2020 has been the year of interesting times.
As we approached June, I was hopeful that things would start to shift back to something less interesting.
However, on May 25th, George Floyd was killed.
Suddenly, people all over the country were in protest.
Even our small town of Warrensburg has had its own demonstrations and peaceful protests.
What to do about racism and injustice in our world is at the forefront of the hearts and minds of people everywhere.
While the world looks for its own solutions, I have spent the last few weeks considering the church’s response to the problem.
As a minister I have largely ignored addressing this topic.
This is not because the topic is not important (indeed it is very important), but I have known for a long time no topic is more important than the one I preach: the gospel.
To find an answer, I came across a letter written by MLK to a group of black preachers.
In the letter he was concerned about their response and the white moderate’s response to the civil rights movement.
His concern is they were taking no side, preferring to stay out of it.
MLK was right, we cannot ignore the issue.
However, the reason MLK’s work is still unfinished is because it largely focused on equal rights under the law.
There it was a huge success.
The reason we still have problems today is because people have not changed their hearts.
This is where the church’s real response is to social injustice in the world: to transform hearts and minds to the one pure of heart and mind.
To be a Christian means to be in the mindset of Christ (Philippians 2:5-11).
In Christ there is no injustice, brokenness, hatred, racism or bigotry.
In Christ we are not Jew, Gentile, slave, nor-free (Galatians 3:28), black, white, man or woman.
We have one identifier: Christian.
We treat other people the way Christ commanded us to treat them: with love, compassion and respect.
What does this mean?
It means only a solution can be found in Christ.
It means we need to continue our message as Christians by going into the world and sharing the good news (Matthew 28).
It also means that we need to call out racist, bigoted and hateful behavior among us who are claiming to be in Christ.
Just as Christ criticized the Pharisees as being white-washed tombs (Matthew 23:27-28), we cannot be made good by God if neither the outside nor the inside does not change.
However, it does not stop there.
You cannot be a Christian if you refuse to resolve conflict.
In Matthew 5:22, Jesus shows us how important reconciliation is by telling the crowd to reconcile with your brother before coming to God.
Paul writes in Romans that you cannot be a Christian if you repay evil for evil (Romans: 12:17-18).
John is the harshest critic on how you cannot wear Christianity like a robe.
In 1 John he says if we lie and do not practice the truth, we have no fellowship with him (1 John 1:6).
If we hate our brother, we walk in darkness (1 John 2:11).
If anyone says “I love God” but hates his brother is a liar (1 John 4:20).
John is clear.
If these evils exist in your heart, you are not a Christian.
As we grow in Christ, it is important to help others grow as well.
This means realizing our shortcomings.
Matthew 18 has an approach to helping others as well.
Therefore, to help us improve our walk with God and address our spiritual shortcomings, the Warrensburg Church of Christ has invited Leon Stewart to speak to us on July 12.
Stewart a brother in Christ who is black.
I am very fortunate that I get to call him friend.
Though not famous or well-known, Stewart knows what it means to be in the mindset of Christ, and he has often done that at a disadvantage of his skin color.
I hope all of you reading this can join us that day to hear what he has to say.
You are most welcome here.