Life Made In The Image Of God

We Must All Remember That We Are All Equal In The Eyes Of God.

Pastor Ross Sawyers
Jul 5, 2020    53m
Life can be so unfair, especially to the minorities in our country. This message takes a deep look at racism, and examines God's view on race. It reminds us that as Christians that we must all remember that we are made in God's image, therefore, we are all equal in the eyes of God. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: 00:42 Father, this morning, we appreciate the privilege and the opportunity to gather in worship in the different ways. We're gathered this morning in person, and in our online campuses, and just however someone's gathered up and worshiping this morning, we're grateful for different ways that we can be together. And Father, I pray that this morning that you would speak to us and meet us with your word and the power of your spirit. I pray, God, our hearts would be open to receive what you have, and Father, I pray we'd respond appropriately to you. We love today that you are our anchor and our rock, and you're our defense and you're our help, and there's no one to dread, and no one to fear because of who you are. And God, we ask for your help in these days to walk well and to walk in a way that advances the glory of your name. Not our name, not anybody else's name, but God that we'd walk in a way that advances the glory of your name. And Father, I pray that as we move in this particular series that our love for you would deeply increase. And I pray, God, that our love for others would increase, and we thank you for your help, and your leading. And I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Ross Sawyers: 02:22 Welcome, glad you're here. If you're at home and watching online if you would, just kind of look at whoever you're with and say good morning to them if you haven't already. If you're here, you can look around at each other, and we miss those days, I know the extroverts do, where we could get up, move around, shake hands. The introverts are just really fired up about the season that we're in, and we just leave you alone and you get to stay right where you are. But I hope that this is a morning where God is honored and that we're wide open to things that he has for us.

Ross Sawyers: 02:58 If you turn your Bibles to Genesis chapter 1 verses 26 and 27, this will be an anchoring point for us, we'll move from there through other parts of the Bible. Today, we're going to think more around a theme that runs all through scripture, as opposed to hanging out in one particular passage of scripture. In the ensuing weeks in this series, we'll look at two or three passages, and then we’ll have another day like this, where we'll spend some time in Proverbs.

Ross Sawyers: 03:29 I'd like for us to think about our main idea this morning is, life made in the image of God. Life made in the image of God. I want to say some things before we come back to that idea. We've been thinking these last several weeks about the 23rd Psalm. And this week especially, it hit me even more so, how much hurt there is right now, how much anger there is in this cultural moment, how much fear there is, how lonely people are isolated behind masks, and alone in houses and apartments wherever it might be. Divided, it seems we're increasingly more divided as opposed to unified. And that's painful, we should pause in those moments with people, wherever they are, in those kinds of emotions and thoughts. The 23rd Psalm we leaned into, and there we find great confidence, because we find confidence in the Lord himself. And he's the one that's with us, he's the one that guides us, he's the one that helps us up when we fall, he's the one there in the presence of our enemies, he sets a table for us to feast on him, and his goodness and loving kindness follows us. And we want to continue to lean into what God says in that 23rd Psalm, as people wrestle with losses, loss of life, loss of health, loss of relationships, loss of freedoms, loss of resources, and a lot of pain in our culture today.

Ross Sawyers: 05:32 Rising to the forefront in these last few weeks of everything happening, is the issue of racism in America, and all the effects of that racism. And a few weeks ago, what I said we would do is step back for a moment and not immediately jump in with the voice, so many voices were jumping in that had no business being a part of the conversation yet. And it would do us all well, when there are major issues, to step back to really seek God out, to pray. And partly what I've done these last several weeks is had multiple conversations with people of color, to try and understand more deeply what personal experiences are, and have been, and currently are. To hear different perspectives, to try and get inside the shoes of different people. We are shaped by our experiences, and the lens we look through generally is the lens of our own experience. And it's a challenge to get inside the shoes of someone else, and understand what it is that their experiences are. One thing we really need to be careful of, that's been somewhat clear to me, is we need to be really careful not to have big groupings of people and labels. That being said, I'm sure I'll say things that are labels this morning. But not every black person thinks the same, not every white person thinks the same, not every brown person thinks the same about particular issues. I've read articles, listened to podcasts, watched documentaries. And as someone noted earlier, if it's a documentary, surely it's true. Reading books, thank you for many of you, you're sending me things. And just my confession is, continue to send it, and I'm not able to read it all, it's not possible. But there's things that just strikes me that I think, alright, I think, God, you want me to read this one and that one. So I'm just praying and asking God, what are the things I need to read and watch, and what not? There's just an abundance of it.

Ross Sawyers: 08:09 One thing that I think is crucial for us in these kinds of conversations that we're having, is to listen well, and to be gentle. I started a few weeks ago, God gave me this idea, and I just want to encourage you if you want to. I'm doing a chalk talk midweek every week, it's on YouTube Twitter, Facebook. And a couple of weeks ago, I did one on Proverbs 15:1, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." It's just about two minutes long, midweek, encouragement from scripture.

Ross Sawyers: 08:44 One of the challenges in our culture around the idea and the topic of racism, is that our culture now has embraced the idea that feelings determine what is true. Rather than there being an objective truth, that then guides our feelings. That makes conversation really difficult when truth is based in every person's feelings. It's why, no matter what anyone says, we're making somebody mad. Because we're violating someone else's truth that begins with feelings, rather than an objective truth.

Ross Sawyers: 09:31 Martin Luther King writes multiple things, one of the books I've mentioned this last few weeks, it's called 'Strength To Love'. It's a series of sermons that he preached, and then they've been compiled. His wife said, this is probably the most influential work for people that read King's writings. And there are a number of things I want to highlight, in just a moment, from chapter one. To just give you an idea of what's in the book. He talks about being a transformed non-Conformist, being a good neighbor, love in action, loving your enemies, and we'll talk about some of those things in the coming weeks. He has a chapter on a Christian view of communism, which I find really interesting as I read that chapter because it's as if he's writing today about the underpinnings of Marxism that are flowing through our culture. It would be an excellent chapter to read on a biblical perspective of that line of thinking that is moving through our day. And he comes to the end of his book and he says, our God is able, and then antidotes for fear.

Ross Sawyers: 10:48 But where I want to just anchor in, before we talk about the image of God, is chapter 1, and it's called 'A tough mind and a tender heart'. And I think this is important for us to have this conversation, this is a hard topic that we're speaking of, and he talks about a tough mind and a tender heart. He draws it from the verse of scripture where Jesus says that we're to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. He describes a tough mind as those people that do hard, solid thinking. And he notes that it's rare today, that people have a tough mind, and actually do hard solid thinking to examine the facts before reaching conclusions. He says, post judge, after the facts. He describes a soft mind, and in the soft mind, he said, the soft minded person fears change is, gullible, and interestingly this is 50 years ago, accepts printed word of the press as final truth. Now our media narrative today, I'm not saying all media is bad. And it's interesting, right, because most of us will sit here and nod at each other and agree that the media paints a narrative that makes it hard to actually get to the real issues. And yet how many of us are consumed way more with the media, than we are with the God of the Bible, and the truth and the wisdom and the understanding that comes from hours of immersing ourselves in the way God thinks. The soft minded person accepts the media narrative.

Ross Sawyers: 12:38 On page four, he quotes Adolf Hitler, I use emotion for the many Hitler said, and reserve reason for the few. Social media is really good at getting everyone in a frenzy of emotion, there's reason for a few. He speaks to the tender heart, but first he describes a hard-hearted person. Remember a tough mind and a tender heart. The hard-hearted person never truly loves. The hard-hearted person misses out on friendship, lacks compassion, and uses people. Never sees people as people. So a tough mind, yes, but a tough mind and a hard-heart, no. He also says about the hard-hearted combined with the tough mind that violence becomes a means for them, but that only brings temporal victories, it never brings permanent peace. Instead, he says, it's crucial for us to combine a tough mind and a tender heart, hard solid thinking, along with compassion and genuine love for people, valuing people.

Ross Sawyers: 14:22 Which leads us to what the overall series theme is, lead with love a biblical perspective on race. Beginning today, this will be a five week series, and each word matters in the way that we themed the series. Lead, I'm speaking to you as people, that each of us can lead with love. Every person, this isn't just that you're in a leadership position, that every person in every interaction, that the way we begin an interaction, we enter it with love, we lead with love. And I'm not just talking about a cultural defining of love that is sentimental and sappy, I'm talking about a First Corinthians 13 kind of love that is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." That's the kind of love we're describing. We lead with that kind of love.

Ross Sawyers: 15:59 And it's a biblical perspective, we started by saying God's perspective and quickly moved and said, no, I want to be careful because everybody has an idea of God, some sort of God. This is a biblical perspective, a biblical lens, this is the God of the Bible that we're describing. And we're describing God's perspective on race, what his lens is, what his worldview is. Worldview matters, the lens through which we see matters. And we're talking about, as Christians, having a biblical worldview on race, a biblical perspective. The lens we look through is God's lens through the scripture, a biblical picture.

Ross Sawyers: 16:42 And let's talk about race for just a moment. I'm not sure when race came into play as a major way to categorize people, but when we think about race, according to the dictionary...When I spoke with people, I started to discover people have a different idea of what race is, and what racism is. But how do we even talk about it when we don't have a common ground that we're even talking about what it is? So race is a major grouping of humanity, it seems like the 19th century, when attempts were made to systematize racial division. Scripture speaks less about race, and speaks more about people, groups, different ethnicities, and God's design and love for all ethnicities. How would we define racism? Oxford dictionary defines it this way, it's a prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race,, based on the belief that one's own race is superior. It's a prejudice, discrimination, antagonism directed against someone of a different race, believing that we're superior.

Ross Sawyers: 18:00 Now, God is a God who is partial to no one. In Romans chapter 2 verse 11, it says, "For there is no partiality with God." And racism is not a word we see in the Bible itself. And so I was just thinking, okay, what is the biblical terminology for what racism would be today as a sin? And part of what it would be would be partial to someone else over another, it'd be that sense of superiority. And then that can play out all kinds of ways when I feel like I'm superior to someone else. It's in James chapter 2 in the sin of personal favoritism, it's favoring someone over another, in God's character he does not do that. In James chapter 2 verse 9, it says, "If we're show partiality, we are committing sin." Anytime we have a partial view, anytime we see ourselves as superior to someone else, it's sin. First Peter 5:5, where is this sin rooted, it's rooted in pride, and pride seeks to control and to have power over another. First Peter 5:5, "God is opposed to the proud, it's the humble that he's looking for." He's opposed to the proud. Racism today is both overt and it's covert. And I wonder if in a number of ways, when we search our own hearts, is it mostly covert? It's not outward, as much as it is inward. And if it stays inward, it will express itself outwardly. We have to be able to be willing to ask God to probe into the deep recesses of our hearts, to answer with integrity the question, are we biased, prejudiced, discriminatory, hateful, bitter?

Ross Sawyers: 20:10 Two questions that might help us that came from a podcast someone shared with me. How do I know if I have racism in my heart? How do I know if I have biases, partiality, prejudices towards people of color? How do I know that? A question we can ask, it's a practical question. [inaudible] What did you see parents and grandparents speak of and do with people of color? What did you see in your family line? What did you experience growing up? We get shaped, often the bulk of how we're shaped is, in those first 10 years of life. So the way it was spoken of and expressed in our families, can easily be passed on and shaped in our own minds. And then what about from friends or community that you were in, what were the kinds of things that people said? What were the jokes that people made? What were the biases? What were the prejudices there? Are we willing to ask God with integrity, search our heart?

Ross Sawyers: 21:20 Our desire is to be shaped by God in his word. To be tethered to God in his word. Our culture is untethered when it's everyone's feelings, and it's everyone's idea, of whatever. It's the day of the judges, where everyone does what's right in their own eyes. And as Christians, our desire is be shaped by God. We're all shaped by something, and it's God that we yearn for and desire to shape our hearts. In these next few weeks, we'll begin by asking a question about the image of God. Next week, we'll talk about our identity again, and then the last three weeks, we'll move more to what action would look like.

Ross Sawyers: 22:15 Now, it does no good for someone to feel forced, manipulated, or guilted into doing anything. What we're yearning for is to hear from God, to speak to our hearts as individuals, as families, life groups, 121, and what does he desire for us to do in this conversation? What actions does he desire to flow out of who we are, that will be sustainable? Guilt, manipulation, force, doesn't sustain. We want to go before God. Will you be willing today, this is really my yearning and desire for today and this week, to ask God, as the Psalmist did in chapter 139, to search our hearts? The human heart is the basic problem, are we willing to search our hearts, and ask God to probe our hearts? Are we willing to ask friends and family around us who know us? I've been asking this question to people I talk to, I say, okay, what do you see that's a blind spot for me? Where do you see something I'm not seeing, when we talk about people of color, what am I missing? Will you show that to me? Would you have the boldness to ask friends and family to help search your heart? To kind of ask questions might not normally ask, or be willing to hear observations that you've not observed? In Jeremiah 17:9, it says our hearts are deceitful, we easily deceive ourselves. And we don't want to continue in this conversation around race, unless we've examined our own hearts. We don't want to keep making assessments about this post, or this newsfeed, or this article, unless we've looked at our own hearts. Maybe you've done this, and that's awesome. If you haven't, my hope is that we would.

Ross Sawyers: 24:32 Now, I want to get into the why of Black Lives Matter. Now, when I say black lives matter, that stirred something within people. And I just wonder if for a few minutes, can we just talk about those three words and detach them from any organization, detach them from any political side, detach them from anything else, and just think about those three words. And why would someone even have to say those words, could that at least grieve our hearts for a moment, that that's even a thing? But why does a black life matter? And I want to speak these next few minutes about black lives. So if you're getting offended, when you hear something, because you don't hear me describing you in it, I'm not describing you on purpose. I want us to think about black lives for just a few minutes, lives that are made in the image of God. That's why a black life matters. If we're not anchored into what God says about a black life, then we'll fluctuate with our experiences in what we see, and what we hear, and what this story is, and what this story is, we'll just be blowing with the wind each day. There has to be an anchoring as to the why they matter.

Ross Sawyers: 26:15 Genesis 1:26-27, were you wondering, where are we ever going to get there? "Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." God created both male and female in his image, no exceptions, every person, every color, created in the image of God. God is the creator, the giver, and the sustainer of life. And what does image mean? What does it mean that we're created in the image of God? An image is designed to show the reality of that which it is an image of. God has uniquely created human beings in the image of God, to represent God, to show the reality of God. God uniquely created humans to reflect his reality, there's no other creation on earth designed to do the same thing that God has done with human beings. Part of what it means to be created in the image of God, is to have the capacity to be in a love relationship with God, to have the morality of God, to have the reason of God, and to rule over the rest of creation according to his word. There's no need, as some have noted, for any other images to be made because we are the image of God. That's who we are, we're the image of God.

Ross Sawyers: 28:20 An image of God is sacred, it's of value, dignity, and worth. To be created in the image of God means that every human being is a person of worth, and value, and dignity. Now, interestingly, the cultural research center at Arizona Christian University, they've done a report right now on America's valuing of human life, 39% polled agreed that human life is sacred. That means 61%, give or take whatever the margin of errors are, but give or take, let's just say 50% of Americans would not agree that life itself is sacred. Now, if you just put the religious people in there, 60% agree. I don't know who all the religious people are, I hope that's a whole brand of religions and that's primarily not Christians, because as Christians, our worldview from God's lens is that every person is sacred and created in the image of God. Now, they went on in the poll and said they are not sacred, but 69% concluded that people were basically good. Now, how do we conclude, in our current cultural climate where it seems like everything is amiss, that 70% say we're basically good. How does that work?

Ross Sawyers: 30:10 But I will say today that as Christians, that we should understand that every person, created in the image of God, is of value and worth. That means that Moses's Cushite wife, who was black, was a person of value, and significance, and worth. It means that the first four slaves in Jamestown in 1619, were of value, and worth, and sacred. It means that men and women, black men and women, not included in the phrase, all men are created equal, that in God's eyes are created an image of God and are worthy and valuable. It means that every emancipated slave is a person of value and worth. It means every child that suffered under Jim Crow laws, is created in the image of God, are sacred, and of value, and of worth. It means that Martin Luther King, valued in the image of God. It means the 1968 sanitation workers on strike in Memphis, Tennessee were of value. It means every black soldier who fought for the freedoms that we enjoy in our country, are of value and sacred. It means that every baby in the womb of a black woman is sacred and of value. It means that every black policemen or police woman is a value. It means every person that has been treated brutally by the police, is a person of value. It also means every person that's been treated well by the police, is a person of value and is sacred. It means every successful businessman and woman is a person of value in the black community. It means that every single mom working two or three jobs to make it work for her family and to raise her children is of value. It means that every person that is in a thriving family in the black community is a person of value. Every person, mass incarcerated, that is black, is of value, and worth, and sacred in the image of God. That's God's lens on what's happening, the image of God. Regardless of what the polls say, regardless of this survey, Christians of all people, value every life that is black.

Ross Sawyers: 33:13 Now, initially the first humans were created in God's image, and they were in perfect harmony with God. But what happened that we find ourselves in the chaos of sin that we find ourselves in, when that first sin pride and control now we're embedded in the human heart through that choice of sin, and that image of God has now been distorted, marred and corrupted. So that perfect image of God in those first two humans is now corrupted, it's marred. We see evidence of that in James chapter 3, verses 9 and 10, it's talking about the tongue, "With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way." But this is just one example of many of what's happened because of sin in the human heart. The same tongue, we can sit here and praise and thanks someone, and with that same tongue, we can curse someone.

Ross Sawyers: 34:23 A couple of years ago, I was in Memphis and went to Martin Luther King museum at the Lorraine motel where
he was assassinated. And I saw this, this was one of the pictures that was in the museum. In 1968, the Memphis sanitation workers, they went on strike and here's the signs that they held. I am a man. Think about that for a minute, why does someone have to hold a sign to try to convince us that I'm a man. These are men created in the image of God, of value, worth, sacred. And yet conditions were such that with the tongues of men, cursing them, men made in the likeness of God. Anytime we speak poorly of someone color, we're speaking of someone that is made in the image and likeness of God, that's one example of the devastation of sin.

Ross Sawyers: 35:38 Yet, God stepped in through Jesus Christ and he is now the perfect image, and representation, of God in his exact nature, he's God himself. And Jesus himself actually can be, and do, what we cannot. In Colossians 1:15, it says, "He's the image of the invisible God." Jesus is the image, he's the perfect image of God, what you and are unable to do because of our sinful hearts, God has done in Christ himself. In Hebrews 1:3, "He is the radiance of his glory, and the exact representation of his nature" This is who Jesus is. Now, when we think about this, this is when we talk about the gospel, this is actually where our hope lies today. And I don't find this in the national conversation, except for the religious things I read. And Jesus is a missing component that will actually change the human heart, and bring about the desires that we yearned for in our nation. It's only in Jesus Christ. I'm speaking from a biblical worldview, I know not everybody will see it this way. But I'm telling you today, there is a real solution to what's going on, and it lies in the human heart, and it's a heart that needs to be transformed and changed into the image of Jesus Christ himself.

Ross Sawyers: 36:52 Now, what did Jesus do? He lived an absolutely perfect life, and yet he was still willing to go to the cross and to bear our sins. And what did he bear on that cross? He bore the sin of racism on the cross, of hate, of bitterness, that's a long word, partiality, discrimination. Jesus, the perfect image of God, defaced by all of humanity on the cross. The perfect image of God bearing the ugliness, and condemnation, and sin, and guilt, and pain, of all humanity on himself. Selfishness, just pick it, all of that on the cross. But in Acts 3:19, we're told that if we repent and return, all our sin will be washed away. It's all on Jesus, he took it, it's wiped clean.

Ross Sawyers: 38:37 And instead, I'm just going to have to tell you, I couldn't figure out in my head how to draw this, so that's a tomb, it's the best I've got. Instead, Jesus rose from the grave out of the tomb, it's an empty tomb. And when we receive Jesus in faith, there's a transfer that happens all that ugly sin, that defacing, all that, Jesus took on his perfect image of God, all the distorted marred corruption of me. And he put that on himself, and then God raised him from the dead on the third day, so now this tomb is empty, it's an empty tomb. In the same way that God raised Jesus from the dead, is the same thing he does with the human hear that's dead, and now it's raised into life. That's what God does, he changes the heart so there's no longer hate and bitterness. Instead, we're a people of grace, and love, and joy, and gentleness, and forgiveness, and the list goes on. This is who Christ is, this is the life that flows through Jesus, this is what flows through a person. Now that image is restored in Christ, it's restored in him. So now we're back in harmony with God again, and the rest of our days will be spent becoming more and more like him. We're still battling some of that old stuff, and we've got Satan as an enemy that's coming against us as well, deceiving, attacking distorting, robbing little by little day by day, we become more and more like the image of Jesus. In Colossians chapter 3, it says, do not lie to one another, lay aside the old self with its evil practices, and then put on the new self, who's been renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the one who created him. We've been renewed, we've been given a new self, a new identity. So much of what's going on today is about where our identity lies, and where our identity is now in Christ once we've received him, had our sins wiped away, been forgiven. And now Christ in us starts to produce these kinds of things through our lives. So that not only can we see as God sees, but we can do as God does. And we can love and value every person in the image of God. In Second Corinthians, 3:17 and 18, it talks about us being transformed into the glory, and glory after glory in Christ. So we're more and more being transformed, and that'll finally come to bear in First John chapter 2 verse 3, we'll see Jesus just as he is. And when we see Jesus just as he is, we'll be just like him being restored, and one day, there'll be a final restoration.

Ross Sawyers: 41:54 Jesus died on that cross for every black man, black woman, black teenager, and black child. And God is in the business of raising up dead people that he created in his image, dead in sin, and being made alive in him. And God is doing that with people of color all over the world, and he's weaving together a beautiful tapestry of every color, every ethnicity, every person in the world across time. One day, it'll be absolutely perfect in the new heavens and the new earth, we are obviously not in that day yet. And do you know what's beautiful about a tapestry? You see all this side, you see the beauty of it. The other side is a little messy, it's not as colorful, there's a lot of string back there, it's kind of tangled up in places, it's a bit of a mess. This isn't the side you would hang up, or maybe today you would, this might be art for all I know. But God uses all the mess to weave something really beautiful, that's what he's doing right now. He can take everything that is just so messy right now, and weave it into something beautiful. And right now what God is doing is he's gathering up people all over the world to be a part of his family, weaving together, even though messy, one day perfect. That's the gospel.

Ross Sawyers: 44:03 And in the meantime, C S Lewis says it this way. If you have a phone and want to take a picture, I encourage you to take a picture of this quote. He says, "It's a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses. To remember that the dullest, most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature, which if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. Or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare." Next slide please. "All day long, we are in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It's in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it's with the awe, and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another. All friendships, all loves, all play, all politics, there are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations, these are mortal and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit the Immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. The voice we can bring to the table, is a biblical voice. We can bring Jesus to the table, knowing that every person has one of these two destinations. And in our lives, every day, we're helping someone to either of those. Made in the image of God, we can treat each other well. But we can't treat each other as we want to be treated, unless there's some basis for that treatment. Jesus is where we tether ourselves, we see how he treated people, and now we have a basis for which to treat others as we would ourselves.

Ross Sawyers: 46:25 Now here's the questions I have for you. We're safe in Christ, in our identity in Christ. There's a term out there called white fragility, and that just stirred something in you as well. And that says something about us, the idea is that white people are afraid to talk about race. If the term makes us mad, then that's right. Isn't it? If I'm so fragile that I can't have the conversation about race, that says something about me. But if I'm safe in who I am in Christ, I can talk about any term you want to talk about because my identity is in Christ. So let's talk about it, let's have good conversation about what that means. Some questions I would have for us to consider, do we, do you, and do I, lead with love, by first seeing each person as a valued life made in the image of God? Christ gives us a new mindset, is that the first way you see someone? This is crucial to the whole conversation about race, from a biblical perspective, how do I see a person? And I'm not asking you today, do you say, oh yeah, black lives matter, I know we're made in the image of God. Gosh, I've been waiting for this, and that's what you talked about, I already know that. No, I'm asking you for you, do you look at every person that's black first as a person of value, sacred and made in the image of God, is that the beginning point?

Ross Sawyers: 48:19 Alabama football players, and I hate that I'm having to talk about Alabama, I would rather it would have been Aggie football players that wrote it. But they wrote a poem, 13 of the players, and the way they ended the poem is all lives can't matter until black lives matter. God's perspective, is it black lives matter. I'm just talking about these three words, detach anything else you want to put with it, these three words are good words, black lives matter. And we know that in God's perspective that every life matters to him, because every life is made in the image of God. Therefore in God's perspective, black lives matter, they're made in the image of God. Now I want to ask you this question, whatever you think about those three words, do all black lives matter to you? Do all black lives matter to me? Don't go running to the next, but all lives matter. Just stop, pause, personally, in light of what God says about being made in the image of God, do all black lives matter to you? Once you've answered that question, then do all peoples of color matter to you? And what I don't want us to do is flippantly answer the question.

Ross Sawyers: 50:11 As I started at the outset, would you be willing to sit before God for a long time this week, and ask some people around you, hey, when I think about you, do I think about that black people matter to you? That you love black people personally, that you love Brown people, and then what does that look like? It's one thing to answer the question in theory, it's another thing to answer the question in what does my day to day interaction look like? What are my thoughts when I think of a black person, when I think of a brown person, when I think of a white person? If it's true that black lives matter to you personally, to me personally, if it's true that people of all color matter to me personally, and to you personally, if it's true that all white people matter to you personally, and to me, there just all in there. Pretty bold statement, black lives matter. We're just talking about black people, does every life from the womb to the most elderly of persons, do you view them as a life made in the image of God? This sets the pace for the rest of our conversation.

Ross Sawyers: 51:51 Let's pray together. Father, thank you for your mercy on us. And God, I pray as a church, I love that we've never had to shy away from things that are hard, difficult. And I pray we wouldn't shy away from this one and that we would enter the conversation, and I know that many have been in the conversation for a long time, and God that we would follow your lead. Will you first search our hearts, God, and help us come clean before you in genuine repentance if that needs to be the case. If not, let there be gratitude that there's not any biases, no prejudices, no discriminations, no exploitation of people, people of color. We're grateful Father today that as Christians we're free, and we're safe in Jesus. You've already covered that sin, so we can safely sit before you and come clean. Father, I pray for those who don't know you, who've resisted you, who don't understand who you are, who might be religious, and have missed Jesus. I pray, God, that today would be a freshness in their hearts, that they would know you, Jesus. I pray more and more people across our nations, as we go more and more secular and against you, God, that people would be exhausted by that and instead see the life that's in Christ. I'm praying in Jesus’ name.

Ross Sawyers: 53:25 Let's be quiet before the Lord, we can at least have a minute or two to begin thinking and being quiet before the Lord. And I really believe that the thing that needs to happen for all of us this week, is great time before the Lord to be quiet, and to ask him to search and examine us. So let's do that right now.

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