THE BEST THING I CAN DO!
What’s the most important thing that I can do with my life, according to my calling that will make an impact against racism, work toward reconciliation, and the Kingdom of God?
My answer to that question is to plant churches, really good and relevant cross-cultural churches within communities of need. I believe the “best” thing that I can do is to help plant churches that are Gospel preaching, grace driven and empowered, holistic loving communities that care about their neighborhoods and the broader social and cultural environment.
Some people feel called to fight racism, some are called to preach and call for reconciliation, some are called to pursue economic community development. I can agree and cooperate with these brothers and sisters in many ways, especially if they love Jesus and hold to the truth of his Word. I learn many things from them, willingly participate in some of their efforts, and pray God give them success as they do things according to his will.
Yet, God has called me to preach, and to raise up churches and church planters that will make a difference to and for the poor, that will be models of the Kingdom of God when it comes to facing the issues of race, racism, ethno-centrism, and injustice so as to give a demonstration of what God can do even in a world of sin, hate, and oppression. God has called me to help establish communities of love, joyful worship, and healing. I think this is the best thing I can do against the forces of darkness.
So I will not use some of the rhetoric that others use. I won’t use some of the labels that some throw around, and sometimes stay out of what I think might be ideological or even theological fights that either lead nowhere or seem more about ego and reputation than they do accomplishment.
GOOD THEOLOGY TRUMPS BAD THEOLOGY ON THE GROUND…
I have always had the conviction that good theology trumps bad theology on the ground, in the hood, and among the people. I have had the conviction that a loving and faithful church is a sounder argument with those who wish and yearn for a better day than mere abstract arguments or criticism of the institutions and personalities that fail to live up to our ideals. I say that with the knowledge that no congregation of which I am a part or lead can be anything but imperfect, yet I do believe there are churches that live out ideological consistencies with the Gospel and then other congregations that attempt no ideological consistency at all, and are even ideological opponents to truth, justice, love, and peace.
I believe that I must be patient with my brethren. I have made a commitment to a denomination and I am called to love the people within it, as well as all other people. There are lots of people I don’t like, and it is hard for me to love them consistently. I have failed far too many folks in being as kind, and gentle, and longsuffering as I should.
IT IS TOO EASY TO WALK AWAY
Yet I find it too simple to walk away because I realize someone is or has been racist in my very own denomination. This has never surprised me, and I find it sometimes disingenuous for young brothers to act as if it is a surprise when they read history. How can one disentangle themselves completely from the legacy of America if you live in America? We all have to come to grips with that legacy and decide what to do about and on what foundation we will stand. I have to choose from where I can fight my battle, and what battles I think should be fought, and what biblical leverage I have to fight them. I have chosen to be in a place that makes it plain it stands on Scripture as its “only rule of faith and practice.” I will fight my battle there as it is solid and level ground.
CHURCH IS HARD, SO LETS MAKE IT HARDER
I am grateful to God for every church planter, every church plant, and every renewed and revived congregation that wants to be faithful to Christ, and is a beacon of a love for justice, a practitioner of mercy, and a model of reconciliation. Being and doing church is hard if you want to do it right, and being a cross-cultural church that loves the poor is even harder. Church is hard because it is so idealistic as it seeks the Kingdom of God while it is made up of compromised, failing, failed, and sinned against folk. This is one reason I love a theology of grace, a theology of the necessity of abiding in the vine of Christ without whom we can do nothing.
I want to be a man who hates evil, but who lives everyday with the inner struggle and reality of his own evilness, which reality humiliates me and forces humility upon me. I want to be a man who hates evil, yet yearns to be forgiven when I fail, so the necessity to forgive others is forced upon me as I consider the sins of others against me and against all that is good. With feet of clay I raise my voice to call people, and myself, to look higher, to look to Jesus, to look for his kingdom, to see a heavenly eschatological vision of a new community of people from every tribe, tongue and nation praising God around the throne. The best thing I can do is to call people to the vision of building congregations that exhibit, (albeit sometimes faintly), God’s joy, God’s hope, and the peace of Christ with the weapons of faith, truth, and love.