It all starts with Us and Them:
· we have one color of skin and they have another
· we come from this country and they come from another
· we think this way and they think that way
· we have our customs and they have theirs
· we have these foods and they have those foods
· we have this language and they have that language
then…Us and them leads to Racism – the belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority or inferiority of a particular race.
Unfortunately racism is alive in America… “I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust…We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.” Thurgood Marshall
Us and them becomes racism and it doesn’t take long for racism to morph into Dehumanization
· determination that another person or group of people is less human…less possessing the image of God
· divest and deprive individuals of human qualities
Dehumanization begins with refusing eye contact but it can grow…
· it grows into verbal abuse
· it escalates into denying someone basic human rights and dignity and treating a human like an animal
And ultimately dehumanization leads to genocide and murder
· When you see a person or group of people as less than human in your mind it becomes very easy to kill them…as easy as wiping out a colony of ants or infestation of rats
· in the last two centuries we’ve had our share of genocide
Russian genocide - 60 million deaths
Chinese genocide - 60 million deaths
Congolese genocide – 8 million deaths
Nazi Germany’s genocide - 11 million deaths
Japanese genocide of east Asia - 5 million deaths
Cambodian – 2 ½ million deaths
Rwandan- 800,000 deaths
Most recently Darfur/Sudan – 400,000 deaths
Oh…and America does not escape the carnage or responsibility - Americans contributed to one of the worst genocides in history - Atlantic slave trade (16th – 19th century) as many as 55 million deaths
You see it all starts with …us and them, moves to racism, escalates to dehumanization and culminates in genocide - This is the 4th Broken Place of the world
Through the month of October we have been exploring the source of the world’s brokenness … we’ve identified 6 Places where you can see this brokenness most clearly:
· Broken bodies, minds and spirits
· Next week – Isolation and loneliness
· Final week – Decay of the planet
· Today – Hatred that breeds racism and genocide
Why are we talking about this?
These broken places are our responsibility. This church and each of you is responsible for bringing healing to these 6 broken places! Together they constitute the Mission of God.
Ordinary followers of Jesus:
· address separation of humans from God by inviting others to follow Jesus
· engage in concrete ways to end injustice
· walk through doors to bring healing
· create loving community that will end isolation and loneliness
· and…lovingly care for this planet
But what about racism? What are we to do about it? What is our responsibility?
Let’s begin with basic morality … elementary Biblical ethics:
- You shall not murder. Exodus 20:13
- Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge…but love your neighbor as yourself. Leviticus 19:18
- Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5:44
- As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people. Galatians 6:10
- Do to others what you would have them do to you. Matthew 7:12
This is basic morality. If you do not or cannot live up to these moral imperatives of God then it is reasonable to conclude that you are not a follower of Jesus.
This is how we know we are in him. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 1 John 2:9
Confronting racism is not just about reactive morality but proactive engagement.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9
We must become peacemakers. Remember last week Ortberg suggested that compassion became the brand of Christianity early on. May I suggest that peacemaking should also be one of our brands of our faith.
If you claim to be a follower of Jesus then you should be known as a person who…
· sows peace and not divisiveness
· sows unity and not disunity
· sows openness and not skepticism
· sows inclusion and not exclusion
· sows oneness and not racism
If you are a racist …If you hold racist values… then please do not associate yourself with Jesus Christ…and please do not associate yourself with this church unless you are willing to repent and be healed.
Our brand is compassion and peacemaking.
So…what can we do to end racism? We can follow basic morality and we can adopt the posture of peacemakers but…I’m going to be honest…those aren’t enough.
Morality and peacemaking and good and necessary but they are not strong enough to dislodge racism from our lives, from our community, from our nation and from this church…
Let me show you something that is: Revelation 21:1
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (21:1-4)
· This is a picture of an ideal future…a picture of what God wants to see happen
· Through symbols and allegory we get an odd and wonderful picture of God’s mission accomplished , not just in the distant future but right now; not just a future longing but a present potential reality!
In this revelation we see existence in which:
Vs. 1 - the two realms (heaven and earth) are united. The veil lifted.
Vs. 1 no longer any sea (the realm of monsters) = evil and fear has been eradicated
Vs. 2 - God presence is clear and unmistakably among mankind (the Holy City)
Vs. 4 – the old order of things has passed away
o an old order that bred pain and suffering
o an old order that bred racism and hatred
This old order of hatred, murder and racism has been around nearly as long as mankind. You can see its development in the early parts of scripture
· Gen 4 - Cain and Abel
· Gen 6 – the earth was full of violence
· Genesis 11 – the tower of Babel … the picture of the beginning of multiple human bloodlines
· Genesis 21 – the separation of the half-brothers – Isaac and Ishmael (Jews and Arabs)
It goes on and on in biblical history and of course beyond to today
This old order of things is the current order of things. But, God envisions a day when that old order will pass away…and Vs. 5 begins to occur.. He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!"
What follows is a picture of the new order of things…again, not just a wistful longing for the distant future but a potential present reality.
Hop down to Verse 22…to see a picture of the new order of things:
I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
· Breathtaking picture of the world pulsing with the brilliant, blinding presence of God and the lamb – Jesus … so much light that there is no longer a need for the sun.
24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.
· we see a parade…a spectacle - all the races of the world coming together in one grand procession
· nation does not mean political, geographical confederation – it is the Greek word ethnos – race
I love the image created by Vs. 26- The glory and honor of all races will be brought together into the light of God
· glory = dignity
· honor = value
o the uniqueness of each culture
o the glorious skin tones from ebony to ivory
o the wonderful languages
o the unique histories
o the cultural narratives
o the songs, images, art, food, dance
All on parade as we God’s dream fulfilled. A dream that was echoed by Dr. Martin Luther King on August 28, 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
I have a dream that “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” Dr. Martin Luther King
That is mission accomplished. But let’s remind ourselves how it will come about.
· Certainly the work of the people of God doing the right thing, fulfilling the moral imperatives of our Father.
· And certainly by followers of Jesus determining to become peacemakers as we combat the old order of things.
But, again…that is not enough. Something more powerful must occur to heal this broken place of the world.
You can see this powerful thing in Vs. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. 1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Rev 21:27-22:4
If we want to destroy the power of hatred and racism then we all must have one name stamped on our foreheads.
VIDEO from the Office
To see the dream become reality the nations of mankind must be united into one bloodline.
· 21:27 - our names side by side in the Lambs book of life
· 22:4 - His name Jesus Christ – stamped on our hearts and foreheads.
Early on in this great revelation of God there is an enchanting ,mystical, startling look inside of the throne room of God. There we see fabulous creatures and 24 Elders encircling a alive but bloodied lamb. And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. Revelation 5:9
They sang of the gospel – the good news – of the atonement of Jesus for every human being.
The gospel of Jesus does not enter controversy as an ideology or philosophy for social improvement. It enters like dynamite. John Piper, Bloodlines
The gospel of Jesus is the only thing powerful enough to cause a social revolution like this:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:11
May I summarize this: The end of racism begins at the cross of Jesus Christ where all people can be united in one great bloodline of faith.
· one name on our foreheads
· one name in our hearts
· one bloodline turning us into brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ
Only that will totally eliminate hatred…only that will destroy racism…only that will put an end to genocide and murder and war.
So…yeah…what does it mean for us?
· yes, fulfill moral imperatives – love, forgive, care for others as you would have them care for you
· yes, take the posture of peacemakers
but in addition… we must become an invitational culture.
· Invite people to follow Jesus with you … take them to the cross…show them how to surrender to Him so that his name will be stamped on their foreheads.
· Invite people of all nations and races into your life – develop a multi-racial life
· Invite people into our church – continue our evolution of diversity
To this end I want you to know that for the past couple of years we have been exploring what it means to increase our diversity
· a diversity task force that focused on areas of – worship, communication, employment, and leadership
· right now our teams are working out the implications and our Gov board will soon join the discussion
In the mean time… let us all shoulder the responsibility of creating an invitational culture and in so doing help to see the mission of God accomplished in our life time.
God has a dream – all races united into one grand bloodline of the cross.
MLK had a dream of children walking together and united in love.
And I have a dream – that Grace Church will develop a reputation of being a Revelation 21 church…
…a loving, peacemaking, wildly diverse community united under one King
… his name on our foreheads, his mission on our hearts.