Results tagged “pray” from Reformation21 Blog

White Faces: It's What I See

I plead with you to help. In my opinion it is a matter for which we must fight. If we do not, things will remain the same. Do not get me wrong, consistency is good, but not in this case.

White faces: it's what I see.

We are upon that time of year when reformed denominations meet for general assembly (or synod). It is a time of prayer, preaching, pondering, ruling, shared memories, and fellowship. While there are many blessings that result from these gatherings, there is something that largely goes unnoticed, and it grieves my heart.

White faces: it's what I see.

Word travels quickly. What happens at G.A. (or synod) spreads across the internet. Check Facebook or Twitter and you will be sure to find links to recent decisions. What you will also discover, as you keep up with current rulings, is selfies and group photos. It is the latter on which I desire to briefly focus.

White faces: it's what I see.

Some might accuse me of being the resident Reformation 21 black guy who always writes about issues related to ethnicity/race. Statistically that is untrue. Of the 42 (now 43) blog posts, only 9, though perhaps 11, are about ethnic and/or cultural issues. I could choose to write about sanctification, the role of good works in the life of a Christian, or justification, but those extremely important topics are already being discussed on this blog. Yes, there are many other topics about which I can write, and I do, but among many, I choose this one. How can I not? It bothers me because...

White faces: it's what I see.

Please do not tell me to go elsewhere. (I have seen that on blogs). Please do not tell me to join another denomination. (People have told me that, too). Please do note tell me I am writing to burden you with white guilt. I am not, nor am I writing to somehow explicitly or implicitly suggest that I have a problem with white people. If the roles of Jerry Maguire were reversed, I could easily and happily exclaim, "I love white people!" However, despite my love for my white brothers and sisters in Christ, what I do desire is change. When I look at the group photos from G.A. or synod, the majority of the faces are white. Despite some people suggesting, as it relates to ethnicity, they are colorblind, I am not. I see you. You see me.

White faces: it's what I see.

There is more to the Church than the color of one's skin. I am not naive. But when I see group photos from these gatherings along with the customary caption, "A Taste of Heaven," I cannot help but exclaim, "That is a lie!" What will heaven be like visually?

"And they sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth'" (Rev. 5:9-10).

In heaven white faces will not be all I see, but I do not want to wait until then. Reformed churches have the best orthodoxy and orthopraxy. We have what both believers and unbelievers need. I am not Pentecostal. I am not General Baptist nor am I Methodist. While I believe people from these denominations (or categories) are brothers and sisters in the Lord, I am Presbyterian for a reason. I believe we have what most accurately reflects the truths embedded within scripture. Therefore, I want to see all peoples embrace what I have come to believe is accurate according to the scriptures. I believe this is possible, and I hope it will more greatly occur in my lifetime. 

What can we do about this? Put differently, what can we do about this for God's glory? How can we "make" our churches more accurately reflect the communities in which they are? 

I have one simple request.

Pray! Pray that God would burden our hearts to see this change take place. Pray that God would also begin to equip us to want to do something about it. Is that simple enough? I hope you will pray to that end, and if after a season of prayer, you want to talk to me about how to implement your desires toward this end, I would love to hear your ideas. I am not the expert on all things "ethnic," but if I cannot provide a biblical and reasonable way to help you, I can direct you to someone who can.

I Love President Barack Obama, but...

Facebook is an interesting utensil. People use it for all sorts of things (e.g., advertising, spying, networking). If you spend even the slightly amount of time there, you can also get a sense of what matters to people. Some highly value their family. Every other post is a picture of their child or their latest family vacation. Others use it as a means to argue about doctrine. In certain discussion rooms, it seems that every other post is about baptism or church polity. 

Along with the aforementioned, you further get a sense of who is politically inclined. Of course we should all be concerned about what is occurring in the government, both locally and nationally, but not everyone knows the particulars to same extent. However, what is interesting is regardless of the degree to which one knows how the US government functions and how policies are employed, almost everyone has something to say about President Barack Obama. Fox News' posts and certain underground websites' posts go viral over the President's desires. The Affordable Care Act and abortion are a couple of the latest controversies.

Over the years, however, I have refrained from entering most of the conversations on Facebook about the President. Like any form of online communication, it is too easy to be misunderstood. Perhaps I have waited too long. They say, "Timing is everything." Now, I have something to say. Here it is: "I love President Barack Obama and I pray for him."

It seems fair to suggest that many of us, who were raised in the US, were taught to fight for those things in which we believe. "Stand up for your beliefs!" "Find others who are like-minded and fight! Protest! Get others to sign petitions! Do what is right despite what others believe!" If that is not how many of us were raised, Facebook tells a different story. People have no problem telling you what they believe.

"The Affordable Care Act is not so affordable," they say. "We should impeach the President," some believe. "He really isn't American," they post. "The President is a Muslim," a minority suggest. 

Are these claims and suggestions true? You probably have an opinion. You may have even posted your thoughts on Facebook already. Thankfully, in this nation, we have "some" freedom to express ourselves, but in our expressions we should be balanced. "We" in the previous sentence could mean "everyone." As image bearers of God, we should all maintain balance in our comments, but for the purposes of this blog I am particularly interested in Christians.

Regardless of where you find yourself on the theological spectrum (i.e., reformed or reforming), your theology requires balance. Listen to a fundamentalist sermon that is all law and no gospel and you'll soon realize why we need balance. The law is good. It reveals our sin, points us to Christ, and directs our steps, but without the gracious gospel, we are in a desperate predicament. 

Similarly, when we make comments about the President (and anyone else for that matter), we should, likewise, attempt to be balanced. Most of the posts I read on Facebook, however, are far from balanced. You are entitled to your opinion. Please don't misunderstand me. I have my thoughts on the institution of certain policies, too. I have to remind myself to be balanced, though.

Jesus calls us to love (and pray).

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:43-48).

Paul calls us to pray.

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way" (1 Tim. 2:1-2).

Yes, stand up for those things in which you believe. On many of them, I would probably stand beside you. But I hope, along with standing for what you believe, you can also, by the grace of God, obey your Lord. He tells you to love (and pray). By the inspiration of the Spirit, Paul also tells you to pray. 

Do you?

I understand. I can't read your heart. I don't know your motives. I'm not with you 24-hours a day. You may love the President as an image-bearer of God and pray a great deal, but my perception is something different. As you know, perception can be a gateway to reality. If all you did was write your wife letters criticizing her activities, she might begin to wonder if you really love her. A husband can respond all day long, "Of course I love you," but the portrayal reflects the contrary. As Christians, we must love everyone and pray for them. That includes President Barack Obama. 

I know you desire to see things change. You were likely taught that speaking out on things can lead to change. I was taught the same thing. Yet, while I know lifting our voices in one accord can lead to change, love and prayer can lead to change, too. I'm not naive. Love is not void of correction, but it is definitely much more than correction. 

I'm sure many people want me to say, "I love President Barack Obama, but..." (fill in the blank; lists all your disagreements about his policies). I'm not going to say that. I'm going to say, "I love President Barack Obama, and..."

"...and I pray for him."

Will you love President Barack Obama and pray for him, too. Will you allow your Facebook posts to reflect that love and heart of prayer? People are watching, and you may be providing a perception that is contrary to your heart's desire.