My friend Pastor Kevin Yoho recently posted some thoughts on the situation in Ferguson and the surprising (mostly) non-response from churches in the area. You can read his thoughts here: Ferguson Hope. Not Wanted: Churches Doomed Under the Dome.
I wanted to add two comments from my conversation with him:
Just read your article and I would agree that many churches are trapped by an inverted mindset, which keeps them, as you said it “under the dome”. If causes like racial reconciliation are ancillary to their main goal, then the tepid response we see is unsurprising, but if people understood that one sign of the gospel they proclaim is racial reconciliation, because it demonstrates that the Kingdom of God is at hand with Christ as Lord over every people, tribe, tongue and nation then all of a sudden serving our brothers and sisters of other races, ethnicities, languages, etc becomes essential to Christ’s call on our lives, our congregations and our witness for the gospel.
A quick thought on privilege—as I understand it, privilege is not a problem except that people do not realize what privilege is for. It is not meant to be solely for their own good, but to be exercised in love towards those who do not have it in order to lift them up. I think for example of the apostle Paul who had the privileges of being a Roman citizen, but chose to exercise those rights in order to advance the gospel and for the good of the believers he was serving (e.g. demanding a public apology from the high officials after they wrongly beat and jailed him so that the gospel and the church would be vindicated in the sight of everyone). Likewise believers of privilege today are able to use the preferences and status afforded to them to speak for those who have no voice and to defend the rights of the poor and the oppressed. This is precisely what their “kingly” privilege is for (cf Proverbs 31:8-9).
Thanks for sharing your post!
This TED talk explains my thoughts on leadership well:
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. (Psalm 89:14)
Righteousness is a beautiful thing. Using power to love others is foundational to leadership.
Being part of an Indonesian American church, I found this article quite challenging:
A Theological Challenge to Second Generation North American Ethnic Asian Churches
The article uses some technical language, so let me give my hopefully simplified less technical summary:
When people first immigrate to North America and congregate to form ethnic churches, they do so out of necessity because of the language barrier. When they raise children those children speak English fluently. Yet when the church remains mostly centered on its cultural heritage (ethnocentric), it undermines its true identity, which is catholic (universal, including believers of all ethnicities) and apostolic (sent to proclaim God’s Kingdom and reflect what it is like today).
So the question is: Why should an ethnic church be segregated from the wider church when language is no longer a barrier (which it is not for the children of immigrants)?
The author believes that ethnic churches stay that way mostly to preserve language and culture, which over the long term is unsustainable. I would add the major consideration of keeping families together, but this is not addressed in the paper.
The author challenges churches to embrace their biblically defined identity. By doing so, they become a witness to the kingdom of God in which people from every culture and language worship God together.
I would want to extend the challenge of this paper to all churches and not just “second generation ethnic Asian churches in North America” given the possibility of using technology to help overcome the language barrier.
What if churches could be widely multilingual? Since God’s Kingdom is multilingual, does that mean they should be multilingual?
My dear readers, apologies for not posting in awhile. I went on an unexpected trip to Indonesia a few weeks ago and needed time to recuperate after returning. I’ve also been working on something that will “help followers of Jesus fulfill their priestly ministry” (i.e. help you pray) and that’s been keeping me from writing. (I talked a little bit about some relevant questions in my post “Can computers pray?“).
Since this is Holy Week, I wanted to share a post from Desiring God I found helpful: Every Calvary Step was Love. It highlights Jesus’ freedom and intentionality in going to the cross to die for his people and after reading it, my heart was warmed with worship because there is no other explanation for what Christ has done than his own steadfast love and faithfulness towards us.
May you be filled with Christ’s love this week and always!
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:1-11)
I really liked this line from Tim Keller’s blogpost on “How Faith Affects Our Work“:
Second, your Christian faith gives you a new spiritual power, an inner gyroscope, that keeps you from being overthrown by either success, failure, or boredom
Have you experienced the gospel’s power to drive you through the ups and downs of work and life? Reading through my journal entries this passed year, I’ve found it to be so time and time again. Indeed, it seems to be the common experience of Christians since perseverance through suffering is how the power of God is revealed in our lives. If you haven’t experienced this, trust in Jesus and you will receive the Holy Spirit who will turn every trial for your good. And if you already have, take some time to think about it and rejoice in God’s grace in your life :).
On another note, I’m sorry I haven’t consistently been writing–I’ve been pre-occupied with technical projects (using the brilliant d3.js library) and serving Christians at Amazon through our Theology of Technology discussion group. I hope to post the notes from these discussions in the coming weeks.