people group that stood in opposition to him.  He paused and acknowledged Sovereign God.

Only light can cast out darkness, and Jesus is that Light that our world so desperately needs.

It’s time that we stop encouraging any race from fighting against another race.  And it’s time that we stop assuming that God is on our side.  God does not see “sides” like we do, He sees His good and righteous mandate of freedom and liberation for all human beings made in His image accomplished through His Son Jesus Christ.

God does not need us to fight His battles for Him.  What He desires is that we would pause, take a knee, not in solidarity with a particular color of people, but in reverent fear and respect for the King of Kings.

This is how we fight our battles.


When we do this, the walls that divide us don’t stand a chance.


Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Flesh and Blood

We are living in times when deep-seated division between people is fracturing our world.  Political leaders of parties are doing their best to lead but within a new populist reality that causes so many to justify the vilification of other leaders in the pursuit of political gain.  Where are the ones who have, in the past, pursued governing based on principles instead of image?

We have divisions that are driving wedges between races and this, again, raises its head publicly with the tragic death of George Floyd.  And the public outcry?  It is a race issue, because that is what is seen, it is one color that is pitted against the other.  And as long as the 'answer' is for one race to overcome the injustice by overcoming the other race, there will never be peace.

Racism has two sides:  one is the oppressor that perpetrates acts of injustice against another race, and two is the victim that tries to overcome racism by opposing and ultimately overcoming the oppressing race.  The problem is this:  both efforts drink from the well of racism, even though it feels intuitively right for the victim to oppose the oppressor.  Ultimately this whole thing reeks of the toxic quicksand of racism that drags every single person down with it.

Here is a snapshot of the futility of trying to overcome racism with even a well-meaning opposing racism. . .Recently many white people have been trying to align with and fight for black oppressed people.  But many black people are fighting against those white people who are trying to be their allies.  Why?  Because it is a matter of race, and it just seems so hypocritical to allow the visibly opposing race to come alongside.

There is no winning the battle of race because that is the rules of this game. . .there will never be any true answers or peace, until people begin to realize that the rules of this game of injustice are designed to accomplish exactly what we are seeing:  hatred and division.

Here is the question that those who call Jesus Christ Lord and Saviour must wrestle with:  Do we believe that He is able to provide a way that brings peace?  Does He really have what it takes to stand in the middle of a race fueled riot and have something very relevant to say?  Do we as His children have what it takes to realize that He is trying to teach us an entirely different set of rules that do not allow race to be the central issue at all?

We need strength and power to overcome this hatred, hopelessness and injustice but it will never come through our current ways of thinking, speaking and acting. It will only come through Jesus.

Ephesians 6:10 says:  ". . .be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power."  Ok, so let's take that seriously for our broken times.  Does He really mean that?  And what does that look like?

It says that we are to "take our stand against the devil's schemes."  Alright.  When I look at the hatred and chaos taking place it is clear to me that though the issue is being played out visibly by people with different colors, the way forward will never be found by simply trying to do harder the things we are doing now.  It only creates more chaos.  So let's finally recognize the wisdom of identifying that the deep division in our society originates from Satan. . it is his schemes at work here.  And let's take that seriously.

So how do we do that exactly?

By refusing to align with the current 'wisdom' of one race being pitted against the other either as the offending party or as the answer to overcome the offense.  All are victims in this charade and it is time that the Children of God stood and begin to proclaim what the real answer is: we begin by realizing that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil." Ephesians 6:12.

I refuse to align myself with any Facebook, Twitter or any digital proclamation that ascribes to an answer that suggests or blatantly pits one race against or over another.  It is all part of the same racist rules of that game.  I won't play by those rules anymore because God Himself tells me that those rules do not line up with eternal wisdom and will ultimately prove ineffective to find peace.

Instead, I am choosing to fight the real battle which is the Enemy, and the only way to overcome him is by the blood of the Lamb and word of my testimony that proclaims Jesus as our only hope.

Sounds good maybe, but how do we practically do that?  It starts by me saying 'no' to joining any movement that pits race against race.  When injustice is done, like to George Floyd, then I will not say that the answer is to bring one race 'down to size', but instead will be to point to Jesus and say, "I will fight injustice done to any person or race based on the fact that that person bears the image of God Himself and He desires that each one be given their appropriate dignity and safety."  Then I will invite any and all who hear me to come to the foot of the cross where we can find true and lasting peace.  And before anyone gives in to a sense that this way of approaching this war is futile, ineffective, naive, disconnected from reality, unwise, or misguided to the real issue, then I ask you, as a follower of Jesus Christ, what does being strong in the Lord mean?  What does it really mean when He tells me that doing so will mean that I am 'standing' against evil schemes?

Just how much do we believe that Jesus is the powerful One who designed human life and that He just might have the answers we desperately need for the very real issues that are taking lives right before our eyes?

I for one, am beginning to believe Him.  And that's why I will no longer lend my weight to any movement that tries to depict the answer to overcoming division between people as anything other than the One who designed it in the first place.

It is for the children of God to follow Jesus right into the center of any injustice; race, political or otherwise, and to express the obstinate love of God to all.  We will decide to stand with any who are hurting or broken; to any who have experienced the brutality of hatred and suffering, but I will not put 'race' on it anymore. I will call it for what it really is:  it is the evil scheme of a spiritual enemy that requires the spiritual victory of Jesus to overcome it.  I will stand amidst any who are hurt or who doing the hurting and will point all to Jesus, because it is in Him that we will find true liberation, freedom and peace.

This may sound like the most naive thing to do, because it will ring empty to most everyone that hears it.  Especially when it comes time to stand publicly and make this same proclamation to every ear.  But it has never been any different and the times are pressing us. . .how will you respond?

The more complex and hopeless the world gets, the more we need the simplest and most profound Answer ever given to humanity. . .and His name is Jesus.