– [Narrator] You were created to know and enjoy God. You were called to be in community so that you could become all that God desires you to be. God designed you with a purpose so you can be the difference in this world. And we exist to help you on that journey, Graceway.
– Hey everyone, welcome to Graceway. My name is Ashley, and this is my friend, Pastor Andrew.
– Hi Ashley.
– Today, we’re pausing our current series to have a much needed conversation about race in America.
– We absolutely feel the urgency to address this topic right now. We wanna be clear on what Jesus requires of us in our response to those who are hurting, and also to know what to say. This morning, we’re gonna dive right in. We love you, and we want to encourage you to lean into this conversation with Pastor Tim.
– So if you’re anything like me, you’re hoping that tomorrow you wake up, and that it’s just the last day of 2019. I want a refund on 2020. We had a global pandemic. Lots of people lost their lives. Still a lot of questions about when we’re gonna be able to get back to normal, if we’re gonna be able to get back to normal. And just as the stay at home orders’ beginning to be loosed, we’re met with Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and now George Floyd. It’s been an incredibly difficult time for not only our country, but the city. We thought that it would be poignant just to start this conversation at the Plaza, kind of the epicenter of protest, and of the desire to be heard, the demand for justice. And on over my right shoulder, our protesters in the Plaza, and over my left shoulder is a fountain memorializing a man who, even though he brought good things to our city, is kind of the father of segregation and had a very dubious relationship with race. I’d put some things out a couple of days ago, right after I saw that 10 minute video of George Floyd losing his life. And as we got talking to as a team, and as a staff, as we cried together, we just felt like we needed to keep talking about it. And so, I wanted to peel off some time and talk about race in our country, race in the church, and the best way to respond. I love being at Graceway. Graceway’s the church I always wanted to be a part of. Graceway’s diverse in every way. We’re young and old, or rich and poor, and we’re Republican and Democrat. We’ve got a little libertarian in there somewhere, I’m sure. But the thing that I hear over and over again, whenever people visit Graceway is, there’s so much ethnic and cultural diversity. It’s a beautiful mosaic. I think of God’s heart here, right smack in the Midwest. And it’s a blessing to be a part of, but when things like this come up, there’s some complexity to it. And so I wanna talk to those of you who are grieving. I wanna talk to those of you who are angry, and I wanna be present with you. And I wanna tell you that we hear ya, and that we love ya, and that we’re brokenhearted that this has happened again, and that our system is broken, and that justice hasn’t come around these issues. And I also wanna talk to you if you’re afraid, and wanna talk to you if you’re confused, wanna talk to you if you don’t know what to say or how to say it, or how to act, and there’s this tension of just wanting to be present, and angry and sad, frustrated, tired of it, which I am. And at the same time, I wanna provide a vision, and some hope, and some encouragement, and some leadership to an area that we have to stand up in. And so I wanna talk to you if you’re hurting, I wanna talk to you if you’re confused. And the belief that even when evil happens and what has happened is evil. Evil and brokenness exists. The things that the enemy means to divide, the things that the enemy means to destroy and steal, that God still means them for good. I don’t exactly know how, I don’t know how he sovereignly brings grace to brokenness, but I know that he does. And so I wanna pray before we begin, and I wanna ask God to prepare your heart and prepare my heart. If you’re grieving, I wanna speak to ya. I wanna challenge you at the same time. I wanna challenge you because I know that if you come to a church like Graceway, you’ve overcome some of that fragility that keeps us not being able to talk about these things. I know you can talk about it. I know you’re willing to be challenged, but we need to hear from God together. So let’s pray. God, we love you today, and I pray, God, for our city right now, just down the road, protest and looting, not the same thing, not the same person. People, God, that are unheard and are fed up. People that are grieving. People that are angry. People that want justice, demand justice, and God you tell us to love justice. You tell us to grieve with those who grieve. You tell us to be humble and to be kind. And so God, we wanna do that today. And I pray that you, as the great comforter, and as our guide, and what is true, and right, and best that you will be present in our minds, in our hearts, in our homes, in our conversations, and in our church, God, for those of us who right now, we wanna be helpful. We wanna say the right. We wanna do the right thing. We want our faith to be active. God, would you give us wisdom? Would you give us patience? Would you give us the humility that we need, God, to hear from you, to join what I know you’re up to. God, I see that the enemy is trying to destroy our city. And I know that that you have good for us. And so God, would you speak, and would you move, and would you unite, and would you reconcile, and would you heal, and would you do all of these things that are greater than me or any single person? Would you do what only you can do? And would you lead us? And would you heal us? Would you correct us where we need it, God? Would you strengthen us for your glory and our joy? God, we love you. And we thank you for what you’re gonna do. And we pray these things in the name of your son who died on the cross for our redemption. Amen. So obviously we all have pretty visceral reactions and feelings, depending on where we come from, what we believe, who we know. The question is, how do we respond? How do we respond in the midst of this? And earlier this week, when I knew that we were gonna be peeling off some time to have this conversation, I just began to ask, God, would you just, would you speak to me? Would you give me a word? Would you give me a verse to begin this conversation around it? And the verse that came to mind is actually in the Book of Ezekiel. That’s how you know it’s from God. If God gives you a verse, from the Book of Ezekiel, you know, it didn’t come from you, right? But here’s the verses, Ezekiel 22 in verse 30. And I want you to listen to it against the backdrop of what’s going on in our country right now. It says, this is God speaking, “And I sought for a man among them “who would build up the wall “and who would stand in the breach “before me for the land, “that I should not destroy it, “but I found none.” God says, I’m looking for builders. And in order to be a builder, you have to stand in breaches. You have to stand between what it is and what it could be. And God, in the Book of Ezekiel says, I was looking for someone who believed in me, who had the faith, who had the vision to stand in the tension of, in between the tension of what it is and what it could be, long enough for me to do my thing. And so here’s how I want you to think about how you can respond. I want you to stand in the middle. I want you to stand right in the middle, right in the breach, right in the tension, right in the complexity. And typically we don’t like to do that. We don’t like to be in the middle of arguments. We don’t like to be, come in in the middle of a movie. We don’t, we like to be on one of the poles, right? On one of the teams. We like the clarity of knowing who we’re with and why we’re with them. But that’s not really a luxury that we have when it comes to people of faith. I wanna be clear with you, that the enemy, especially on issues like this, he wants you to pick a side. He wants you to pick a side, and I just want you to hear me out. Let me give you some examples of where I see this happen. I hear church people say all the time, man, God is at work wherever he wants to be. God’s sovereign. God’s gracious. God puts anointing in favor on any people group that he wants. But then we have experiences like I did at the lake the other day. I was with Pastor Jeremy, and we were shooting one of our Living Waters, and as I was walking away from the lake, a guy stops me and he said, “I heard you preaching out of the Book of John. “Thank you for doing that. “That over there is Pentecostal Pete, and I’m Baptist Jim.” And I said, “Well, it’s nice to meet you. “I’m not a nominational Tim.” We have this thing, even in the church, where we pick tribes, we pick sides, right? So we’ve got people who are Pentecost, well not just Pentecostal. We got COGIC, we got Assembly of God, we got black Pentecostal and white Pentecostal. We got conservative Pentecostal and liberal Pentecostal. We got Presbyterian, not just Presbyterian, PC , PCA, Reformed Church in America. We got Baptist. I’m not even gonna get started on the Baptist, right? We got non-denominational. We have interdenominational. We have transdenominational. God’s at work everywhere, but here’s what ends up happening. We pick a tribe, and then how many times have you heard a pastor reference another denomination as them? Not as us, as them. And we use jokes about other tribes, and other theological frameworks. And I just wonder, in the middle of that, is that the spirit of God doing that, or is that the enemy doing that? We make statements like, “God wants to bless all people.” And you agree with that, right? How about in election year? Do you agree with it in an election year? And I’m astounded at some of the things I hear church people say about Democrats or Republicans. I had someone just say to me a week and a half ago, “Man, I hate Nancy Pelosi.” Wow. And I’ve heard people say, “I hate Barack Obama.” I’ve had people say, “Barack Obama’s the Antichrist.” I had people say, “Trump’s an idiot and a moron. “And I hate him.” Now I wonder, is that the spirit of God, and is that commensurate with our belief that God loves and wants to bless everybody? You know, we have this thing in the church where we think we’re stuck with politicians. That’s not the way that the Bible talks about it. Politicians say, or the Bible says, politicians are stuck with us. I’m not stuck with Trump. Trump’s stuck with me because I’m gonna pray for him that he would live a godly and peaceful life, that God would give him wisdom. I don’t have to agree with him, and I don’t have to like him to pray that, but I’m certainly, I’m certainly not free to hate him, or her, or them, because my God is a God who reconciles and puts things back together. We believe that God has created everybody in his image. I hope that you’re pro-life, not just for the unborn. This is a really important thing for you because so many times in the church, I hear people talk about being pro-life. And what they mean is the neonatal stage of, no, no, no, we’re pro-life for all people, for all people groups, regardless of their skin color. Yes, as it pertains to somebody before they draw their first physical breath. We’re pro-life, I’m pro-life in that regard, but I’m also pro-adoption, and I’m pro-black, white, brown, yellow, red. And we say yes and amen to that, until the media says something like, “Black lives matter.” And then we forget that God created everyone in his image. You see, God’s too big for any one race to perfectly depict him. And it’s amazing to me because I sit across from Christians sometimes, and they say things like, “Yeah, yeah, we agree, black lives matter, but”. And I just wanna stop him and say, “See, that but is why we don’t agree.” The enemy wants you to pick a side, and black lives matter is not a controversial statement for a person of faith. If your house caught on fire and the fire department came, you would want them to focus on your house, ’cause it was on fire. You wouldn’t say, “Please spray water on all the houses.” So that it’s an equal statement. There are people in our community who are saying, our house is on fire. And the fact that they have to say, we matter. And the fact that Christians argue with it, it’s not from the spirit of God. The enemy wants you to pick a side. And let me tell you something. When I say black lives matter, I don’t mean blue lives don’t matter. I don’t mean black lives matter more than anyone else. I’m just saying their house is on fire, and at some point our theology has to match our politics, has to match our rhetoric. And we have to say, of course, all lives matter. When I say I’m for the black community, I don’t mean I’m not for police officers. I am for police officers. I’ve been texting with, and praying, and grieving, and crying for my friends who are civil servants, and who are overwhelmed, and overworked, who are trying to employ their faith, are trying to discern the right thing to do as people protest, and as people loot. They see the same things on social media that you and I see. Listen, it is a false dichotomy to say, if I say, black lives matter, I mean blue lives don’t matter. As a person of faith, I mean, and I say, and I will not, listen to me. I will not be reprimanded, ridiculed, or backed into a corner as though I’m picking favorites. And we are for all people, because God is for all people, and the enemy divides us. Listen to this. The enemy divides us when we pick a side, when I pick a side, we further divide. And I want you to think about that I have someone on both on both arms right now, and something comes up, and I have this tension of, I wanna go, I wanna go with a certain side, but watch, when I go with this, I’m pulling away from my buddy to my right, to your left. And if I go the other way, I’m pulling away with, and the enemy knows, listen. When you pick something that God says you aren’t free to pick, you create a breach. You create, here’s the way the Apostle Paul says it. Listen to this 1 Corinthians 1, verses 10 through 13, “I appeal to you brothers.” It’s almost like Paul’s saying, come on somebody, right? “I appeal to you by the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, “that all of you agree, “and that there be no divisions among you, “but that you be united in the same mind “and the same judgment.” And then he gives a context to it. He says, “For it’s been reported to me by Chloe’s people “that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. “What I mean is that each of you says, “I follow Paul, or I follow Apollos, or I follow Cephas,” That’s Peter. “Or I follow Christ.” And he asks this rhetorical question, “Is Christ divided?” Does God give us the freedom to pick? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? And the answer is obviously no. Some of us, we think that we have choices to make divisions that we don’t. We don’t. And when the church picks a political party, picks a people group, picks a denominational tribe, and uses that to condescend to, or be dismissive of other people of God, other people in our city created in the image of God, loved by God, Jesus shed his blood for all people. The enemy knows that when I pull away from one, I create a breach. I create a breach. I got a phrase for you. It’s a little wordy, but it’s an important one. Division without discourse leads to demonization. Let me say it to you again. Division without discourse leads to demonization. I read an article a couple months ago before all of this was going on. It was talking about, how has our Congress gotten so polarized? And the guy made the argument that back in the day, Democrats and Republicans would argue on the house floor, and then they’d go to dinner together. They’d go golfing together, or they’d go to the bar together. And that what it created was some civility, because even if we disagree, I know you, right? Even if we disagree, I’ve got a relationship that the disagreement sits in that context. And he said, that what has happened over the last few presidencies, is that now if a Democrat hangs out with a Republican, they’re ridiculed or chastised. You gotta hang with your own people. And watch what has happened. Division or even distance without discourse creates demonizations, is it creates characterizations that aren’t true. They’re only mirrors of my perspective that may or may not be right. And this is how we come up with cartoon characters around real people. Because if I actually had a conversation with them, I would have to honor their value and their worth. You know, I hear Christians sometimes, and they talk about people of a different race, or people of a different denomination, or people of a different sexual orientation. And the things that I hear them say, the thing that I know is, you don’t have any friends who are that. You would never talk about them that way if it meant representing someone that you actually cared about. And this is the thing that terrifies me about the church is that we become so insulated, and so internal, that we were never challenged in our perspectives. We never bump into somebody who thinks differently than me or talks differently than me. I just spend time with people who vote like me, talk like me, dress like me, believe like me. And what it allows me to do is my world view becomes so incredibly small, that anybody that’s not in my circle is them. I don’t have relationships with, I don’t have conversation with, and it’s easy for me to develop a characterization that is probably not true, but would require some work to fix. So here’s what the Bible says. The Bible says in Luke 11, in verse 17, “But he, knowing their thoughts,” This is Jesus speaking said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, “and a divided household falls.” The enemy knows that if he can get the people of God to allow breaches, that they don’t wanna stand in, that he can destroy a culture. Listen to me. You wanna know why things are going on on the Plaza, the way that they are? Because a long time ago, we devalued our fellow man. We didn’t love them as ourselves. We created some distance between, we’re not having conversations with, and we’ve created caricature is about people that don’t have anything to do with us. This isn’t our problem. This is their problem. Listen, you see it now, right? This is our problem. This is all of our problem. Now I know what you’re thinking. Jesus came and Jesus took a stand, right? Jesus stood up for himself. But here’s the question that I would have for you. He, of course, Jesus took a stand. Where did he take a stand? Jesus took a stand in the breach. Jesus chose to stand in the gap. Let me explain what I mean. Jesus stood in the gap between the sinners and the religious establishment. Sinners loved them, religious establishment hated them. The insular, the internal, the small circle hated a God who said in a moment, “I’m not with anyone, I’m for the kingdom.” And sinners said, “I want that.” Jesus didn’t pick a side. Jesus stood in the gap. Listen to me. Jesus stood in the gap between humanity and deity, right? Jesus didn’t come and say, in order for me to be a human, I have to stop being God. No Jesus came. And he was both. He’d go to seminary and they call this, hypostatic union, whatever that means. Here’s what it means. Jesus stood in the breach. Jesus goes to the cross, and think about it, what does Jesus do on the cross? He stands in the breach between the justice of God and the grace of God. Listen, if you’re a Christian here, your God stands in the breach. Your God stands in the middle. He stands and we say, no, no, no, God has to pick a side. And we create theologies, and denominations, and churches around a side that we think God picked, but you cannot look at the Bible and see that God says, “I’ll pick one of your sides.” God never says that. God says, “You pick me.” And when you pick me, you pick standing in the breach. And we have a breach in our country, and we have a breach on our churches, and we gotta be able and willing to stand in that breach. Let me go further. Holy Spirit stands in the gap, stands in the breach. My prayers, what does the Book of Romans say? The Book of Roman says, “There are times you don’t know what to pray.” And the Holy Spirit in some translation says, “Utters your groanings.” Just says for you, well, you don’t know, the space between what you mean to say and what you know how to say, in between that is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is in the gap of my transformation. The Holy Spirit brings the grace of God into my life. The Holy Spirit is a part of my regeneration, of my conversion. That happened for me October 18th, 1994. But how many of you know, even though I love Jesus a little bit more than I did those many years ago, I’m still not everything that God wants me to be. Who is it that stands in the gap of my transformation? It’s the Holy Spirit. In between my conversion and glory is the Holy Spirit. We are started in our faith by a God who stands in the breach. We are kept in our faith by a God who stands in the breach. We are progressed in our faith by a God who stands in the breach. This is why the church then is called to stand in the breach. God says, listen, y’all are sojourners. This isn’t something that is your home. This is you just passing through. And as you pass through, you’re representing another kingdom. You’re an ambassador. 2 Corinthians 5 in verse 20, “Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, “God making his appeal through us. “We implore you on behalf of Christ, “be reconciled to God.” That’s the job of the church. The job of the church isn’t to pick a side, the job of the church is to represent a kingdom. A kingdom that is on the foundation of a God who says, “I come into your brokenness and I stand in it. “And as I stand in it, “I reconcile disparate parts to one another.” You to me, man to man, man to creation. This is the gospel that God comes into our breach, stands in our breach, lives in our breach. That’s what the incarnation is. In the incarnation brings a God of healing to a breach created by man. And so the gospel is, listen, we’re not trying to build a coalition. We’re not. We’re not trying to build a political party. I’m not trying to build a denomination. I’m trying to represent a God of reconciliation. And if I’m gonna represent a God of reconciliation, I know that there’s pressure for you to pick a side, but people of faith, we don’t pick a side. We represent a kingdom. And in the representation of our kingdom, we give God the opportunity to heal things that legislation ain’t gonna heal. You hear what I’m saying? This is too broken for us to freak out about it every four years. Obviously we want good leaders. Obviously we need good cops, and good firefighters, and good teachers, and good superintendents, and good civil servants. But how many of you know, this isn’t a legislative issue. This is a hard issue. And if God is going to be free to reconcile, the reconciliation has to start in the hearts of those who claim that he has saved them. Here’s what the Bible says in Ephesians. Hey y’all, be eager to maintain the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. Be eager. Be eager to be about peace. Be eager to be about unity. Be eager. There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all who is overall and through all and in all. And we’re living in a time right now, listen to me, that God who loves, and is over his creation, is on the Plaza saying, you’re not listening. And the church has to be strong enough to stand in the middle of it and say, I’m not gonna be backed into a corner and told I gotta pick a side. I’m representing something bigger than this. I’m listening. I wanna be humble before you, I’m gonna be kind, I’m for everything that God is for. And if we’ll posture ourselves in that place, by God’s grace and in the strength of the Holy Spirit, we make space for the Holy Spirit to be at work, not only in our city, but in us.
– We know this is a heavy topic and can elicit many emotions. We also want you to know that you’re not alone and you don’t have to carry these on your own. If you’re being stirred in any way by our discussion today, our pastoral team would love to talk to you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out by calling or texting the number on the screen. We’re all in this together. And we’re here for you in any capacity that is needed.
– So I wanna be a good pastor to you, I wanna be helpful. What’s a good path forward? What’s a way to think about how to respond? Now, let me be honest with you. When we’re talking about race, and culture, and faith, and politics, it’s not a simple, it’s not as simple response, and it’s not a linear response. And so I wanna just encourage you to be gracious to yourself here. And to know that God is a God of reconciliation, and that even when you make mistakes, the easiest thing to say is, “I’m sorry”. But I do wanna give you some good practices to enter into, and to think about, and to employ as we go through things like this. The first thing that I want you to do is, if you’re gonna stand in the breach, I think you gotta be willing to live in it, you gotta be willing to sit in it for a minute. I think it’s important for you to acknowledge how you feel about this. We don’t talk about this enough in the church. Emotions, and what emotions mean, and where they come from, and what they represent for me. So if you’re feeling confused, if you’re feeling angry, if you’re feeling worn out, if you’re feeling sad, it’s important for you to begin there. And let me tell you why, because people who won’t sit in their own emotions have a hard time with empathy. Anytime you’re talking to somebody who can’t possibly imagine why you feel the way that you feel, it’s probably because they haven’t spent that much time considering why they feel the way that they feel. And so I wanna encourage you, that when these things come up, to spend some time and just think about how you’re feeling, what you’re processing, and then I want you to develop some empathy, and then I want you to pray. Whenever I start with how I feel, I can take those feelings to God. And when I start with how other people might feel, I can be directed in prayer. And so when we think about feeling and praying, the Book of James gives us some important ways to consider this. James 1, verse five, hey, if any of you lack wisdom, how many of you feel like, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to say, from both perspectives, from all perspectives. I’m hopeless, and I’m frustrated, or I’m confused. And I wanna be helpful, but I don’t know how, if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously with to all without reproach, and it will be given to him. And so here’s the spiritual discipline that I’d like you to enter into around these issues. Considering journaling, how do I feel about this? Why do I feel the way that I feel about it? Do I like how I feel about it? Do I agree with how I feel about it? And then thinking through, how do different people feel about it? How do my black neighbors feel about it? How do my white neighbors feel about it? How do our Hispanic community, how do our international partners feel about it? And then from that place, God, this is how I’m feeling. Would you search me, and try me, and see if there be anything in me that isn’t your heart. And for those who are hurting, for those, who God, I wanna be empathetic. God, I wanna be, I don’t, this isn’t my experience. I don’t completely understand, but I can still be with somebody when I don’t understand. And then God, give me the wisdom to speak when I need to speak, to be silent when I need to be silent, to be present, to hear, to listen. So number one, I want you to just spend some time thinking about how you’re feeling, and praying through it, and asking God to grow your empathy. Number two, I want you to reach out and listen. I want you to reach out and listen. Here we go again with the Book of James, chapter one verse 19. “Know this, my beloved brothers, “let every person be quick to hear, “slow to speak, slow to anger.” Those first two are so important right now. We’re in a time when we have friends, we have family, we have people in our city who say, “You’re not listening. “You’re not hearing me.” And the church more than anybody should be glad to do that. I wanna be quick to listen. I wanna be slow to speak. And even though I’m angry, I wanna have the spent time in my emotions so that God’s even redeeming those. A lot of you know, my pastor, Dr. Dwight Perry, is a black man. And we became friends pretty organically. We were both in Madison, Wisconsin, and he was overseeing the denomination that our church was a part of at the time, and the regional representation of that. And after a little bit of time together, I said, “Doc, I have a question to ask you. “If I’ll buy you lunch, “can I ask you anything I want about the black church “and you not think I’m a racist?” How many of you feel like? I don’t know why other groups do it that way, I don’t know why church lasts that long, or why we dress up, or why we, I had all these questions that I was afraid to ask. And so after I’d built a friendship, I found myself having the opportunity to listen, right? To listen so that I could learn. Can I tell you if you don’t have anyone in life who doesn’t have a different perspective, doesn’t have a different experience, doesn’t have a maybe different theology, or different background, it’s almost impossible for you to be growing. I say to my boys all the time, you’ve heard this, God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason right? And when this is shut and these are open, I have the opportunity to be learning. And when I’m learning, I’m growing, and this is a great time for those of us who say, this isn’t my experience. I don’t understand, that we have to put ourselves in a humble and learning posture, but let me also say this. There are times where I want you to reach out and listen. This is not one of those times. This is a time for you to reach out, and listen to serve. Sometimes we listen to learn. Sometimes we listen to serve. So let me help you on this. Don’t call your black friend and say, what should I do? Don’t do that. Don’t, what should I say? What should I believe? What should I think right now? Call them and say, “How are you? “I’m so sorry. “I’m with you. “I wanna serve you. “I wanna be present with you.” Don’t ask them for something. Don’t ask something from them, just be present with them. There’s a time to listen to learn, and there’s a time to listen to serve. And this is one of those times. To be quick to hear, to be slow to speak. Not so I get something, but so that they know that they’re not alone. How many of you know that even when something feels hopeless, even when I feel powerless, if I have people with me, there’s a redemptive value to that. So I want you to feel and pray. I want you to reach out and listen. How many you know that’s not enough. And it’s not enough for you to just be posting on social media. It’s not enough, as good as it is, for you to be having conversations. Sometimes you’re gonna have to act. The Book of James, again, two verses 16 and 17. “And one of you says to them, go in peace, “be warmed and filled, “but you haven’t given them the things “they needed for their body, “what good is that? “So also faith by itself, “if it does not have works, is dead.” Please listen to me. I want your theology to be good. I want your thinking to be good. I want your perspective to be good, but if it never translates to your political posture, to your relationships, to your rhythms, to your practices, to your behaviors, what does the Bible say? Your good theology, your good intellectual faith, it ain’t worth the doggone thing. There are times where you’re gonna have to speak up. There are times you’re gonna have to vote differently. There are times where you’re gonna have to go to a different part of town, and support a different kind of local business. There are new tribes that you need to figure out a way to be a part of, and new friends that you need to decide you’re gonna make. Some of us, man, our faith is from here up. And this is a great time for you to move your faith from here down. Into your hands, and into your feet, and into your chest, and into your gut. Come on , if you’re not mad right now, if you’re not broken-hearted right now, this isn’t conceptual. This is real life. There are, there’s a man who’s in a box because of the color of his skin. And we gotta get to the spot where our faith isn’t conceptual. Your faith should be emotional as well. And there are times when the emotion means I gotta get up out of this seat and I have to not only do something different, I have to be something different. Listen to what Micah 6 in verse eight says. He said, “I don’t know what to do.” Let me give you a paradigm for it. “He has told you, O man, what is good?” Here’s a good decision. “And what does the Lord require of you?” Three things. Do justice, love kindness. Walk humbly with your God. And let me say it to you different. Here’s the triangle. Is this just? Is this kind? Is this humble? In the context of relationship. What does justice demand for George Floyd? What is kind to our city right now, to the black community? What is humble? And if you can’t make it through those three checklist points, you probably shouldn’t do it. And I hope that you’re doing it in the context. Listen, those things are in flesh and blood. Your friend should say, Tim loves justice. Tim’s humble. Tim’s kind. We don’t always have to agree, but he loves justice. He is kind, he is humble. And there are times that that’s conversational. There are times that’s intellectual. And there are times that that means I gotta do something different. I gotta do something different. These things serve as our guiding light in these areas. We love justice, and injustice has occurred. We love kindness. You see the lack of kindness everywhere. We love humility. You see ego, and arrogance, and pride around this issue. You see it on social media. You see it in our political halls. You see it in our churches. So I’m asking you, would you sit in it? Would you stand in the breach, and you’re not gonna stand if you haven’t sat in it. Would you pray, God, look at me, look at my heart. See if there’s anything in me that needs to be addressed. Give me an empathetic heart, and then reach out. Not to talk, not to say, what should I do, and not to look for direction. Just to be present. Say I love you, I’m praying for you. I’m with you. You aren’t alone. God’s got good in the midst of this. And then you gotta act. Past your social media, past your Instagram page. You gotta get up. You gotta make new friends, you gotta vote different. You gotta shop different. You gotta be different. And then lastly, I hope that this makes you long for redemption. As the people of God, we’re people of redemption and reconciliation. And I hope that this has stoked to fire in you. God, we need help. We need help. I don’t know what to do. This feels so broken. It’s been happening for too long. In some spots, the church has been too silent. Some spots, the church has been an accessory to this, but God, I wanna be different. I wanna make a difference. Because I know that that’s who you are. And so I love you today, and I believe that God wants to do a good thing in the midst of this. Listen, there’s evil everywhere. Things that the enemy means to rip us apart, to divide us, but God can use the worst things. And this is one of the worst things for his good. And so we need to seek his face together, for his glory and our joy. I love you. I’ll see you soon.
– Graceway is fueled by the generosity of everyday people. People like you and I, and a ton of other families who practice a spiritual act of giving. We believe that when you give joyfully, God meets us in powerful ways. If you would like to worship through giving, you can do so securely by going to visitgraceway.org/gift. Friends, thank you so much for spending your time with us today. Don’t forget, you can talk with our pastoral team by calling or texting the number on the screen. We also wanna invite you to week one of Growth Track happening online today. Growth Track is the way to get connected with what God is doing at Graceway. Go to visitgraceway.org/growthtrack to register. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can join us from anywhere on the globe. We hope to see you there.
– Before we go, let’s pray together. Father, we thank you in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Lord, we thank you for your mercy. We thank you for your grace. We thank you for your loving kindness. It is because of your mercy, that we are not consumed, and your mercies are new every morning. So Lord, today, we are grateful for your word that we have received. We’re thankful for the conversations that has gone forth. Lord, we thank you for clarity that is coming. We pray, O Lord, that you give us understanding, O Lord, and a sensitive heart, to be sensitive to our neighbors, to be sensitive to each other, to love each other, and Lord, I just speak right now, the words of prophet Micah, over our city, over the church, and over each family, that we will be a people that live justly before you, that we’ll be a people walking with compassion, with love and kindness, and that we will be a people that walk humbly before their God. Father, we thank you. I declare this words and I declare it so. In Jesus’ precious name, we pray. Amen.