1593) God’s Truth in a Divided World (a)

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Charlottesville, Virginia, August 12, 2017

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By Scott Allen, posted August 19, 2017, at: http://www.wng.org

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On August 12th, a death in Charlottesville, Va., showed us the danger embedded in our current national divisiveness.  We have great need for the transforming truth that the Bible brings to bear not just on personal questions but on how to live together in a pluralistic country.  Scott Allen, president of the Disciple Nations Alliance, has seen societies abroad wrecked when one group of humans considers itself superior, or more highly evolved, than another.  Allen served with Food for the Hungry for 19 years and now lives in Phoenix with his wife Kim and their five children.  He is the author or co-author of several books, including Beyond the Sacred-Secular Divide and As the Family Goes, So Goes the Nation. —Marvin Olasky, editor of World magazine.

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     There is a reason for the increasing division, hostility, and violence we are seeing in America.  As a nation, we are abandoning Biblical truth in favor of toxic ideologies that, if left unchecked, will destroy us from the inside.

     Now, more than ever, the church must embody and champion those profound, transforming truths that have shaped our common life in America from our earliest days, enabling an amazingly diverse and pluralistic society to coexist in relative peace and unity.  These truths are all under sustained attack today.  A movement is afoot to discredit and replace them with dark and dangerous doctrines.  If the church merely stands by quietly while these truths are uprooted from our cultural soil, this nation will inevitably fragment into warring factions marked by bitterness, distrust, hatred, self-righteousness, and vengefulness.

     As the church, we are here to be salt and light.  We do that by living out and creatively championing powerful truths of God’s Kingdom that confront the lies shaping our culture today— truths that lead to human flourishing and social peace.  If we fail to do this, we lose our saltiness, the light diminishes, and we are no longer true to our calling to love our neighbors.

     There are three transforming truths that desperately need champions right now.

Transforming Truth No. 1: All Lives Matter

     The Bible places far more emphasis on what unites us as human beings than what divides us.  It focuses on what all people have in common, regardless of their race, sex, skin-color, stage of development, or relative wealth or poverty.  Consider:

  • God creates all people in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27-28).  Therefore, all people have inalienable dignity and incalculable worth.  Everyone has God-given rights to life and liberty.
  • All people have unique personalities, gifts, talents, and skills given by God to enable them to fulfill their God-given purpose of stewarding creation, causing it to flourish (Genesis 2:15).
  • All people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), yet God desires all people to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).
  • Jesus shed His precious blood for the redemption of all people.  Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10:13).
  • As followers of Jesus Christ, the dividing wall of hostility is torn down (Ephesians 2:14).  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
  • As followers of Jesus Christ, our commission is to make disciples of all peoples, all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
  • In the new heavens and new earth, people from every nation, tribe, and language will gather in jubilant adoration before the throne of Jesus (Revelation 7:9).

     Yes, we have differences.  Race, gender, age, and physical attributes are important parts of our human identity.  God delights in diversity.  He didn’t just create one kind of flower, or tree, or dog.  He didn’t merely create male— but male and female.  He rejoices in the vast diversity of His creation, including human diversity.  So should we.  We should celebrate it, but we should always, always, remember first what we have in common— what unifies us.  All of us are of God’s workmanship and bearers of His image.  All of us are precious in God’s sight.  He gave His one and only Son so that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).  This knowledge must shape our attitude toward every single person.   It is powerful, beautiful, and life-affirming.  It fosters peace, harmony, and social flourishing.

      God delights in diversity.  He didn’t just create one kind of flower, or tree, or dog.

     Here’s the powerful thing: The Biblical worldview affirms both unity and diversity.  Today, our postmodern culture values diversity, but not unity.  An idolatrous form of racialism or tribalism is on the rise.  Human identity is increasingly viewed through the lens of what are now called “identity groups” of race, gender, or sexual orientation.  It is increasingly common for people to preface comments by saying, “As a white, cisgender male,” or, “As a black lesbian female,” as if that somehow defines them.  “Diversity” has taken on an almost totemic significance, yet we are rapidly losing the ability to affirm what unites us.  That is what we desperately need today— a passionate assertion of what unites us as human beings.

     Only the Biblical worldview allows for this.  God created us all, and, therefore, all lives matter.  Don’t let yourself be shamed into thinking that asserting this is somehow insensitive or racist.  It is not.  It is a truthful, beautiful thing to say, and we need to keep saying it, and demonstrating it, boldly, creatively, and courageously each day, now more than ever.  (continued…)

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Ephesians 2:14-16  —  For he (Jesus) himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility...  His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.

Philippians 2:14-16a  —  Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of Godwithout fault in a warped and crooked generation.”  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.

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O God, who made us in your likeness, and who loves all whom you have made; teach us the unity of your family and the breadth of your love.  By the example of your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior, enable us, while loving and serving our own, to enter into the fellowship of the whole human family.  Forbid that, from any pride of race or hardness of heart, we should despise or injure anyone for whom he died.  In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

–Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal, Augsburg Publishing House, 1958, (#50), edited.