Pastor’s Message

June 2019

Then Peter began to speak, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but that in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:34-35

For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. Romans 3:22b-25a

…for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28

A brief reaction to the senseless murders of 9 sisters and brothers during a Bible study at Emmanuel AME church. It has been my observation since the tragedy in South Carolina that much has been made of the issue of racism in the United States. To characterize this crime as a crime of racism is completely accurate. To recognize that the perpetrator of the crime is a racist is to acknowledge his self-proclaimed prejudice and hatred. To claim that he is representative of the prevailing attitude of the nation is wrong, just as wrong as to claim that racism does not exist in the United States of America.

The world, and the USA as well, is filled with “-isms”. The problem with -isms is that they tend to be means to divide and separate. In economics there is the distinction between “capitalism” and “communism”. In the arena of politics one finds “socialism”, “liberalism“, “conservatism”, and countless more. In the area of personal relationships we meet up with “ageism”, “sexism”, “racism”, “elitism” and many more. An “-ism” tends to identify a particular philosophy or set of principals that a person adheres to. They make it easy for us to identify others as those from whom we are different and distinct. Too often, though, “-isms” tend to help us identify those to whom we feel superior, or those who are clearly wrong-headed, since I am most certainly correct.

Because we are all human, we are all subject to “-isms”. It goes along with being sinners. Sin is that which separates. Sin separates us from God, from one another, and even from a good and healthy relationship with God’s creation. We will not be completely free from our various “-isms” this side of death. We have, however, been blessed with and alternative to “-isms”. To the best of my knowledge there is no such thing as “Christianism” or even “Christism”. To be a Christian is not following a philosophy or set of principals. Being a Christian is following a person, Jesus Christ. To live as he lived, to speak as he spoke, to love as he loved, to forgive as he forgave. I could go on.

The one true Son of God who became flesh and blood for our salvation, shows us how God expects all his children to live. Peter, with a little divine intervention, realized that God shows no partiality. Paul noted that those who have put on Christ are no longer separated by race, social position, or gender, but are all one in Christ Jesus. To be a Child of God is to acknowledge that we are all sinners and by nature we fall short of God’s glory, that is the essence of God’s being. We do not possess the all-consuming love that God has for us and all people. But also to realize that in that love for us God has provided for the forgiveness of our sin in the person of Jesus Christ, that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is not just a means of salvation, but also a model of the life that we are called to live as God’s forgiven and saved children. Such a life reflects the nature of God who sees no distinction and shows no partiality but loved the whole world and all people so much that he sent the Son to save us all.

The tragedy in South Carolina was another reminder of the presence of sin in the world, and the sinful nature of
“-isms“. I am forced to acknowledge the divisive “-isms” that still dwell within me and pray God for forgiveness for them and strength to overcome them so that I may truly follow Christ in my living and my dieing.

Pastor Bret