Relationships, Race & The Coming Kingdom pt. 3

This is less of a commentary on current socio-political events, and more of a biblical reflection on the nature of God, the dignity of the human soul, and the brokenness of the human heart.

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Renewing My Commitment [to Be An Ambassador of Reconciliation]
“When conflict happens, it’s an opportunity to bring healing – and for God to be glorified.”
– David M. Bailey

Rethink
When human beings attempt to ‘better ourselves’, due to our fallen nature, oftentimes it’s at the expense of others.  To operate with our own best interests at heart is our natural bent without the renewing work of God’s Word and His Spirit in our hearts.  This tendency, if unchecked, can even boastfully attempt to challenge God’s rightful rule over His creation.  We see this scenario throughout Scripture, and clearly demonstrated in the Genesis 11 Tower of Babel narrative.  Those building the tower said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” (vs. 4).  It’s no surprise that even our best motives can sour and turn inward “unless the LORD builds the house.” (Psalm 127).  

Even masterful attempts at unity in diversity can go askew if they’re not founded on the character and nature of God, and all He’s set into motion on our behalf.  We know that, “..God created man[kind] in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27).  Therefore, every person, of every tribe, nation and tongue has intrinsic value, worth and dignity which no one can erase.  And since Our Father is drawing all of humanity into one family through His Son Jesus Christ, He empowers us to live for the benefit and blessing of others, and our world, through His Word and Spirit within us.  

We see a clear demonstration of this when the Church (God’s family) was birthed in Acts 2.  In the book of Revelation we see that when the Church reaches full maturity it’s comprised of one people from “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9b-10).  This is true unity in diversity, and we’re invited to work toward that future reality now, in every sphere of our lives.

Read
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
“1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.  2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.  6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.  7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?  ..we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”  12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”– Acts 2:1-8, 11b-12, ESV

Reflect
A) Where there is strife and division in my own relationships, how can I invite the LORD who reconciles and redeems into those situations?  Am I following His lead? 

B)  When you’re made aware of injustices, oppression and hatred – wherever it exists – ask the Holy Spirit how you can follow His lead in these circumstances.  How might this make a difference?

C)  Where and in what ways might Jesus be leading you to birth His Kingdom “on earth as in Heaven”?  Are we inviting Him to do so?  In what concrete ways can you and I serve as agents of His love and truth in, and outside of, the Church?

Reframe
“Oh Spirit of God, you who turned the chaos of Babel into the harmony of Pentecost, we pray that you would take the many discordant parts of Christ’s Body today and make them one, so that a watching world may see and believe in the One who holds all things together.  Amen.”

“Spirit of the Living God, you who filled the first disciples with the life of Christ and set them aflame with the fire of God, we ask that you would fill us afresh with that same life and put a fire in our bones, so that we, in Jesus’ name, might preach good news to the poor, heal the broken-hearted, proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, and set the oppressed free.  In Christ’s name we pray.  Amen.”

’A Pentecost Prayer for Unity’ and ‘A Pentecost Prayer for Mission’ by Rev. Dr. W. David O. Taylorat http://artspastor.blogspot.com

[image credit: Clay Banks, Unsplash.com]

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