Summary: A look at being ministers of reconciliation with God’s help.
In an interview, Billy Graham was asked to pinpoint the world’s greatest social problem. Drawing from his 40-year experience of ministering in more than 100 countries around the world, Dr. Graham replied that the greatest social problem without question, is racism…. the unhealed wounds of racial injustice and animosity.
Indeed, neither lines nor legislation drawn up long ago, are proving an answer to the deep pain and prejudice felt in the heart of men and women throughout our world.
From Belfast to Bosnia,
From South Africa to Sri Lanka,
From Russia to Rwanda,
From Mexico to the Middle East…our settled world is proving very unsettled.
Needless to say, those of us living in this city need few reminders of how deep and wide this unhealed wound is. If America was indeed to be a melting pot of cultures, as it once envisioned itself to be, we as Los Angles would indeed be the prize pot of stew. But the vision has proved simplistic and the world is anxiously waiting for a new vision…a vision of hope.
The world is longing for a vision prepared to celebrate both our unity and diversity.
· A vision able to replace apprehension with appreciation.
· A vision that is more inspired than imposed.
· A vision that is more personal than political.
· A vision more redemptive than rhetorical.
Indeed this world is longing for the KINGDOM OF GOD …where every tongue, tribe, and nation would be as one before God. The GOOD NEWS is that Jesus didn’t come to impart the Kingdom of God as merely a new vision, but as a new reality.
…let us hear his prayer in John 17:
“I will remain in the world not longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name the name you gave me so that they may be one as we are one…. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:11, 20-21
Jesus prayed forth the very will of God; that all who would believe would be one; all who would forever be drawn to God’s revelation of new life through Christ…what He knew would include the unparalleled diversity of today. And what kind of oneness are we to discover?
> THE ONENESS HE HAS WITH THE FATHER;
A ONENESS IN WHICH WE LIKE THEM ARE UNITED YET UNIQUE; EQUAL YET DISTINCT. JESUS PRAYED, THAT IN ALL OUR DIVERSITY WE WOULD BE EQUAL AND UNITED BEFORE GOD.
The first thing this captures for us is:
1. THE POWER OF PENTECOST…which is the GLORY OF OUR UNITY.
In Pentecost we find that Jesus’ prayer for all to be united was set in motion by the Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit first comes to empower and fill the church, (which is known as Pentecost and recorded in chapter 2 of the Book of Acts), it says that it drew a crowd who represented every nation on earth and under heaven… and as the disciples were filled with the Spirit they began to speak in every language so that those from every nation could understand.
Later Paul described to the Corinthians that this type of gift of tongues was a “sign”. WHY A SIGN? BECAUSE IT REVEALS WHAT WAS ALWAYS MEANT TO BE AND ULTIMATELY WILL BE....PEOPLE FROM EVERY NATION UNITED IN GOD.
The Spirit has set in motion what God had first created.
God’s Word in Genesis establishes the very foundation of our unity. We have the same parents; though culturally diverse our lineage is the same. We are by God’s decree and biological fact ONE BLOOD, ONE PEOPLE, and ONE HUMAN RACE
Here is where SECULAR THOUGHT HAS SOWN A DEHUMANIZING TREND…not by recognizing a process of evolution, but by devaluing our common origin, and emphasizing our “survival of the fittest” development as progressive. Such secular thought provides the basis for nothing more than the acceptance of our animal-like animosities.
But God’s Word, in contrast, describes our animosities as resulting from the Fall…from our separation from our common Creator. Immediately after the depiction of the fall of Adam and Eve we are told of CAIN RISING UP AGAINST HIS BROTHER ABEL. Immediately there is the loss of a bothers care for brother…of sibling rivalry, and it spreads like wildflower until today.
IT IS PRECISELY THIS SEPARATION FROM GOD AND SUBSEQUENT SEPARATION FROM ONE ANOTHER THAT JESUS CAME FROM HEAVEN TO DESTROY.
As Jesus declared in Mark 11:7: “My Fathers house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” The Greek word translated “nations” = “ethnos” = all ethnic groups.