I wish I could just leave things where they lay in my last Update, but to truly begin to heal the wounds in our country -- and in our world -- our work needs to be an ongoing activity. It’s just such an up-hill battle sometimes...
People in Greece (and a lot of people here in Illinois) are tired of their government cutting programs while simultaneously raising taxes. I totally get that. But I also remember what my own family had to do in order to get out of debt years ago -- we worked harder to make more money, while simultaneously working harder to spend less of it, just like Greece and Illinois are having to do. You can’t just declare that a problem is over, simply because you’re tired of living with it, or because you don’t want to keep working on it.
The same is true with our culture at large. We are hyper-sensitive to just about everything right now, whether that’s racism, gay marriage, presidential candidates, or any other political hot-button topic, and we keep expecting that X action or Y decision will solve the problems at hand and reduce the tension. But so long as the tension is ultimately that we as a nation are poised and ready to be offended at the drop of a hat (and to react badly when we are offended), then nothing will improve -- even if we really, really want it all to go away. Right now, if someone disagrees with someone else, then tempers flare, emotive labels are flung around, and relationships are damaged. Is that what truly honors God?
This Thursday, the Wynns will be hosting a conversation at their home for FCCers to be able to sit down together and share -- really share -- about relating to one another across racial boundaries, so that we can honestly work toward breaking down those boundaries altogether. Please keep that conversation in your prayers. We need to actively remind ourselves and one another that, in Christ, there is no Jew or Greek, no black or white, no male or female. We’re all just family... or people whom we hope will become family.
We chatted about that in our message this week, as we continued through Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. After chastising the Jews last week for zealously trying to earn salvation through their own self-righteousness, he then turned around in chapter 11 to chastise the Gentiles for functionally doing the very same thing. See, where traditional Judaism had too often devolved into just doing the rituals and following the traditions and calling themselves “good” for doing so, the Gentiles had begun to think that they were obviously much more righteous than the Jews because they didn’t do those things... and called themselves “good” for doing so.
But Paul reminds all of us that God hadn’t rejected the Jews by any means -- and neither should anyone else. God wishes for Jews and Greeks and Russians and Americans and Arabs and every culture to be redeemed and be brought back into relationship with Him, through the blood of Jesus Christ and His self-sacrifice on our behalf. No one is too far gone to be forgiven, and no one is so perfect that they don’t need to keep working on living that salvation out every day of their lives. We need to live like hungry beggars who know where everyone can find food, like wounded sinners who know where everyone can find forgiveness, and we need to stop living like we’re at war with one another. The only thing that we’re at war with is the sin that’s poisoning everyone on this planet, not our fellow sinners who have been poisoned just like we have.
So though Christ’s sacrifice was a one-time action that Jesus doesn’t need to keep doing over and over again on our behalf, we nonetheless need to live that grace out longitudinally, every day, in every interaction. We can’t be ambassadors only on Sundays, or if we only huddle in our embassies and refuse to interact with or love a world that seems so alien to our own. We need to keep investing God’s grace into all of our conversations, into all of our relationships, rather than simply preaching our own, personal, political lines and calling ourselves “good” for doing so.
You can’t just declare that a problem is over, simply because you’re tired of living with it, or because you don’t want to keep working on it. We need to roll up our sleeves and keep working at living like the Christians that Jesus died to help us become.