Summary: Pursuing the priority of racial reconciliation and unity
We are continuing in our series this morning entitled HOLDING OUT HOPE IN A WOUNDED WORLD.
A series allowing us to face the critical social issues in our common lives and to discover how the Spirit of God is imparting to us a great opportunity; an opportunity to rise above the temptations of either passive resignation, or polarizing rhetoric, and instead prove to be, as Jesus was, salt to the earth and light in the world. I believe God wants to restore in our souls the confidence to be a people who are positively and profoundly distinctive.
This morning I invite us to consider further the opportunity to RECKON WITH RACIAL DIVISION.
Last week we saw that the Spirit of God has indeed set into motion what was intended from the beginning of creation; TO SEE ALL THAT GOD CREATED - EVERY TONGUE, TRIBE, AND NATION, UNITED BEFORE HIM. We saw that our unity amidst diversity is essential to glorifying God.
The priority of our unity is seen…
in the purpose and prayer of Jesus …that we be one;
in the power of Pentecost, when the Spirit first falls upon the church;
in the picture of eternity, given in Revelation, when we see every tongue, tribe, and nation – literally every ethnic group- in worship before God.
This is what the Spirit of God has purposed and is pursuing even now. Last week we began to see the healing at hand in relation to our heritage. Though often we try to forget it, we ARE a COVENANT PEOPLE, a nation founded upon covenants made before God to honor him and honor one another. Whenever we have allowed a particular people to be deceived, degraded, or culturally destroyed…any true restoration and reconciliation awaits our repentance.
God is showing us that we indeed have some unfinished business, some wounds left open. God is not calling us to reject our heritage as a nation, but to RENEW OUR HERITAGE. We are not to focus on our failures. That just leaves us spiritually depressed. Rather we are to recognize them so that we are no longer spiritually repressed. Through recognition and repentance there is freedom; healing for us all.
And in that healing we can RESTORE OUR DIGNITY AND HONOR both as individuals and as a nation. The ability to recognize both our honor and dishonor, our pain and our potential is what distinguished every great leader of change – from Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King. They were committed to change, not cynicism. Lincoln had the courage to call for freedom and Martin Luther King dared to declare a dream of equality.
With even greater interest in my own personal heritage I took some time this past week to sift through some records that had been compiled and passed on which trace my lineage and heritage through my fathers mother. It includes English, Irish, French, and German. I don’t know if I should feel like a masterpiece or a mutt!
Began with three brothers emigrating from England before 1643. My GGGGG Grandfather, James Sawyer served as a Major in the Revolutionary War and died in captivity on board a prison ship. He was married to a daughter or granddaughter of a Presbyterian pastor. My Great Grandfather left home when 8 or 9 …worked for a farmer…later became a State Senator of Illinois. “He liked to argue with ministers and to quote the Bible.” His wife’s parents, my great great great grand parents were pioneers in Illinois. In the absence of inns…Abraham Lincoln stayed at their place one night.
His own parents were Scotish Quakers and settled as wealthy families in Virginia. The mother was so opposed to slavery that despite her wealth she refused even a single house servant. Of the other parents family, it is said, the “outgrew slavery and became opposed to it.”
What captured me the most was this statement “they OUTGREW slavery.” Something changed within them.
This leads us to our focus this morning. THE HEALING OF OUR HEARTS.
Having focused last week on our past…our heritage, this week I want to focus on our present…our hearts.
When the Scriptures refer to our hearts, they are referring to more than our emotions; the heart is understood as our inner person, our disposition, the seat of our conviction, comprised of thoughts, feelings, and will.
This is where our approach to racial reconciliation can become so sensitive. We can agree that the injustice, discrimination, and demeaning associated with racism is wrong, but placing responsibility is proving more polarizing all the time.
Call me a racist…or simply imply it in any way, and I want to react. Such a label seems unfitting. I will feel you’ve judged me with a high crime and I want to prove my innocence…and in the process, judge you as well. WE BECOME ONLY FURTHER POLARIZED.