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Racism - An Opportunity

Steven Grabiner

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Steven Grabiner

President, Outpost Centers International

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  • July 16, 2016
    11:30 AM
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Good question. Good questions for those of you that might not have heard the question in the Book of Daniel Daniel two is a prophecy that talks about the inability of European nations to become strongly together like they had in the past they shall not cleave one to another and so you know is Britain leaving the E.U. a sign of that. Well I guess we'll have to wait and see how it unfolds. I'm not sure it's a fulfillment of prophecy but. You know one of the things about prophecy is that we can look back and say you know that was a marker Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John John Chapter fourteen that I've told you what is going to come to pass so that no when it is come to pass you may you may believe so. Sometimes there is a back looking side of that but that's a good question that a lot of friends that were asking the same question and also of course in relation to the rise of radical Islam today. The terrible thing that happened in eastern France and all that's going on. Where is all that fit into prophecy. I know that many of us here interested in that. I want to shift slightly from their prophetic. And take Doc to do cons recommendation say you know we need to also think about the wisdom literature and scripture or what does it mean to me personally. How am I going to relate to that. And as my topic this morning is racism question mark an opportunity opportunity question mark. If we can sense in this country and a great. Uncomfortable ness of the relations between races and let's just think recently of course it's no secret to any of us. The tremendous tragedy that took place in Dallas where five police officers were mercilessly gunned down protecting protesters and the individual that did that. You know was motivated by racism he was intentionally targeting these five police officers down tremendous loss because you don't know any of their names their names and the impact of that tragedy was in Dallas. You know draw a number of disparate aspects of the community together. Certainly bringing the. Police community together in a very large way and President Obama went down and gave what I thought was a very good speech talking about how as a nation we need to come together. So there's a opportunity in the midst of trial. Of course if we think about this. We don't also want to neglect that over the past several years due to the proliferation of cell phones and video cameras the recording of African-Americans who have been killed by police officers whether justly unjustly. We could argue in certain cases some of the cases are quite clearly unjust I would say. But again tremendous tragedy taking place particularly the last African-American philanderer Castiel who was shot in a car reaching for his license said he had a at a gun with him but of course the the tensions there and it up with him being on necessarily kill. His funeral thousand people came out for his funeral as well. And so you know as individuals as as United States citizens as Christians as Seventh-Day Adventist Christians. How do we respond What's the opportunity for us to relate to these kinds of tragedies. That's where wisdom literature comes out in scripture and of course in our Bible study earlier this morning. What will we study. And what he was like Sabbath. Good morning. What was the topic. Justice and Mercy and the emphasis of the the lesson was on what. OK balance. But what else did less than bring out people in the very first few days of the last. Ministry that also brought out God's intention for there to be justice in this world. And that God wanted his people to be engaged in justice as well. So if you have your Bibles turn with me to a fusions chapter three visions chapter three. And again I believe this is perhaps a timely measure message fifty years after the Civil Rights Movement is finished one hundred fifty years after slavery very vicious war was fought to end slavery. There still are great divide in this country and those divides do not stir. The Church. Someone has said that and the. I forgot who it was. Maybe was Philip Yancey but he said Sunday morning is the most segregated morning. In all of the United States and he's talking about churches gathering on Sunday morning. Of course but even churches even communities of believers sometimes haven't gotten over the racial divide. So is it an opportunity for US officials chapter three again our scripture reading starting in verse eight and we're going to come back we're going to look a little bit more detail in a fish and chapter two. But Paul says a fusion is chapter three starting in verse eight To me the least of all saints grace was given to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ. And to bring to light. What is the administration of the mystery. Which for ages has been hidden God. Who created all things verse ten. So that or in order that. The manifold wisdom of God. My narrow. Be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places now. Did you catch that point there. What is to be made known. There is a Texan. Whose wisdom. God's wisdom and what kind of wisdom. That manifold diverse many sided wisdom of God is to be made known to whom. To whom. OK To the universe to the prince valleys and powers youth or it is in heavenly places and what's the vehicle for making that wisdom know. The church the group of believers that meet wherever they are God's Intention is through our relations one with another he is revealing something and he's revealing his wisdom but think about it you know we all come from very different backgrounds from. Economic backgrounds social backgrounds and yet God's intention is that somehow the gospel the grace of Christ would make the changes necessary in your heart and mine so that we really get along with one another and that God's Grace begins to show what is his wisdom and how God works in the universe and the proving ground for that is you and me and so here is this tremendous opportunity. In a country know a world that is being fractured by violence fight terrorism by uncertainty all over the place to say you know huge here. Is a beacon of stability. Here is a place of hope. Here's a place where lives are really being changed. And those tensions that divide us are being obliterated. Do you think that's an opportunity for us. I would say that there is a division in this country. Oftentimes division in our lives in our families and that division that working with the adversaries working Division is trying to divide us all into different camps is what are some of those camps. What are some of those camps. Well we're in a political year. So what are some of those camps. OK Democrat Republican you know. There's a dividing line. What else. Conservative or Liberal or libertarian or progressive or what else. Economic levels wealthy wealthy wealthy not so wealthy less wealthy all sorts of divisions. Regional conferences in our church. The division of OK we're going to have. The how do you describe them. Regional conferences or regional conferences for anybody that may not know our conferences that are largely operated by African-Americans and the no longer regional conferences. More largely in the leadership are non African-Americans not entirely so but why do they exist at this point in Earth's history. You know. Well there's probably reasons that people would argue. Because of the hard. Most of our hearts because somehow we really haven't let or understood the truth of this text to really come in and say OK here's an opportunity in our fractured world again to have an island of peace where people of all different social economic backgrounds and educational backgrounds and racial backgrounds are able to come together but that is part of the purpose of the gospel. That's what Paul is telling us particularly in this letter of officials will come to that in a moment. Let's go back and think a little bit because sometimes we think that some of these issues are just firsts just for our day but they weren't back in the writing of the the time of the New Testament. John chapter four verse nine tells us that the Jews had no dealings with the. Samaritans that was a racial divide in fact in the first century of the Common Era really the Jews looked at the world as everybody was divided into two camps. You were Jewish. And you were a gentile That was the two big racial groups you were either part of a chosen people class that was a blessing to be part of the chosen people and or you weren't from their perspective. And that created racial divisions or separation you and I are in the same danger by the way. Of dividing the world into two camps and those two camps are. What saved in the last they could be one thing a little bit more specific us and them whoever us are and thus can be as small or as large as our particular sphere. And when we divide the world between us and them again we're creating divisions. But it wasn't only the Jews didn't have a monopoly on this. The Greeks divided the world as well. The Greeks divided the world into barbarians and Scythians and non Greeks Jews in fact Aristotle said it is reasonable for Greeks to rule barbarians. But not for barbarians to rule Greeks of course you know that's an Us and Them. It's good for us to have a position of power and privilege but not through. Them whoever them are in your thinking in my thinking. This is a condition not of time not of geography. This is a condition of the human heart. This is a condition that you and I have and it's part of the gospel to really order our thinking. Now part of the biggest problem with that is we really don't think there's anything to be reordered the F.. We're in the US group. It's only when you're in the Them group. Do you feel that something needs to be changed. And there's our great dilemma there's our great what opportunity. Great opportunity. So let's think momentarily. Both of the actions of Christ and the teachings of Christ and I've given you a number of Bible verses we will look each one up but certainly we could see in the actions of Jesus did he show any prejudice prejudicial actions in his life. Yes or no. No of course not. He welcomed everybody he ministered to all different kinds of races. He received everyone that was one of the accusations Luke Chapter fifteen verses one in two you know that we that's what the. Critique of him was that he wasn't exclusive enough. That he was welcome in everybody. Aren't you glad that there's somebody in the world that welcomes in everybody. Because that includes who. Have includes you that includes me whether somebody that includes everybody you know. X. ten verse thirty four. Peter when he saw that vision that he was supposed to go to the Gentiles and preach them to the Gospel His conclusion was I understand that God is what. What is God. No respect or of persons. It's one of our great issues that we are respect as of people. And and why how that respect or how that stratification takes place. Depends a lot on us our and our upbringing and what we're focusing on but one of our greatest curses is that we are respect years of people. Where they're getting their background economics whatever it is. And really the Gospels calling us to be no respecter of persons to be inclusive to be drawing Why because that's what God did with the entire world. But not only the actions of Christ we find the teachings of Christ drive us in this direction as well first of all Jesus said that if he were to be lifted up if he were to be crucified. How many would be drawn to him all that is told all inclusion all would be drawn to him. John four when he's talking to the woman at the well in Syria Samaritan woman he clearly says that we are all from one family. We have one Creator and the things that divide us are far more superficial than the things that bring us together which is our great need of his compassion and many Colossians three turn with me if you will clash in chapter three just thought this was a great verse and then. We'll come right back to the fusion flushes chapter three. Starting in verse eight three starting in verse eight. But now you also put them all aside here's here's the Apostle Paul trying to tell us how to live as individuals who really believe what the Scriptures tell us about God's love for us. How should we live. But you. But now you also put all put them all aside anger wrath malice slander abuse of speech from your mouth verse nine. Do not line to one another since you have laid aside the old self with its evil practices verse ten. And have put on the new self who is being renewed to achieve knowledge according to the image of the one you created him versa Levon. Are renewal in which there is. Neither what. Great nor Jew What else circumcise neurons learn certain signs what else. Barbarian city you say free man. But Christ is all in all. What's kind of rephrase that are renewal in which there is no distinction between between what. Democrat Republican. Thank you. Conservative and Liberal. Well educated and not so well educated that there is no difference between Hispanic African-American Chinese Korean Asian South course there are differences but what is Paul trying to tell us. That Christ is to be the All and all. And that every person you and I look at we should be. Thinking that person is a son or daughter of the God of the universe. That should be the imprint upon us. And maybe they've had better blessings than I that maybe they've had more wealth or education and I've had or greater opportunities Well I'm not going to hold that against them. Or maybe they haven't had what I had not going to hold that against them either. But either way I'm going to recognize that here is an opportunity for me to demonstrate that really here is power in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that power can so change my natural inborn cultivated prejudices that I stop prejudging other people. Based on anything because really that's not my role. The worshipping community. I was going to save the church but when I see the church. Most of you think of what. OK most of you think of the administers. But what else do you think of. OK organization what you guys are good your thinking organization people I thought you would say. Building. Most the time wrong going to church that means I am coming to a building to a place where really the church is Jesus said of two or three are gathered together there you. I am in the mess. And so on us as believers as a worshipping community where ever we are needs to be a place in which racial divisions are here. You and I need to be the church in our community a place where racial divisions are healed. That's the opportunity for us at this point in time and let's include political divisions now we may not agree on politics all the time. And probably it's very unlikely that we agree a high. Underage of the time. All of us. But there's something that transcends that isn't there. Paul says that Christ should be. All in all. So there's an opportunity for us as a group. But the opportunity goes deeper. Let's go back to a fusions Chapter two seasons chapter two. Such as returning their officials to let me say this that anybody who claims to have experienced salvation. Should not cannot really maintain an attitude of prejudice toward anyone else. If you and I understand the truth of the gospel. We will not cherish or maintain an attitude of prejudice because the gospel teaches us. We're all sinners saved by grace. And your type of sin may be different than mine but we are all in. Now the challenge my friend is where the opportunity perhaps is prejudice really dead in your hearts and minds or is it still there on different levels that the Gospel needs to go deeper or our appreciation of what God has done needs to go deeper. A fusion chapter two. So when Paul wrote a fusion is there was a big racial divide and it was between Gentiles and Jews that's a pretty simplistic view of it. That's the way it was Gentiles and Jews and circumcised and circumcised. According to the circumcised recording to be the descendants of Abraham according to scriptures they were the children people and everybody else. According to their understanding was not chosen. Is not a dangerous kind of a mental position to have your chosen and ready. Else isn't of course it just could breed a natural superiority and unfortunately that natural superiority began to grow and there were these huge divisions you could eat with the Gentiles they weren't allowed in the temple there are great divides but Paul tells us in the fusions to how the Gospel worked to tear down this prejudice. Let's notice fusions Chapter two starting in verse thirteen physicians two starting in verse thirteen. Sorry. Let's start back in verse twelve. Paul Fels he's speaking to the Gentiles and he says remember that at that time you were separate from Christ. You were Xclusive it from the commonwealth of Israel strangers to the covenant of promise having no hope and without God in the world. That's a very bleak place to be a man without God and no hope. Verse thirteen one of the two words first two words one of those two words but now all in Christ Jesus you who are far off have been brought. What you've been brought to New Year by the blood of Christ. The division is bridge you were far off. You were executed. You were without hope. But now you are what you are brought near out so in other words and continuing rather in verse fourteen. For himself. Speaking of Christ is our peace who have made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall. So what separated. Jews from Gentiles would separated the nations this racial divide has been what. It's been broken down. It's gone. Are you trying to rebuild it. With Somebody. Are you trying to say hey you know I don't like this whole idea that I'm supposed. Really look at everybody as my brother or sister. Let me rebuild this dividing wall. It's been broken down through the death of Jesus Christ and we need to recognize that. As believers we need to be demonstrating that evidence. Paul continues a little bit further. This is all great news for us. Isn't it. By the way we have a real difficulty here because you're all mostly all of you. Anyway except my family in the back row are Gentiles. And you've come to think that you've got the privileged place how upside down. Is that and you with me. I mean it's still an infinity of you that you're excluded right because you're the Gentiles now you're in and US Jews are on the outside. You're God upside down. We've all been brought together but more than just Jews and Gentiles it goes across every stratification in society. And that's important for us. Where was I verse fifteen. How did he do this by abolishing in his flesh Christ through His death He abolished in his flesh the enmity. The thing that would separate us. Which is the law of commandments contained in or and in so that in himself he might make the chew into what. One knew man you see what Paul is telling us here. Take away any road racial divide anybody that you might have a prejudice toward and realize that God said No you are one with that person with that race. That's what he's saying here Jew and Gentile divide Gentile division go on there are now one through the death of Jesus Christ. And that Oneness transcends every divide. So when you see somebody and you look at them askance. And you want to be. Yes I know right there. You know you want to separate a little bit realize no no. God made you what he's made you want. Here's an opportunity for us to allow the gospel to have a full reign in our lives. Continuing a little bit further here. Verse sixteen you might reconcile them both in role and body to God by it. Having put to death. Excuse me verse sixteen and might reconcile them both to you in gentile racial divisions both in one body to God through the cross by it by the cross by the death of the cross having put to death the enmity put to death the separation verse seventeen. And he came and preached peace to you who were what. Far away And to those who were near. Verse eighteen. For through him. We both have access in one spirit to the Father. So what else does he say instead of being separated we both have access to the father together through Jesus Christ. First one thousand. So then you gentiles you are no longer strangers in Allianz or you marginalized race wherever it is if it's African-American Hispanic whatever it is you are no longer marginalised no longer strangers in aliens but you are fellow citizens with the Saints you are God's house all. How he we look at everybody that we might have a barrier with. Them they're part of my household. Now I can say things to my family that you can't. Right. And you can say things to your family that are Adeline for me too and we need to. Lies that the the death of Christ God has created one race and it's called the human race. And it's in Jesus Christ and he's made this change and it needs to change me. As well. Paul continues here and he's brick and let's review this he's broken down the dividing wall between us. He's made out of two races one race. He's called us that we can have access to God we have one Father through the death and resurrection of Christ. Let's jump down a little bit further here. Verse nineteen and twenty and following. So then you are no longer strangers in Allan's but you are fellow citizens. We're all of the same country now longer no longer is it Syrian or American or Canadian or Congolese we are all fellow citizens and we are all God's household verse twenty. Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets Christ Himself the cornerstone verse twenty one in whom no whole building being fitted together is growing into a holy temple and Melor. He's taken away the division has given us one access to God He's made us one people and now he makes us one building one worship place one temple. How close are we going to be very close just like two stones laying on one top of another in a temple in a building that's what he wants for us as well and realizing that the strength of the building comes about one with all those different stones are in their exact right place supporting one another and that's God's great to. There's an opportunity for us. There's an opportunity that our worship whether it's here on the Sabbath morning. Whether it's in your home whether it's in your workplace whether it's two people getting together and having prayer it's a Bible study during the week. It's a prayer meeting your worship should be an opportunity for God to heal racial separation. That's what caused one that's his intention better news that's what's going to happen. Believe me there's not going to be an African-American ghetto in the new city. There's not going to be Jewish ghetto there or Filipino lawn or whatever other kind of ghettos there might be we are all going to be living together. Why because the gospel will have transformed us that he's gotten rid of the pre-judgments that exist in our own hearts. There is the greatest opportunity. Not only what God wants to do through us as a group but what does he want to do in your heart individual. How do you respond when them crosses your path. When you talk to. You know I don't know. Which political party to take on. They both have so much material. You know let's just leave it there. You know that whoever is not your political sphere whoever you need. How do you respond. Or your race or your color or your faith. Our job is to reflect the love of Jesus Christ to people because that's what he came to this world to do. He came to a race foundries or a separations to bring people together and say this is what I want in the world and it's through the church that God's wisdom is going to be made known to the universe. Prophecy is important. But living the Gospel change your heart is more important. Here's an opportunity for us want to close with a quotation from a well known individual is not a writer particularly but Lebron James said the other day. It's time to look in the mirror and ask ourselves what are we doing to create change. How are we letting God's grace transform us in a fractured world. Nearly a conversation with somebody and somebody starts making racist comments what do you do your silent you join him. You get up and lean. You're in a situation where somebody is defaming somebody else. What do you do. Here's an opportunity for your hearts and minds to be transformed and to begin to ask ourselves the question how can I bring the healing of the gospel out of these walls and into my community. How can the power of the church transcend this little structure and impact the people that we meet day by day. There's an opportunity forced you agree. Question is will we take advantage of the abundant grace that God has for us. To change our lives and let us influence others. It's time to look in the mirror. And ask myself. What am I do to spread God's love. What am I doing. To create a changed world that can reveal God's grace. Let's pray together either in heaven. Thank you for the privilege of giving our hearts and minds to you. Father I pray this morning that if any time during the sermon in our hearts said. Yeah but I'm not prejudice or in. Any aspect. For that your spirit we continue to speak to us continue to transform us continue to realize the oneness you want to be in our hearts toward others. Thank you for your grace and your goodness. Thank you for your incredible persistent love toward me in Jesus' name in this media was brought to you by audio force a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse. If you would like to listen to more service lead to visit W W W audio verse or.

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