Tags

, , , , , ,

imagesI love my church.

I love the people of my church.

My church is not a perfect church.

My church is a place of love, truth, and grace.

You would love my church too.

Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching in our morning services. Before the sermon, I also had the privilege of giving a few thoughts related to the recent national shootings. My brothers and sisters in Christ responded with grace.

The statement is below. The “humiliation and exaltation” line references the Westminster Shorter Catechism, questions 23 – 28:

23. What offices does Christ fill as our Redeemer?

Christ as our Redeemer fills the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, in his states both of humiliation and exaltation.

27. In what did Christ’s humiliation consist?

Christ’s humiliation consisted in being born, and that in a poor circumstance; in being subject to God’s law; in undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath of God and the curse of death on the cross; in being buried; and in continuing under the power of death for a time.

28. In what does Christ’s exaltation consist?

Christ’s exaltation consists in his rising again from the dead on the third day; in ascending into heaven; in sitting at the right hand of God the Father; and in coming to judge the world at the last day.

The WSC is Christ-centered. It helps us think Gospel thoughts about life.

Did I mention that I love my church? Please come join me there in worship on Sunday.

Thank you, church family, for seeking Christ on this issues before us, and for helping me to do the same.

__________________

Good morning.

What a joy and gracious opportunity I have to stand before you today, in the place where Pastor Todd faithfully shepherds us through the word of God. With his coming absence today, yesterday afternoon Pastor Todd sent me a text to ask if I had plans to speak to the national events of this past week. I replied by saying that I had prepared a few lines, to which he replied, “Feel free to make more than a small mention.” I am grateful for his concern. Yet understand that what I say does not replace the things he must say to us with the authority of the Pastor.

Yes, I am concerned about what could happen if I am pulled over for a traffic violation, if I mistakenly am confronted by a local officer, or if Pam or my children somehow cross the path of local law enforcement suspiciously for any reason. We each had incidents this week where race played a factor in how people responded to us as strangers. Pam and I are cautioning everyone with extra cautions as they go out the door each day. It is unfortunate, but that is a reality for us, and many African Americans share our concerns and cautions.

It is true that all lives matter because we each bear the image of God. Black lives matter, blue lives matter, LGBT lives matter, Middle Eastern, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist lives matter, and unborn lives matter. We should not minimize the significance of the events in Dallas, Orlando, Baton Rouge, and St. Paul by generalizing issues when specific groups are the objects of hate. That is not piety; it is avoidance, and it is insensitive to the injustice, hatred, and lack of support felt by the groups experiencing very real threats, fears, and deaths. Loving our neighbors with the love of Christ allows us to give strong support to each cause for justice with patience and kindness, without envy, rudeness, or arrogance, without rejoicing in others’ wrongdoings, and while rejoicing in truth.

Finally, the Gospel, with all of its ramifications and demands for God’s people, is the solution. It is the death and resurrection of Christ that moves us to love; it is his humiliation and exaltation that makes us take inventory of our own racism, bigotry, and anarchy. His suffering in our place provides God with empathy in all of our pains; and his defeat of death shows he has the power to change hearts—power to overcome the sin of hatred in every person. The Gospel does not deny the need for protest and calls for justice, but should fuel them with holiness through the presence of the people of God. Each one of us must be bold in proclaiming the Gospel.

If the Gospel did not make all of the difference, quite possibly I would be making these statements at Calvary Baptist Church or Kendrick Memorial Baptist Church this morning rather than among you, my brothers and my sisters, at Calvary Memorial Church; and many of you would not be thinking of how we can work harder to make Calvary Memorial Church a place where our worship and ministries show that all lives matter.

July 11, 2016 at Calvary Memorial Church, Oak Park, IL