In light of the horrific events that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia where racial tensions once again boiled over into violence and tragedy, Pastor Ellery reminded us that racial and socioeconomic difficulties have been transpiring ever since humans have been interacting with each other. Because of our fallen nature, there have always been comparative problems such as belief in God or non-belief, differences in skin color, social and economic divisions, and on and on. Even the newly born church in the New Testament had to deal with this. Paul touched on this while instructing Timothy as seen in the passage shared today from 1 Timothy 2:1-7. The gospel once again provides the answer to this issue as it does for every other issue mankind has to deal with.
The early church was a mixture of races, cultures, social and economic diversity.
I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority... 1 Timothy 2:1-2
We are fighting battles with evil and injustice – yet, as Martin Luther King Jr. used to say, we fight with different weapons, the weapons of grace. As he said, you can pass laws to force a white man to serve a black man in a restaurant, but you can’t pass a law requiring the white man to love the black man. We have higher goals than politics, and you’ll never attain those goals through politics alone.
I get concerned when Christians see politics as the answer. Politics is an adversary sport in which you win by slandering your opponent. Jesus showed a different way: Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.
The early Christians faced a far more hostile environment in the Roman Empire than we do in the United States today. They set in motion a new community, pioneer settlements of the kingdom of God that could show the world a better way to be human. Tend to the sick, rescue the abandoned babies, free the slaves, love the oppressors, care for the poor – they lived in a new way, and the world took notice.
The truth is that we are all broken and sinful and are in desperate need of the saving grace of Jesus. The world needs to see the example of true Christian community where people of multiple cultural, ethnic, and economic backgrounds can come together in love and unity. That is how we live in a new way, and and that’s how the world will take notice.