By Lindsay Preston
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha ….” (Luke 10:38-42)
Silly question: Have you ever been performance-driven, even making up for the idleness of someone else to a point where it really rattled your lid?
Not-so-silly answer: Of course!
Just like Martha.
Luke 10 ends with Christ’s first of three visits to a much beloved household in Bethany, that of Martha and her siblings, her sister, Mary, and as recorded in John 11, her brother, Lazarus.
Out of the three, Martha was the ignition, and often made herself to be the fuel as well, just as outspoken as she was welcoming. It was her who ran to Jesus when he entered the village. It was her who greeted him again when he later returned.
On the first occasion and in Christ’s subsequent visits, she obviously assumed full charge of the meal preparations, and perhaps hadn’t yet honed her delegation skills. As though everyone should know their part, she multi-tasked in full throttle, performance personified—and then some.
Then she spots the idling Mary. Okay, the sister was sitting with Jesus, but there was still so much stuff begging to be done!
I like to think that Martha didn’t speak up right away. Whether motivated by the need to be valued or a sincere desire to bring her best, she threw herself even into some of the things she thought Mary should be responsible for. Frustration continued to brew. When the pot cover inside her head started rattling, she marched over to Jesus—and might he be just slightly remiss himself, allowing Mary a front-row seat while tired Martha picks up the slack?
Her frustration reverberated through her very first word, that hallowed title, “Lord.”
Then this shocker, “… do you not care …?”
Instead of calling Mary aside, Martha openly attempts to obligate a third party—in this case the Lord himself—to come to her corner. Nowadays, this might manifest as a social network rant; a Twitter tweet or a Facebook post excluding the name of the accused as everyone in my friend’s list, all my followers will know who the rant refers to.
There must have been a few seconds of utter silence after this pop: “Tell her then to help me.”
The strongest, most encompassing, and most effective emotion unsurprisingly comes calmly through the mouth of Christ.
“Martha, Martha ….”
The pot is simmering here as well. But with deep compassion. The for-God-so-loved-the-world kind. He calls us by name, and here Jesus dearly repeats that of the performance-driven Martha.
Humans repeat names too sometimes. To grab eye contact. The person spoken to usually gets to say, “What?” So that we follow with words—and actions, which we often claim speak louder than words.
But when God repeats your name, there is no need for, “What?”
You will know.
“Martha, Martha ….”
Her heart melted right there. She knew.
Adam and Eve had only to hear “the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden” (Genesis 3:8), and they knew. They knew their nakedness.
In your frustration, fear, guilt, or whatever emotion unclothes you, do the Matthew 6:6. Enter your room, shut the door. Hide, not as Adam and Eve did, thinking they could hide from the great I AM. Hide with Him. He will repeat your name.
Your name alone, from the omnipotent breath of God, is the faithful heart of the Holy Trinity expressing the one thing necessary.
Just like Mary.
Be still and listen; be still and know. Know not only that He is God but know who you are in Him. Know your identity. That you are his beloved. His bride. Know He has you engraved on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16), your sitting at his feet established an eternity before you stood to perform thinking you must earn.
Sit or kneel listening at the feet of Jesus. Only in such a surrendered and intimate position can you receive your Paid-By-Christ identity when God repeats your name.
Last week marked the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
It is a daunting task to write about such a topic.
This is a subject about which I know just enough to know I don’t know much.
In this post I will share a few impressions I have gathered upon the way. Then I will suggest a resource to learn more.
I grew up in Edson, Alberta, a small town halfway between Edmonton and Jasper. In Grade 4 I attended Pine Grove Elementary, in Mr. O’Keefe’s class. Mr. O’Keefe was prematurely gray and had a reputation for strictness. I found that to be true, but also found that he was a fair and occasionally generous man (at the end of the year he had the lot of us over to his acreage for a nature walk and lunch). One day, a new student came into the class, whose name was Eddy (I am not sure of the spelling, nor of his last name). Eddy was a First Nations boy. We were a pretty homogeneous bunch and he stood out like a sore thumb.
My memories of Eddy are few. He had long, black hair tied into two braids. He smelled strongly of wood-smoke. He loved to play floor hockey and had a great wrist-shot. He was troubled: on at least one occasion he was physically carried into the classroom and placed in his desk. One day he was gone.
When I was in my third and final year of law school, I took a class in Aboriginal Law. I confronted the ugly realities of Canadian history: how countless treaties between the Canadian government (or prior authorities like the British and the French) and First Nations had been negotiated and then ignored. The bad faith permeating the process astounded me – for instance, treaties written in two languages, where the English treaty was the “official” version AND also different in significant ways from the First Nations version (the differences always favoured the government).
I learned about the indignities of the Indian Act which designates First Nations people “wards of the state”, like foster children; and the unbearable realities of the Residential School system with its express purpose of extinguishing the language and culture of its students.
Last month, for our 16th wedding anniversary, Liezl and I went to Pemberton. As we drove up past Pemberton to our Airbnb, we came upon a collection of houses on either side of the road: most were run-down and rather ugly. “Shacks” I remarked to Liezl. I was struck by the similarity to small towns in South Africa: nice houses in the town, with a collection of “informal housing” on the outskirts. It dawned on me shortly thereafter that this was a First Nations reserve (it is in fact part of the Lil’wat Nation).
So what now?
It is vital for us as followers of Jesus Christ (and Canadians) to reckon with the abuse and exploitation of First Nations peoples throughout Canadian history and still today. For Canadians, because our land was their land before it become our land. For Christians, because some of the most horrific abuse and exploitation was perpetrated by Christian churches, in partnership with the government of Canada, and in the name of Jesus Christ.
- How do we pursue a biblical vision of reconciliation within this context?
- How do we proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in this place, with this history?
- How do we love our neighbours as ourselves, given what has occurred?
- How do we lay our lives down for our First Nations friends?
- How do we show a different vision of Jesus Christ?
I don’t know.
I do know that the answers will be found in Jesus Christ, not ourselves.
The place to start is to become aware of our own history.
Here is a great place to begin: The Indigenous Peoples’ Atlas of Canada, which is a project of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society “in conjunction with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis Nation, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and Indspire.”
Read and find out!Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada
The post Reflections upon the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation appeared first on Trinity Central Church Vancouver.
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it,and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.
Imagine … on the Lord’s Day caught up in the Spirit in a breathtaking vision of Heaven’s throne, the glorious Holy One seated there, the keeper of a sealed scroll which must be opened—but only by one who is worthy. To this effect a mighty angel speaks. His voice flows with power, “Who is worthy?”
A swell of expectation warms your heart, and you feel light enough to float.
But you end up weeping. Loudly.
We have all, under the burden of a great loss or in the hard face of the impossible, wept—perhaps even loudly.
Let me share to you one such sorrow.
When I was a child (relishing the first-born’s distinction of being “Pop’s boy”) I spent the summers with my grandparents. I remember having a notebook whose cover photo depicted a freckle-faced lad sitting on the doorsteps in near-threadbare clothes. He was plucking the two green-twine strings of a homemade guitar-like thing fashioned with a shoebox for the body, and a wooden neck surely once part of something else, like a fence picket but half as narrow. The boy was beaming.
Pop must have noticed my fascination. He approached me a few hours later, grinning, offering a two-string, an almost exact replica.
Every day the entire summer my greatest joy was that guitar. Even before Leonard Cohen came up with this beautiful line, “I heard there was a secret chord”, I found a few secret chords of my own. Nerve-grinding sounds that are probably best kept secret.
At the end of August, my mother showed up as usual to take me home. I happened to be fishing across the road on the harbour banks when that old green ’67 Chevy Nova rattled the pebbles in the driveway. The car was barely halted when my two younger brothers jumped out pushing and shoving each other, racing towards the house.
Suddenly, a clear picture flashed—my guitar leaning against the side of the television in the living room. Dread seized me. I dropped my fishing rod and ran. But I was too late. Those two would-be musicians had already discovered my guitar. They were wrestling over it, and—just as I yelled “Stop!”—the shoebox body ripped.
You bet I wept. Loudly.
Looking back, my dearest treasure was simply cardboard, wood, and string—and another could be made—but all I saw was devastation. As if no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to repair.
Older now, I might still fret a bit and even shed a tear, but I have found the Ultimate Fixer. Not the Jack-of-all-trades, but the Master-of-all-trades. One who is never unable. One who is always willing. The only one worthy.
And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
Somehow, some of us must reach the point of critical woundedness, wobble for a while through devastation or countless, unproductive worries before we finally surrender and commit to trusting completely in the Lion, the Root, the Conqueror.
“Weep no more.”
In other words, “Not all is lost.” In fact, all is never lost if we embrace the comforting Christ of John 14:27, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Like a heavy cloak on a blistering day, cast off your fear. The impossible is unquestionably possible.
In March 2020, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, I lost my passport. After two days of crippling panic, I set my mind to eliminating unproductive fear, pointless worry, and I asked the Lion to help me.
What ensued was an unprecedented streak of challenges. I was thrown into hands-on training. Better described by the Apostle Paul as “sufferings to rejoice in because suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
Confession: after all that training, I have yet to “master” the art of taking down the stronghold of fear, and I lose some of those battles in the fight against worry. But with the help of the Holy Spirit I have become a better-prepared, a more efficient and stronger soldier. In a recent challenge, dressed in “the whole armour” (Ephesians 6:11), I was able to hold on tighter than ever before to that complete trust in the Lion of Judah. The Lord Jesus. The Lamb. The only one in heaven or on earth or under the earth worthy and able to open that scroll, any scroll, your scroll.
In times of weeping, when hope seems rolled up and sealed with as many as seven seals, listen: there will come a roar from the throne. The Lion. Or perhaps just a whisper. The Lamb. The Lord Jesus. The Alpha and the Omega, the author and finisher of our faith.
It is finished! Wipe away those tears. Clear the eyes. Let your expectation be the hope that the elder saw on the Lord’s Day when he uttered these certain and unbreakable words, “Weep no more.”
AUTHOR Lindsay Preston. ARTWORK Milly Jones.
One sheep out of a hundred. One coin out of ten. The younger of two precious sons. Lost.
Sheep usually stick with the flock, but if one somehow gets separated, a good shepherd will act quickly. The stray will bleat its heart out wandering, winding intermittently. Very vulnerable to predators.
Have you ever lost a coin? Or something else that mattered so deeply you even wept? I have.
And oh, the anguish that comes with a missing son. Lost literally in a far country. Lost spiritually after squandering his inheritance, bent to the mud in a stranger’s field, eating with the stranger’s pigs.
For all three, the one whose heart was torn the most – the keeper – went ardently seeking. When the missing was finally found, instant invitations were issued to friends and neighbours to join the celebration. Even angels rejoiced!
As for the broken son—not only did the father embrace him, kiss him – he immediately called for the best robe to be placed on him, a ring on his finger, and new shoes for the shoeless feet. The remorseful son was restored to his former place at the family table, free to eat to his heart’s delight the fatted calf.
Recently, after waking in the wee hours, moved by such unconditional, unending grace, I teared up thinking on my own wanderings. The many days I strayed, the times I questioned, the times I rebelled like a heedless son squandering his inheritance.
The nights I walked away from the mud with mud still on me. And every time. Every time. Our Heavenly Father was waiting with open arms. Out of these thoughts came the following poem.
THERE IS JUST NO END
My tears are written on your scroll
I’m engraved upon your palm.
without limit –
was mine to bear,
but you bore it.
You rejoiced over me in song.
It is also written,
Seventy times seven I was your stray sheep,
that one lost coin –
the returning prodigal so willing to eat your crumbs.
there is just no end to
the number of your fatted calves.
BY JOHN PAYNE
The seeds for Tidal Church were sown three years ago at ‘Thirst’, Trinity’s annual weekend away. It was the last session of the last day and I was already mentally packing my bags to return to Kate and the kids in the UK. Wonderfully, God gave me something else to think about, grabbing my attention with one of the most vivid pictures I’ve ever received: a gigantic wave rolling into the BC coastline. Fast forward three years and we now live here! Wonderfully, I get to enjoy watching the ocean every day from our house.
Recently, I stood in awe as some of the biggest waves I’ve ever seen crashed down upon Ambleside beach, taking people by surprise, even knocking a few people over! Immediately I thought about that picture God had given me. At the time I thought it was just God getting my attention but I felt the Holy Spirit whisper that it was a picture of what God was and is going to do in Vancouver.
There are a few places where waves are referenced in Scripture, none more prominent than the psalmist’s experience in Psalm 42. He starts the psalm exhausted, lonely, desperate, searching for a touch from God. He calls out for streams of water but by the end, he encounters something so much more! He describes his experience of God as being like waves breaking over him.
That’s God’s heart for the North Shore of Vancouver. The human cry for a touch from God. That deep yearning for real, lasting refreshing that’s all around us in this city, and that God wants to meet with His power. It’s the invitation of Jesus (John 7:37).
Naming the growing church ‘Tidal’ speaks to us every day of God’s promise!
We’re been so blessed over these last four months to find others equally envisioned with what God wants to do here. We are so grateful for Emma Vickers! For a long time, she was the only person we knew living here and what a person to know! We’ve been massively encouraged by her faith for what God is going to do and the way she’s taken it upon herself to pray for this place over the last decade.
Wonderfully, there are now over 14 of us meeting each week online to pray for and talk about what God wants to do on the North Shore. Everyone has their own story to tell of how God moved them here and we’re all carrying an expectation of the new thing that God wants to do!
We’re purposefully positioning ourselves for revival
The illustration we often use is that of a sailing boat. As a church we’re like a little yacht not going anywhere unless the wind blows! We are completely dependent on God. We can’t create revival. What we need is a sovereign move of God to show people their need for him.
We need the wind of the Spirit to blow! However, what we CAN do is raise the sail. We can position ourselves so that when the Spirit of God blows upon where we live, we can make the most of what he’s doing!
With that in mind, we’re already multiplying our small group across the North Shore.
Dom and Lucy Cottrill have just rented a house in Horseshoe Bay, Kate and I are living here in Ambleside, Courtney and Mac Comstock and a stream of others including Heewon, Dan, Chimmey and Emma have moved to Lonsdale and Mark and Katrina Machin live in Seymour village, on the Eastern tip of the North Shore.
Our hope is that we would grow church communities in each of these areas made up primarily of those thirsty to know more about Jesus. We believe that in every believer are the seeds of a small group or even a church plant. So we’re praying that as each of us makes friends, serves the community and faithfully shares Jesus that those seeds will take root and in time bear fruit.
At the moment that means giving ourselves to getting to know the people and places where we live. We’re praying for ‘people of peace’ and open doors (Luke 10:6). In February we’re planning a big ‘Alpha’ push and hoping to run a few different courses. Please do join us in praying that God draws many. We’re in this for the long haul and we’re fully aware that it can time to see first fruit, but how wonderful would it be to see this new church ‘Tidal’, birthed in a wave of salvations!
If we ever thought we were in control of our own lives, this microscopic virus has reminded us that we are not. However, when our rhythms are interrupted and the things we took for granted suddenly change there is an opportunity for God to get our attention.
Charles Spurgeon, the 19th Century English pastor called the “Prince of Preachers”, once said:
“Prayer moves the arm that moves the world”.
It’s easy for us to get our heads down in seasons like this, but the Father encourages us to look up and see what He is doing. There is passion in the heart of God for broken humanity. He longs to draw the hearts of those He made to His own loving heart.
Imagine for a moment what it might look like if God moved in great power in our city right now: people’s lives turned inside out, marriages saved, children’s home life changed, the rejected finding acceptance, the addict set free, the blind seeing, hope bursting to life as people bow their knees in repentance. It would be the Kingdom of God come to the Lower Mainland.
God invites us to “move His arm” in prayer.
He invites us into partnership with Him. What a partnership! What a call!
This week we have the privilege of taking time out to pray as a church family. We’ll gather three times on Zoom to pray together, and we’ve shared a prayer guide which we hope will help you as you come to pray each day this week. You’ll find the guide in the “Resources” tab in your LifeGroup on Church Center.
How can we make the most of this opportunity to pray?
- Set aside time each day and use the prayer guide to aid you in prayer.
- Find a quiet space where you can express your heart without others overhearing.
- Start with worship – thanking Him and praising Him for all He is and has done. Seek to touch His heart rather than going through motions.
- Invite Him to speak to you, and take time to listen.
- Join in with the three prayer meetings – you’ll find your faith refreshed and your heart revitalized!
We’ll gather to pray from 8 til 9pm on:
- Sun Jan 24
- Tuesday Jan 26
- Wed Jan 27
I am so looking forward to being together before God in prayer this week with you all!
Christmas is a lonely time for many. This year, with restrictions on travel and gatherings, there are likely to be many more in our community who feel alone.
We’d love to reach out to our neighbours and tell them that they are NOT alone. The thought behind “A Christmas Visit” is really simple: we’d love to visit those around us who are lonely. We’ve produced a load of postcards with “A Christmas Visit” on the front, and on the back a space to write a short message and an invitation to our online Christmas Morning Service.Here’s how it works:
- Order some cards from the church office (you can do so on Church Center)
- Write a note on the cards saying that you’d love to pop across for a COVID-friendly doorstep visit on or around Christmas Day to wish them “Merry Christmas”. Include your phone number so they can message you.
- Pop over to those who respond positively and say hi and wish them a Merry Christmas sometime between the beginning of Christmas Eve and the end of Boxing Day. Be aware that it’s a doorstep visit, so keep a safe distance and don’t go into their home.
- You might like to mention the Christmas service (there is a link on the card).
And that’s it, really! Super simple, but a way to communicate to people that they’re not alone. Jesus Christ is Emmanuel – God WITH Us!
Do join us in in reaching out in our streets and condo blocks and let’s see what God does!
If you have any questions please pop onto Church Center and fill out the form – you can ask any questions you might have there.
In this season we have to fight for things we used to take for granted. Community was easier when we could eat together every week. On Sundays we experienced a Body which was larger than our immediate household or LifeGroup, and centred our weeks in a vibrant time of encountering the Holy Spirit and receiving the Word and ministry.
Now we have to be more intentional about our relationships. Growing in God rests more on our intentional practices than our attendance at events (and maybe it always has!).
There are spiritual riches awaiting us as we meet “together” in online Sunday gatherings, but we need to thoughtfully plan and prepare to realize those riches. The Holy Spirit is still moving, but more than ever we have to step into what He is doing. This season is an opportunity to grow spiritual muscle.
How can we make the most of our Sunday meetings online? We are used to our TVs and computers passively entertaining us. But we cannot be passive and meaningfully meet with our Father in heaven and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
God has made us a holy people: set apart and dedicated to God. If we desire the Holy Spirit to nourish our souls, kindle our affection for God, and buoy us with grace, then we need to make our Sunday mornings holy: set apart from our regular entertainment or work.Creating a new routine for Sundays
Here are some tips to get started:
Plan ahead on Saturday:
- Prepare your space for Sunday morning. Remove any distractions, and make it a space you look forward to being in.
- Set your alarm so you have time to prepare your heart.
- Print out the materials for your children and have them ready
- Plan for some enjoyment to mark the day out as distinct from every other day
Prep on Sunday:
- Get up a little earlier than you think you need to.
- Make your morning beverage and breakfast together with family or friends, whether in person or maybe online!
- Take 15 minutes before the service to read the passage and pray together with family/household members. Preparing your heart for the service will be the most important factor in how you encounter God and what lands in your heart.
- Set your children up with the materials
- Ten minutes before the service starts hop on the chat: say “Hi” and connect with others. Remember, our voices are important to one another, and just being present is an encouragement to others.
During the Gathering:
- Turn the music up loud! Don’t be afraid to sing, dance, raise your hands—remember, this time is about focussing your heart on the Lord and offering him praise. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in an apartment or at the Park Theatre, the Holy Spirit is present.
- Listen to the Holy Spirit, and as you feel prompted to share a scripture or a thought or a prophetic word pop it in the chat. Be courageous in sharing – if in doubt put it on the chat!
- Be ruthless with the temptation to multi-task! Cooking or scrolling through social media or anything else diverts our attention and means we become spectators rather than participants.
- Model participation to your children – the demonstration worship and engagement will shape them more than their activities!
After the Gathering:
- If they are happening, connect into your Cluster Zoom to pray with others.
- Maybe reach out to someone in your LifeGroup to pray for them or share something you appreciate about them.
The riches of God’s presence are innumerable. The joy of community is worth our energy.
The Spirit wants to equip and lead us. So let’s join in with faith and expectation!
This year we’re giving it all away!
Every year since Trinity began we have had a Gift Day. Gift Day is when we give over and above our regular giving as an act of faith, thanksgiving and worship. In past years we have given, for example, to local organizations that serve the poor like Union Gospel Mission, and to church-planting in Toronto, the Maritimes and Mexico. In years past, however, we have always had to use the majority of our Gift Day giving to finance the basic needs of Trinity Central Church – paying the bills.
This year is different. First, we recognize a greater need than ever around us. 2020 has been a difficult year for most people, and many are struggling financially and otherwise in Canada and around the world. We feel called to meet that need in some small way. Second, God has graciously seen to it that even in this difficult time, our giving has stayed close to our budget projections. Coupled with savings from years past, we are in a position to give away our Gift Day – so that’s what we are going to do!
We plan to give to church planting and helping the poor. In terms of church planting, we will give a significant portion of the Gift Day for the North Shore church plant that John and Kate Payne are leading. You can find out more about that by watching this video.
We are also planning to help people in need both locally and internationally. Internationally, we have a sister church in the Near East region of the world that is stretched very thin helping thousands of refugees fleeing from the conflicts in the Middle East. We would love to give to the great work they are doing. Locally, we want to bless organizations like Union Gospel Mission that care for the poor in Vancouver. Additionally, we would love to support local charities doing great work that are nominated by each of the Clusters (West, Central and North-East). If you have an idea for a charity that we could bless using Gift Day proceeds, please contact your LifeGroup leaders.
If you would like to give, just follow this link.
I’m sure, like me, that you are watching the unfolding events in the US with sadness and concern. Hearing some of the stories people have shared has taken me back into my years growing up in South Africa, where the ugly spectre of racism cast it’s dark shadow over our lives.
Apartheid was coming to an end as I was coming to the end of my student years, but our nation was broken by racism. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission unearthed stories of brutality and hatred that sometimes seemed inconceivable in our day and age. I experienced the grim reality of racism personally a number of times, and one particular story has returned to my mind this week.
I was leading the youth in our church, one of the early multi-racial churches in South Africa. One Saturday afternoon, after kicking a ball around in a park, I took a few of our young lads back to my place to make some food, hang out and pray together. Two of those lads were black, of Zulu ethnicity. I lived in a small garden apartment – a converted garage. Later that evening, as the boys left, the homeowner spotted us and confronted me.
He was outraged that I had brought the two lads onto his property. I remember the sick dawning realization of what was going on. Though I had seen racism and its effect in many ways over the years of growing up (and was surely influenced myself by the culture I was steeped in) I had never been directly in the firing line before. I realized that he couldn’t see my friends as human. He saw them as something less than that. I was told in no uncertain terms that if I wouldn’t guarantee never to do it again I could pack my bags there and then and get off his property.
As I left I realized that, though I was feeling the sting of his hatred, I was only an indirect object. My skin was white. It wouldn’t too difficult to find somewhere to stay. I was privileged.
During those years I was part of a church family which has shaped what I believe God has designed His church to be. There was something very radical about these people: as apartheid was being dismantled there was much fear of other races, and a tendency to hunker down. This church, however – Afrikaans, Zulu and English – were intentional about working out what it meant to be a Kingdom people in which every ethnicity was loved and embraced in community. It was breathtaking – and yet, oh so challenging to work out!
As a young 20-something I was seeing a vision of God’s church, in which black and white, rich and poor, literate and illiterate were joined together by being included in Jesus. Years later, as we moved to this great city of Vancouver we believed God that He would build a church of many nations and ethnicities. We believed for an expression of Gospel unity in diversity.
The early church was no stranger to racism. Peter thought of Gentiles as unclean and inferior to Jews, until God showed him a vision and led him to Cornelius’ home. The mainly Gentile churches that Paul planted and served grappled with the Judaisers, who wanted to impose their law and customs on the Gentile believers. They had to be rigorously challenged.
I often feel lacking when it comes to my understanding of the complex issues of racism in our North American Context. It’s not what I grew up with. What I do know is that God has given us an opportunity to be something that demonstrates His way of love and reconciliation. Jesus said that the church would be a city on a hill – a city that cannot be hidden. As a church we can be God’s city within our city, a city that shows a new way of being together as different ethnicities.
I pray that God will give us grace in the years to come not only to speak clearly about issues of justice, but to grow together as a multi-ethnic community which reflects the glory of Jesus’ unified bride to our city. In the midst of all we see God has put a love in our hearts – a powerful love that is by the Holy Spirit. May we be a demonstration of justice, mercy and love.
Let’s search our hearts and invite God to root out any attitude toward another human being which dishonours them.
Jesus was the only One who was genuinely superior to anyone else – He was Creator God. He was truly ‘other than’ us. YetHe emptied Himself and came to serve us, His created ones. He experienced both the rejection of His own people and the scorn of the occupying Romans who crucified Him. He allowed Himself to be murdered by those created in His own image.
But God has raised Him up. And God will raise us up as we stand in Him and for Him. Let’s take courage. Let’s speak. Let’s love one another and show the world something powerfully different!