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A Plea for Unity Around the Gospel (from July 10)

July 10, 2016

RCB Family,

This has been a week filled with turmoil and grieving for me. It’s been a hard week - my mind has been racing, my thoughts have been difficult to collect as I’ve grieved over our nation and what’s been taking place.

After spending July 4 evening at the hospital with one of our families, I crashed that night having no idea what the next day would bring. The day after celebrating our nation’s independence, my heart was broken when I saw the Alton Sterling video. Before I even had time to finish processing what transpired, I then received news about Philando Castile in Minnesota. My heart sank even more. Then on Thursday, I watched as a gunman shot 11 officers, killing five of them in Dallas (close to home), and the weight of it all has been too much.

Church family, I want to remind you this morning that we are ALL created in the image of God. God values life. Life is precious, but sadly we live in a nation that doesn’t value life. And in the midst of everything, you’ve got the media and plenty of folks saying you must pick a side:

The Caucasians or the African Americans
Police officers or the African Americans
Black Lives Matters or All Lives Matter

I could keep going, but this morning I want to challenge and encourage you all to keep the Gospel at the forefront.

Pick the side of Jesus.
Pick the Good News that Jesus pours out his grace on and he saves broken people.
Choose to LOVE. It’s what our nation needs the most right now.

No, we cannot downplay some of the systemic racial issues and the tensions that exist. We can’t ignore them, and now is not the time to be silent about them either.

Restoration Church Bryan WILL BE a gospel-centered, disciple-making, multiracial church! But BECAUSE we will be multiracial, we don’t just draw up lines and divide.

We come together.
We have tough conversations.
We’re honest. We listen.
We learn.

The issues are complex and we ALL bring baggage to the conversation - it’s not just one-sided. Don’t forget how Satan operates! He would love nothing more than to see us draw up those battle lines. He wants to see our communities and churches divided and at war with one another. We must be aware of his schemes! 1 John 2:9 reminds us that “whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” The Lord also reminds us in Scripture that “vengeance belongs to him.” We don’t repay evil for evil. We cannot turn a blind eye to things that need to change, but hate and violence are the weapons of the Enemy.

Church family, we will be diverse, but we will be unified in Christ. We will not ignore differences, but it’s not those differences that define us. We are defined by our identity in Christ! As a church, we must rally from here and grow stronger, not weaker.

The light of the Church has never been more needed in a dark time.

John 13:35: The defining mark of Christ-followers MUST BE our love for one another. Let’s examine our hearts and ask: In our response: Are we loving one another well? Are we listening well? Are we grieving with those who grieve? Are we on our knees in prayer? I’ve spoken with African American pastors, with dear friends in the African American community. Y’all, they are grieving. They are upset and fearful. I grieve with them. And you know what? I grieve for those officers and their families in Dallas.

Let’s lift these families up this morning and confess that only the gospel of Jesus is sufficient to heal us, our families & our nation.