A New and United Human Race

All Believers Are Members Of The Same Family, The Family Of Christ.

Ross Sawyers
Jul 12, 2020    59m
How can we navigate these times of racial upheaval in a loving and affirming way? This uplifting message tells us that we need to start by remembering that all believers, of every race and every ethnicity, are members of the same family, the family of Christ. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: 00:06 Let's pray together, Father, thank you so much for this opportunity to worship you and to honor your name, God, in song. And Father, I pray that all day long that as churches gather, whether online or in-person, I pray, Father that your name would be at the center and that you would be exalted and praised and lifted up, God. We're grateful for your word today, and I pray we'll be strengthened in it, and encouraged by it, convicted where conviction needs to come. And then Father, that we'd walk in the freedom that we have in Jesus. Thank you, and we just ask your spirit to move through us, whether gathered in homes, or on the road listening or right here. And we just thank you and pray. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Ross Sawyers: 01:03 Turn your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 2 verses 11 through 22, this is where we'll anchor ourselves this morning. We started last week, for those who might not have been a part, I'd encourage you, if you could, to go back and listen or watch. You know, give you a good intro to what we're speaking of, but we're thinking these weeks about race and what God has to say about it. And the way we named the series is to Lead With Love: A Biblical Perspective On Race. Each word has a meaning in that framework. We want to lead as Christians in every conversation, in every dialogue we have with people, lead with love. And the kind of love we want to lead with is a supernatural love that only God can give, that comes through Jesus Christ. And then a biblical perspective, there are a number of perspectives on race, there is a national conversation, there's an international conversation as well, going on about race, and there's a secular view of the way people think about race. But we're going to talk about a biblical perspective. What you're not hearing for the most part in the national conversation is Jesus at the center of the conversation, which makes our conversation completely different in the way that we approach what is happening across our land. And so we want to see a biblical perspective. This is not an Islamic perspective, this is not a Buddhist perspective, this is not a Hindu perspective, this is not an atheistic perspective, this is a perspective through the lens of the Bible, and the way that God has made himself known through scripture on race.

Ross Sawyers: 02:54 Last week we spoke of a life being made in the image of God, anchoring ourselves in Genesis 1:26, and then looking at the image of God. There are different ways to study the Bible, today we'll spend our time in one passage of scripture and look at a few others. Last week, what we did is we looked at a theme that runs from Genesis all the way to Revelation on the image of God. And when we think about black lives and why black lives would matter, we look at the why behind it. They matter because they're made in the image of God. It's the same conclusion we would come to as to why a brown person or a white person would matter, when we just think about those words, life made in the image of God. Each person sacred, of value, and a person to be treated with dignity. We anchored there because if we can't see every person is sacred and of value, then we're already off a lens of how God sees people, and we're asking God to help us see people the way he sees people.

Ross Sawyers: 04:04 Now, this is what I asked if you were here a week ago, or if you listen this week. I asked, would you go before God and spend time asking him to search the crevices of your own heart, to see what biases, or partiality, or prejudices, bitterness, resentments, what might be lurking in the crevices of our heart. This would be what would be not helpful, for us to immediately listen to what we spoke of last week and say, I'm good, I'm not racist, I'm not prejudice, I'm not biased, I don't have partiality in my heart and just move on. What would not be good would be to just immediately start reading more posts, and listening to more talking heads about what's going on in our culture. What we want to do before we can continue our dialogue on this issue, is to ask God to search our own hearts. Now, the writer of Hebrews in chapter 3 verse 13, says that we need to, as long as it is today, to encourage each other, and then to make sure that our hearts are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, we can easily deceive ourselves on any sin issue. And I think we could easily deceive ourselves on the issue of racism, and any kind of partiality, or favoritism, or superiority over, other people. And would you be willing, if you didn't do that this past week, this is ongoing by the way. But even ask people around you, say what are my blind spots, what are things I don't see? Sometimes our hearts deceive ourselves, and we need someone else that can see clearly to speak that into our lives. Will we have the courage to ask others to speak into our lives around this topic? We want God to search our hearts, we don't want to justify, we don't want to ignore, we don't want to rush.

Ross Sawyers: 06:35 Now, one of the questions that's out there today is why now? Why is there all of a sudden more people are interested in this topic now? Why are people willing to look at it in this moment? Jeremiah 23:29, “God says, is not My word like fire, and like a hammer which shatters a rock? A few years ago when that verse became more prominent for me, I realized that God spends a lifetime hammering away at some things in my own heart. He hammers and he hammers and he hammers, I keep hearing it in his word again and again, and finally it shatters and then I can see it. So I don't know why, there's a number of people that have been really engaged in what's going on on racial issues for a long time, and God opened their hearts at certain times, and their eyes to what they were seeing and they engaged it and are continuing to engage it. Others, in this cultural moment will engage this more than they ever have; some will continue to have a blind eye and pay no attention. I don't know why, I just know that God in his kindness keeps hammering and keeps hammering and keeps hammering, and he does it with his word, and it shatters any hardness in our hearts. So yield ourselves and follow his word.

Ross Sawyers: 08:03 I would encourage you as you continue in these days to have conversations, I'm continuing to have dialogues with black people, with white people, with brown people, with policemen, and with those in the criminal justice system, just for a wide array of perspectives, those in the business world. And each person has a unique experience they bring, and perspectives that they have, and, and it helps us to empathize and to understand and start to put together a fuller picture of what's going on. And we want to bring what we hear to God's word. I would encourage you in these days to read Proverbs today's July 12th, you could read the 12th chapter of Proverbs today, and then tomorrow chapter 13, and then chapter 14 on Tuesday. And you'll see unfold before your eyes what's happening in our culture, as you read through these words of God and ways to respond, I would hope that this can be a day where we can grieve the injustices that are done to those in the black community, and that we can also celebrate where those in the black community are thriving and things are going well. I would hope we could grieve the injustices and mistreatment in the criminal system and from police, without diminishing what is happening there that we could also celebrate and be grateful for those in the criminal justice system, and those who are police that do their jobs well, because every person is made in the image of God.

Ross Sawyers: 09:52 We look at what's happening, we begin by seeing a person that's valuable in him. Also hope in these days to suggest resources and things that might be helpful to consider, and to think about this topic, Martin Luther King, we said last week, he encouraged us to have a tough mind, to be willing, to think solidly and hard about issues, not to be soft minded, and to be tenderhearted, to have the same kind of compassion for people that Christ had. Either one of those separate is not good. Tough minded and tender hearted is a Christlike combination.

Ross Sawyers: 10:39 Well, in all the division and hurt that is in our culture, as a Christian community, how do we move towards unity? And what is actually the center of our unity? And then what even is the purpose of unity? For so many are wondering what's even going on, there's chaos in all the things happening, and that's not we're trying to figure out. What's the goal? Where are we headed? What's the point?

Ross Sawyers: 11:10 But I just want to look from a biblical perspective at the point, and what we center our unity around, and for what purpose. I've titled today's message 'A New And Unified Human Race. A new and unified human race. We'll look at it in three parts in Ephesians 2 verses 11 through 22, let's begin with 11 and 12. And a way to look at this part, we'll be thinking about the past, and in the past there's division. We're thinking about spiritual things in Ephesians 2 verse 11, Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Remember, it is therefore, remember when there's a therefore we look back. In Ephesians 2 verses 1through 10, Paul's writing and he says, now he describes their former life. And then in verse 4, he talks about being alive in Christ, "They were dead in sin. Now they're alive in Christ, by grace you've been saved through faith." So thinking back, this is what's happening now. But think back before that, remember what it was like before you encountered the grace of God.

Ross Sawyers: 12:37 Remember this is a look back spiritually, but I think one way we can think about this is to think about what the black community is asking today. They're asking us to remember, remember the past, and the division of the past. And I know a number of people are wondering, and they keep asking, why do we have to keep talking about that? Haven't we already had that conversation? People are frustrated because it keeps coming up about the past. Have you ever been to counseling? If you haven't my hunches, you know, somebody that has. And a counselor doesn't like start today and just say, let's move forward, forget everything that's happened in the past, let's just start here and move forward. That's not what happens in counseling. The counselor goes back and you remember, you remember the painful things, the hurtful things, the hard things, because in order to move forward, you have to somehow deal, grieve, lent, back here, own what's back here, and then you can settle in and move forward.

Ross Sawyers: 14:16 If we'll listen long enough, our black friends are telling us, we haven't stepped into them and with them in their past, and remembered that well, And at least try and understand the hurt and the impact of how that continues to affect today. One of the things, and some of what I've been watching, that is just hard for me to just grasp in my mind is to see a black human being chained on a platform, and being sold as a piece of property. The Jim Crow laws, those were a long time ago, why do we have to keep talking about those? To be suppressed by the written law of the land. But it's not just that, this week an article that I read, a lady who is Christian lady, early forties, the impact of things in the past still affect today. And she was explaining that at one ministry conference she was at and speaking, a man came to her and explained to her quote "that she was subhuman and that she was a different species." I'm not talking about 50 years ago, or 30 years ago, that's recent. So if we are living with the idea that racism is not a problem at some level, it would probably be good to expand our friends and people and listen to the experiences of others. She said, she's wept often after speaking at ministry events in her hotel room, they're bracing now for when white people are going to lose interest again in racial issues. And then she said, it's detrimental to someone's faith when your experience, your reality, is squashed because it's not the other person's reality. Just because something is not your reality or my reality doesn't mean it's not someone else's reality, and those are real experiences, it's real life. Remember there's division, chaos, [inaudible].

Ross Sawyers: 17:23 And we look at it spiritually here in Ephesians 2, that just gives you an idea how to think about, when he's saying spiritually, we look back as well. "Therefore, remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh." I don't think derogatory name calling across racial lines is a new thing, it's right here in verse 11 of Ephesians 2, you might read that and think, well, I don't even understand what they're saying. The Jews were considered to be the circumcision party, and anyone that was not a Jew was uncircumcision. And the Jews were using uncircumcision as a derogatory term for the Gentiles. He goes on to describe him. Verse 12, "Remember, you were at that time, you were separate from Christ. Remember, this is how it was before you encountered the grace of God. You are separate from Christ excluded from the Commonwealth of Israel. You we're not a part of God's chosen people, strangers to the covenants of promise." You weren't a part of the promises that God had made, you had no hope, and without God in the world.

Ross Sawyers: 18:28 One of the movies I would encourage you to watch, it's out, came out recently is Just Mercy. Some of you have probably watched it, if you haven't, I'd encourage you to watch it. Brian Stevenson's is an Harvard attorney, African American man, that when he came out of Harvard law school, it's his desire to help the poor. He ended up in Southern Alabama and started the Equal Justice Initiative, and was helping those who were on death row. And the stories primarily about a man that was innocent, and him fighting for this man. One of the things that Stevenson says at the end of the movie, and he directs it by the way, so I think the bulk of it is probably pretty spot on true. He said, "If you don't have hope, you lose everything if there's no hope." Remember before you encountered the grace of God, there was no hope, there was nothing. And you were without God, that word without God is the Greek word for atheist. You were without God, you had no hope, and you're without God. That's how it was before. Now he's speaking to people who now know Jesus, they've been encountered by his grace. He said, remember this, what we live in today is a world and a country that is increasingly more secular, increasingly less interested in God, increasingly without God. And when you have a culture that is without God and no hope, then the hope is in the person themselves. And in the Book of Judges at the very end, it said, "Every man was doing what was right in his own eyes." That's what we see occurring before us, that's why it looks chaotic, there's not a center. It's what everybody thinks, and it's the latest issue of the day. It could be one of God's justice issues or not, but it's chasing after something. And without God, and without hope, there's chaos and division. That actually means it's still now, it's not in someone's past.

Ross Sawyers: 21:03 Now that makes this conversation about race that we're having in these weeks challenging, because not everybody believes this is about race. As a Christian, our challenge in the moment is to sift through all the competing worldviews, ideas, and chaos, and get in the mix of the things that God is about, and one of those that we can be about is race. I believe that we're in a cultural moment of a really strong test of each of us and our faith, and those things that we've been attached to are more and more getting stripped away. And what we will discover in these days, weeks, and months ahead, is our faith and loyalty to Jesus Christ and Christ alone, or is it really tied up with a lot of other things, the past, division, but now peace. In verses 13 through 18, peace is a theme that's running through it. And this is what they have now, and this is what's available to all of us now, and many of us have experienced it and continue to do so, still others long for the kind of peace that we have. Verse 13, "But now..." These are crucial kind of words in passages like this, this is how it was, but now. In verses 1 through 10, you see in the first three verses a description of what our lives are like before Christ, and then it's but, but now you've been made alive in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:23 says, "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord." Now we can have peace, but now in Christ Jesus, you who were formerly far off from God, without God, without hope, you've been brought near by the blood of Christ. In Christ Jesus, everything converges at the cross. First Peter 2:24, "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." It's the blood of Christ, that's how we're brought near to God. "But now, in Christ Jesus."

Ross Sawyers: 23:48 Now, one of the things that we hear often in a reading, more often today than I would assume we've ever heard, is welcome and safe. I don't feel safe. I don't feel safe here. I don't feel safe enough to say something here. I don't feel welcome here. Welcome and safe. The only place that we will truly be safe is in Christ. We've been brought near, we're in Christ, Christ is in us. We're safe in Christ. Since we're safe in Christ, we can step into hard conversations, we can step into difficult moments. We're in Christ, we're safe, we're safe in him. Jesus is the one that brings us near. In order for Jesus to have done what he did on the cross, Jesus himself, was perfect. He's the perfect son of God, God himself. If not perfect, then he would not be able to bear our sins, and God's wrath on the cross on our behalf. He's perfect. This week, a CNN commentator made the statement that Jesus is not perfect. How did he come to that conclusion? Through his life, the things that he's drawn to don't match up with what God says in the scripture. Rather than concluding that there might be something in his own life that might be awry, it's that Jesus is not perfect. I wonder how many people will not be tough minded, we'll hear that, and agree. But if Jesus isn't perfect, then it's all for not the things we talk about. Our hearts break for that man, and we want to pray for him, that God would reveal himself and that he'd see the perfection of Jesus and what Jesus did to rescue him.

Ross Sawyers: 26:32 Verse 14, "For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall." Jesus Christ himself is our peace. We all yearn for peace, don't we? We desire peace in our relationships with each other. We want peace from trouble. We just want things to be okay, we want things to be at peace. But what Jesus says, and what the scripture tells us, is that he himself is our peace. And regardless of what goes on around us, that Jesus Christ himself is our peace, he's where we find wholeness, he's where we find the only peace that's available truly in him. Jesus, who is our peace, what did he do? It says, he broke down the barrier of the dividing wall. Some think that the reference here is a reference to the temple, that was the symbolic place of God's presence with his people. And the way the temple was constructed in this day, there were different courts, and they were separated by walls or barriers. And there was the court of the priest that could get in closest to the temple. There was the court of the Israelites, they could get in closest to the priests. And then there's the court of women, and they were actually a court beyond the Israelites. And then there's the court of the Gentiles, anyone that was a non-Jew, and it said that there was a sign that was posted on the wall for the Gentiles, and all they could do is look up. They were outsiders looking in, and as they looked up, they'd see a sign that said, no foreigner may enter within the barrier and enclosure around the temple, anyone who is caught doing so will have himself to blame for his ensuing death. There's this barrier, this dividing wall, to the presence of God in the temple. What are those walls today? Denominations can be walls, barriers, between Christians. Classes of people, races, politics, gender, there are more on a list and we can shake a stick at, where there are walls between each other.

Ross Sawyers: 28:56 Jesus comes in and he shows us in John chapter 4, how he breaks down those barrier walls. He encounters a Samaritan woman in public at noon in Samaria. The Jews and the Samaritans hated each other, he's not supposed to be with a Samaritan, he's not supposed to be with a woman in public. Jesus violates all that, tearing down the walls. He asked her for a drink, they have a conversation that ensues, and then she can't believe that she's actually with the one who can offer living water, can actually offer life. She goes running back to the village and she brings people from the village, the men even listened to her. Jesus ends up staying there for two days. That'd be a good model for us, wouldn't it, for people that are different than us. People that are a different color than us, a different culture than us, probably the better thing is we would invite them to our home, rather than saying, hey, I'm coming to stay at your house for a couple of days. But that's a way for walls to come down, is to get in the lives of people that are different, that's what Jesus did.

Ross Sawyers: 30:19 Now, how did he knock these walls down and make both groups, Jew and Gentile, into one. Verse 15, he did it, "By abolishing in His flesh the enmity." By abolishing, by getting rid of it, in his flesh on the cross, the hostility and the hatred, he got rid of it there. One way to think about that abolishing, is to think about William Wilberforce. William Wilberforce was in parliament in England and the 1700s and 1800s. He's the one that brought the slave trade to an end in three days before his death in 1833, slavery was abolished in England. Eric Metaxas wrote a book about his life called, Amazing Grace. I think this is a great kind of read to think about how we impact racial kinds of injustices, we follow the model of men and women before us that have done just that. Metaxas says, I'm going to take his word for it. But he says, that Wilberforce is the hinge in history, on the mindset of people with slavery. Slavery has been a part of civilizations as long as we can go back, but he credits Wilberforce with being the hinge on which people finally saw slavery as bad. It was a mindset shift, they actually saw it as wrong, where the previous mindsets were this was just necessary for civilizations to thrive. He abolished it. Jesus abolished all hostility and hatred by satisfying divine justice. He set aside as we see here, the ceremonial law, so that was no longer a way to try to work your way into relationship with God. He set aside the moral law, not as a law that we no longer keep, but as a means to salvation. And that the only way in to relationship with God is through Christ. "He abolished in his flesh, the enmity." So that in himself, look what he does, that he might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.

Ross Sawyers: 32:50 What did he do at the cross? He established a new race. I started by saying, the big idea in here, is a new and unified human race. We're talking about the biblical perspective, not a national perspective, not a social construct, a biblical perspective on race. Adam and Eve are the parents of one human race, there's one human race. A flood came, and that human race continued through Noah, his family, every one of us descendants from the same parents, one human race. But in God's beauty, he made multiple ethnicities and cultures among that one human race. It's like this tapestry that we started with a week ago, where God is weaving together a family of people to be his own, from cultures and ethnicities all over the world. It's one human race with multiple ethnicities, multiple cultures and languages, to be celebrated and enjoy. When we understand the biblical perspective of the human race, then we know that skin color is not the problem, sin in the human heart is the problem. And sin in the human heart breeds, partiality and builds walls, it groups and it labels, it finds a sense of power and superiority over another, it's the root of racism. If the human heart doesn't change, then impartiality, bias, prejudice, racism doesn't change.

Ross Sawyers: 35:03 Now we can move from the line of Adam, our human parents, the one human race. And Jesus, he's described as the second Adam. And there's actually a new race, a new people established in the line of Jesus. And the way we move into that line is Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace you've been saved through faith." Faith in what Jesus did, the perfect Jesus, faith in what he did on our behalf. Then we shift from being in the line of Adam, into the line of Christ, and it's a whole new race that he's creating in the line of Christ. Peter describes it, First Peter chapter 2 verses 9 and 10, "But you are a chosen race, (a chosen race) a royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, (why) so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." That's why we've been made a new race, that we might proclaim him, here's where the unity comes. And then Galatians 3 verse 28, it says, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." We're equal the foot of the cross. In the Bible museum in Washington, DC, if you ever get an opportunity, I would encourage you to go to that museum. Did you know that there were slave Bibles? Slave owners cut things out of the Bible that they didn't want the slaves to read. Galatians 3:28, would be one of the verses that's removed from the slave Bible. Can you imagine?

Ross Sawyers: 37:29 There's a unity that's found in Christ. He establishes peace. He makes every part of culture, every race, as we talk about race, into one. We're one, we're unified in Christ, unity is centered on Jesus. I asked that question to start, where does our unity center? It centers on Jesus. Verse 16, "And might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross." How are we brought together? We're brought together through his reconciling. The word reconcile means, two parties that are hostile are now brought together as friends, they're no longer hostile anymore. When we come to Christ, we're no longer enemies and rebels opposed to him, rather, we're friends with him. And at the same time, it drops the walls between other people. We understand what it is that God did for us, then we see with a new lens to those around us. Justice and mercy come together at the cross, Jesus took on all the hostility so that you and I could be freed, freed and forgiven. Now we're able to do the same.

Ross Sawyers: 38:49 Do you remember the Charleston church shooting a few years ago? An African American church, and a young white man came into the church and he wanted to join their Bible study and they had him in the Bible study, and then he pulled out his weapons and he killed nine African-American people. An amazing thing happened a few days later, the family members of those who were killed, spoke and said that they forgave this young man, like they told him directly. And at the same time, they're desiring for him to know Jesus the way they do. We can learn from people in the black community. I wonder if nine of us were at a Bible study, nine white people, and I wonder if a black man came in and killed all nine. I wonder how we would respond? And if we would forgive, and yearn for the salvation of the one who killed, as this community did. That's what happens at the foot of the cross.

Ross Sawyers: 40:16 That's why in Second Corinthians 5, and thinking about reconciling, it's where Paul talks about the reconciling to God again, he talks to us about being reconciled to him. And then he says that you and I, as followers of Jesus, and now we, when we're this new human racing Christ, that we together are ministers of reconciliation. Meaning, we're ambassadors, is what he says. Now, when we think about ambassadors, we think about someone in our country that represents us in another country, there's one ambassador per country. And sometimes I think that's how we think about communicating our faith, we think there's a few ambassadors that do that. But no, all of us are ambassadors for Christ, communicating the message of Jesus. What did Jesus do in 17 and 18? He came and he preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have our access in one spirit to the Father. What did Jesus do? He himself is peace, he didn't just walk around and hope someone would figure it out, he preached it, he talked about it. In the same way, once we experienced the peace of Christ himself, then we too preach, we too proclaim, we're representatives of God on this earth. Jesus, the one access to the Father.

Ross Sawyers: 41:47 I've got a question that will create some discomfort perhaps for your family, for your life group, for you and your friends. Would you be game this week to ask, do you really believe that Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life and the only access way to the Father? I wonder how many people actually really believe what the scripture say about who Jesus is. And I have a reason for asking that question. I think that what I hear often today is well, I've got friends that are different religions, or I've got friends that do this, and I just can't imagine that that they would not be on their way towards God in heaven. But either what God says here is true, or it's not. We don't base what is truth here on anything else around us, we start here and move out with the truth. Do you believe that? And I think if we believe it, we'd be more compelled to share it because we really understand the stakes for someone else.

Ross Sawyers: 43:21 I met with two college students the other day, one of them is a Christian, and he's a black man. And it was just an incredibly insightful time with him. But I loved what he said, one thing he does, he'll go to the protests, and when he's walking in marching and he'll share his faith with those that he's marching with. That's bringing the gospel to bear, i's bringing the good news of Christ to bear on this conversation. We have something to offer on the cultural conversation of race, we have Jesus to offer. Yet, Jim Dennison in his article this week said quoting Barna, "That almost half of millennials say that evangelism is wrong. And then only 1 in 10 people who attend church say they've had at least one active conversation about Christ in a month." That's a really low number of people that are actually speaking about Jesus with other people. I'm bringing to the table something different about race, I'm asking us to search our own hearts, to pray, and to build relationships in a way, cross culturally and across racial lines, to bring Christ into the conversation. That changes everything, we unify around Jesus and for what purpose to turn around and speak of Jesus. And instead of sitting around watching TV or reading our posts, waxing eloquent, and bloviating about everything that we believe is really going on, could we not spend better time in increased prayer for what's happening, increase God searching our hearts, and building relationships and actually talking about Jesus in those relationships. That's where real change happens.

Ross Sawyers: 45:30 Paul said in First Corinthians 2:2, "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. We can talk about theories, we can talk about all we want to talk about, but somewhere we need to make a run towards Jesus, that actually changes it. And you can know, if you have the courage, in Romans 1:16, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel for it's a power of salvation to everyone who believes, the Jew first and also the Greek." You can just know, if you have the courage to have those kinds of conversations that in First Corinthians 1:18, "The word of the cross it's foolishness to some, but it's the power of salvation to others." This is where our hope lies, we pray for God to raise up workers in the harvest. Paul says in First Corinthians 1:24, "That he's working for the joy of others." When we're working out there for people to know Jesus, we're working for their joy. But do you know what, if you don't believe that first for yourself, you won't be working for someone else's joy in Christ.

Ross Sawyers: 46:52 The last thing that he speaks of in this passage in 19 through 22 is a future, and it's a future of belonging. For the past is it's division, it's chaos apart from God. Now we have peace, no matter what's going around us because peace is in Jesus. But there's a future, ad there's a belonging that's begun now for those who know Jesus. Now this passage flows, remember, but now, so then. In verse 19, "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household." This is our identity in Christ, this is our primary identity. What did he say in verses 11 and 12? We were strangers before, no longer. This is the idea of a refugee or an asylum seeker, they're displaced, they have nowhere else to go, and they're wandering in another country, and they're longing for that day when they become a citizen of that country, when they receive a passport in that country, in where they can rebuild in that country. A stranger and an alien lives in a country, and doesn't have the same rights as everybody else in that country, it's a superficial kind of citizenship. He's referring spiritually, and we want to work for the good of the city, we want to work for the good of our country. We want to bring the kingdom to bear on all that is today, with our eyes set on where our real citizenship lies.

Ross Sawyers: 48:34 In Philippians 3:20, "We are citizens of heaven, that's where our citizenship lies, and we are saints." This is how God sees us. "And we're a part of a family.", God says. This is our identity, our citizenship is in heaven, we're in Christ, and we're saints, and we're part of a family. And when families are healthy, they care for each other. And when there's a family member, that's hurting the family rallies around the hurting person. Brothers and sisters in Christ in the a black community, for many are hurting. As a brother and a sister in the same family of the new and unified human race in Christ, we no longer just look out for our own interests, but for the interest of others. How do we get in the mix with those who are hurting? And then he describes for us in verses 20 through 22, that we are like a temple, and God is dwelling in the temple. No longer in a physical locale, but in people. Living, organic, growing, people in Christ. His word is the foundation, Jesus is the cornerstone, so that it's stable. That's the stability that we have today, is Jesus. He's the foundation, if you feel unstable, Christ is a solid rock on which we stand, not anything else. We belong, we belong in the spirit, and we're together, the scripture says. True unity is centered on Christ, and it's about advancing the glory of God's name, it's about increasing in our love for God, and it's about increasing in our love for each other.

Ross Sawyers: 50:59 I don't know if this is the best way to say this, or ask this question, it's the best I can do with it. I'm concerned in the days ahead, and I wonder if we're too late in the racial conversation to have a genuine Christian unity. I hope not, but I've wondered when persecution amps up for Christians, which it is, and it will, will Christians of all colors unite together in Christ and walk hand in hand as family, or will we be divided, even as Christians, among racial lines? We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand. I hope we can move to a day where we're not talking about us and them, they, in Christ, we are we. The Christian community, the more and more people that come to Christ, become a part of where genuine unity can occur, and we have common purpose. Every person in the human race created in the image of God, each of us equal at the foot of the cross. Receiving what Jesus did at the cross, we become a new race, Christ is the head. Now each of us, regardless of culture or language...which by the way, culture and language, which makes us more full, and which we ought to celebrate. And as Tony Evans said, "We ought to celebrate anything that is not sin." And I would encourage you, if you can listen or read anything that Tony Evans is saying about the culture, systemic injustice, injustices, racism right now, biblically anchored, good stuff to hear. But brothers and sisters celebrating each other, and who we are in Christ, and what our differences are in language and culture. And then, the way we love each other, and meet the needs of each other, and get into the hurts and pains of each other, and actually do something about it. When a world that is skeptical of Christians, and thinks the only thing we are as hypocritical, judgmental, anti this and anti that. then a watching world will see a supernatural love that can only flow through those who know Jesus, know that we love, care, and meet the needs of each other.

Ross Sawyers: 54:31 Let's pray together. Father, thank you for the opportunities we have to struggle with challenging and hard issues, and then to be anchored and tethered to your word, God. And Lord, I pray that all of us would find encouragement today, I pray any that don't know what it is to know you that today would be that for them, a genuine entering into relationship with you, God. Father, I pray for those of us who do, that we would continue to search our own hearts, allow you to do that in us, be willing to confess, repent, and free us up. Father, help us to love well and to step into relationships that are different than our own, lead us into those, help us not to force those or feel guilty about something or be manipulated into something. But God, out of our love for you, will you lead us in the ways you want us to go. Father, I pray today that you would destroy the pride and the arrogance that would cause us to not even be willing to search our own hearts. Will you destroy biases, impartiality, and prejudices, and bitterness, and resentment, and favoritism, superiority, any sense of power over somebody else to take advantage and exploit. Instead, Father, help us with Christ in us to humble ourselves, to go low, to serve, to meet needs, to listen, to pray, to work for the joy of every person across racial lines. I'm going to pray that in Jesus' name.

Ross Sawyers: 56:23 Let's be quiet before the Lord. and certainly you'll need way more time than this, but hopefully it can be just a brief spot to think about the things God might be saying.

Video Plays.: 57:11 They are thugs. They are racists. They should comply. They should just leave us alone. They are ruining our my country. They are killing my people. They, one of the most devastating words in the English language, tossed out carelessly to categorize entire collections of people. They, is a lazy word, slurred by those who would rather sit back and cast judgment than stand up and do the hard work of getting to know people different from themselves. They, is a killer of compassion, an executioner of empathy because you can't feel what someone else feels without first recognizing that that someone else is real, not a hashtag, not a meme, not an image on a screen, but a human being just like you and me. They, is antithetical to the gospel because it reinforces the fallacy that at our core, we are somehow different from one another. Yet, as I read the word of God, I see a different plural pronoun at play, we. As in, we are all dead in our sins and trespasses, we have all fallen short of the glory of God, we are all desperately in need of a savior. You see, there is no room for they at the foot of the cross because without Jesus, we are all the same, we are all dead. But God, being rich in mercy because of his great love, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. By grace, we are saved. It doesn't matter if you're black or white, male or female, citizen or immigrant, Democrat or Republican, convict or Crusader in Christ. We share a common identity, we are children of God, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, we are one, unified, reconciled redeemed. So church let us be about work of our Father, the ministry of reconciliation, understanding that unity is at the center of God's plan. It is his heart, it's why Christ came, that we might be made one with God and one with each other, for the glory and honor and praise of his name now and forever. Amen.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051