Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church, speaks on abortion in this video that exploded in popularity last week. Well worth a few minutes of your time.
This past week marks one year since the death of Mike Brown. How should you respond to Ferguson aftermath?
I grew up in St. Louis, in a placed called “North County,” about 15 minutes away from Ferguson. I lived in North County most of my adult life until moving away for college. Having spent most of my life in NoCo, as they call it, these are familiar grounds. And I know about the hardships of this area: my uncle was innocently murdered when I was in 4th Grade by a stranger over some chump change.
I’m not saying I’m the most qualified to write this post. But I’m certainly not ignorant. I’m not on the outside looking in, I’m on the inside crying out.
So what should you do?
Last year I wrote a response post right after Michael Brown’s death. My aim was to challenge Christians to respond in a proper, godly way. But now that it’s been over one year, I think we should revisit the question: How should Christians respond to Ferguson?
Here’s at least 6 ways:
1) Continue to pray.
As soon as you mention prayer, some Christians reply, “I know, I know. But what else can I do.” If this is your attitude, you don’t understand the importance (or power) of prayer. Sure, activity is crucial. You can’t just sit around and do nothing. But to think lowly of prayer is to think lightly of the Savior — the one who is ready to grant requests according to his will for those who ask, seek, and knock. Pray for humility, for reconciliation, for wisdom, for love, for help. Prayer is the first step.
2) Perform a self-examination (again).
It’s easy to criticize the media, but this is of no value to you if you don’t examine your own heart. Do you struggle with racism? Do you racial-profile others? Do you show favoritism to your race? Others might not know, but God does. Confession and repentance is the fist step for healing.
3) Start a racial dialogue.
I think a “Win” in the past year has been the increased emphasis of CNN and Fox News and other media outlets on having more conversations about race, social justice, and the like. Sure, the info is sometimes incorrect and biased. But at least a discussion is happening, and the emphasis being made more prominent. The media — and Social Media — are talking.
What about you?
You probably won’t be on CNN this week. But you can have a dialogue with your neighbor.
One week after the shooting, I went to a gym in North County. Eager to learn, I pursued a dialogue with an African-American about the situation. I was hesitant and timid and didn’t know if he would reply in an adverse way. But he didn’t. I asked a ton of questions about his upbringing and negative experiences. I wanted to know what it was like to walk in his shoes. And I learned a lot.
That one conversation taught me more about race and injustice than all the articles I read combined.
The good news is that you can do the same.
Can you have someone of a different race over for dinner this month? I promise you won’t regret it.
4) Build multi-ethnic churches.
I’ve been in the church since 7th grade, visiting dozens and dozens of churches in my lifetime. The number of times I’ve been the only minority in the room is staggering. This is a problem. Pastors in St. Louis — and all around the world — should be committed to building multi-ethnic churches.
During a Q&A session, a pastor asked MacArthur for advice because his church was struggling with evangelism, seeing very few people converted. “The first thing I would do to help is hire someone with the gift of evangelism on my staff,” replied MacArthur. He explained how this can ignite a fire within the church staff, and the church itself.
This is won’t always be available. But if he or she fits the biblical qualifications, I can see how hiring a minority on staff can help promote the cause of the pursuit of multi-ethnic churches.
5) Start gospel-centered racial justice movements.
Many movement promoting racial justice have sprung since Mike Brown’s death, with Black Lives Matter rising to prominence. This is good. It’s a healthy sign that people are being shaken out of apathy, and are moving towards activity. But here’s the deal: apart from a gospel-centered moment, the impact of various movements will be limited. What people need is not just behavior modification, but heart transformation. And that power is only available through the gospel.
[Tweet “”What people need is not just behavior modification, but heart transformation.” – @DavidQaoud”]
6) Preach the gospel.
Racism exists because of sin, and Jesus is the solution. Even John Piper admitted to growing up racist, and I have had my battles, being picked on from multiple ethnicities. The solution? Preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Good News preached and taught through the power of the Holy Spirit is what will change our racist tendencies, and provoke a love for one another. Not gonna lie: a part from Jesus changing my heart, I would be a racist, prideful jerk. Jesus is — and will always be — the solution.
7) Continue to press forward and look to eternity.
Call me pessimistic, but I’m not sure we’ll ever see a remedy this side of things. Even without violent or prejudicial actions, racism exists because of sin, because of you and I. It’s easy to point the finger. But we should be looking in the mirror. And this sin is not going away, not until Jesus returns.
And he is. His perfect life, death, and resurrection has made a way for God’s people to live forever with him. One day, in a way that I don’t understand, all this wrong will be made right.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall their be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
All the tears shed from injustice and racism will one day be wiped forever. Until then, press on.
I was 18 years old and just finished my freshman year of college. Never have I felt more misunderstood.
I did an internship with a church after the spring semester, where one of my tasks was to preach a sermon — my first sermon. I was elated to be speaking, even it was just in front of a few other interns.
My text was Matthew 1:18-25, a text that teaches that Jesus is God, and Mary isn’t, though admittedly this is not the main point of the text. Nevertheless, I prepared and prayed as best as I could, gave the sermon, and we finished the day. I was grateful for the feedback.
Until I got home.
I had the audio recorded on purpose so that I could have some family members listen in — both, in this case, happened to be strict Roman Catholics. Not thinking that the whole “Mary’s not God” thing would be an issue, I played the sermon proud as all get-out. Ten minutes into the sermon, though — or maybe just a few minutes, I don’t remember — one family member criticized me for having wrong theology, because I mentioned in passing that we shouldn’t pray to Mary. They told me I should stop going to my Evangelical Protestant church. They made me turn off the sermon because they were sick of listening to me. My family didn’t like my sermon.
Have you ever felt misunderstood?
Jesus Was Misunderstood
Jesus was misunderstood almost incessantly. Here’s three sets of people who misunderstood him:
1) Jesus’ neighbors misunderstood him. In Mark 6, on a Sabbath day, Jesus taught in a Synagogue, where onlookers and hometown villains listened in. “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And they took offense at him” (Mark 6:3). Jesus’ neighbors didn’t get it.
2) Jesus’ family misunderstood him. Skip back three chapters. The crowds gathered by Jesus near his home because they wanted a taste of his public ministry. The crowds were impressed, but Jesus’ family were not: “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). He was the Christ, but his family thought he was crazy.
3) Jesus’ friends misunderstood him. Jesus explains to his disciples God’s plan for Jesus in Matthew 16 — the plan to be crucified for the sins of God’s people. This plan is not up for debate. But Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends, thinks he knows better: “And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22).
Feeling misunderstood? Take heart — you have something in common with Jesus.
How You Might Feel Misunderstood
You might be single, and people keep asking you when you’ll get married. You want to — but it hasn’t happened yet. You don’t know how to explain yourself to family and friends, who thinks there’s something wrong with you because you’re still single.
You might be married. You’ve been trying for a long time to have kids. It hasn’t happened, though you’ve been crying out to the Lord for help. “How come you guys aren’t pregnant yet?”, ignorant friends ask. You sigh and try to change the conversation. Talking about it hurts too much.
Or you might be going through a trial, making a change in your life, or you’ve decided on a route that makes others scrath their heads. You feel, as they say, deeply misunderstood.
God Knows Everything
You’ve heard of this word before, but let’s bring in the “omniscience” of God. In his magnum opus Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem defines omniscience as, “God fully knows himself and all things actual and possible in one simple and eternal act.”
Elihu says that God is the one who “is perfect in knowledge (Job 37:16), and John says “God knows everything” (1 John 3:20). In short, omniscience means that God is all-knowing of everything — past, present, and future.
Why is this comforting?
It’s comforting because God knows everything about you.
He knows the tears you’ve cried. He knows your groanings, your aches, your longings. He knows about your sighs in the middle of the night. He knows the deep desires of your heart. No detail is overlooked, there’s nothing about you that he doesn’t know. Everyone in your life might misunderstand you, but God never will.
A midst everything you’re going through — and all the times you’ve ever felt misunderstood — you should take heart because God sees, knows, and cares. As Mike Cosper says, “In Christ, we are never misunderstood.”
Post your comments below.
Dear Pastor Mark Driscoll,
I remember the first time I heard you preach. Honestly, I didn’t like it.
I was a young Christian in college and my roommate kept raving about this preacher from Seattle with a fast-growing Church. He suggested that I listen to you, and he finally convinced me to give it a shot. I thought the content was good, but felt like you used too many jokes. It just was a turn off for me. I wasn’t used to that style.
But something in me wanted to give it a second chance. And boy, was I glad that I did.
I went to a secular University. As a fairly new Christian, the first year of college was a trying time in my faith. I just got baptized the previous month and felt strong starting the semester, but my passion would quickly fade as attacks from the enemy engulfed me in the first week. Living in the unisex dorms, the sexual temptations were massive. Marijuana and alcohol were offered to me almost on a daily basis. Add that to the fact I didn’t have a strong community of faith yet, and one could easily see that I was starting to drown.
I secretly wanted to backslide and indulge myself into sinful activities. I thought, “I’ll just do my own thing for four years, and come back to the Lord after college.” But the Lord had other plans.
The Jesus you preached in your sermons seemed way better than a life of sin. The Holy Spirit used you to open my eyes to the beauty of the gospel, and I began to see Jesus as the great Treasure of the Universe, not just some add-on to my life. Indeed, it was a thrilling revelation.
I remember reading, “A Book You’ll Actually Read on The Old Testament.” I was 20 years old. I think I read it on one sitting. Up to this point of life I hardly read any books, but this book opened my eyes to not only the necessity of reading, but the beauty of it, and propelled me to become an avid-reader. I think I have read almost 100 books since.
What else can I say?
- You introduced me to the New Calvinism theology, something I am extremely passionate about.
- You introduced me to Christ-centered preaching.
- You introduced me to missional living, and showed me that all Christians are missionaries.
- You introduced me to biblical masculinity and what it means to be a godly man.
- You introduced me to the Church — and how we all should love, cherish, and serve the Bride.
And the list goes on and on.
I don’t know what to believe when I read stuff online. I’m not sure how many people you’ve hurt — or helped. I’m not sure what your salary is. I don’t know what your private life is like. I don’t know how you treat your family. I don’t know what you did with the money of Mars Hill. I don’t know what you plan on doing next. There’s a lot of things I don’t know, but there is one thing that I do know: Your ministry helped save and sustain me during the most difficult time of my life. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
I’m sure you are unlikely to read this, but I felt like I needed to write it. I wanted to write something positive about you amid all the negative that is going around — which is a lot, and probably more than you deserve.
Blessings in the gospel,
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I grew up in St. Louis and the music genre of choice was usually Hip-Hop. I listened to it before football games, before work, in the car, after school, almost incessantly. Hip-Hop makes my soul leap. It gives me goosebumps, inspires and motivates, and even helps with grief. The punch lines, the wordplay, the metaphors, the passion, the beat — to me, it’s the best. When that “one part” in the song hits, It’s almost like I forget about everything else.
When I became a Christian, though, things changed. My desires shifted. How I viewed my body, money, women, and my life altered. The same rap lyrics I once loved I now viewed differently. Let’s be honest: much of the secular (for lack of a better word) rap content is contrary to the things of God. But even though I do not advocate nor agree with what many of them say, I do occasionally listen to it. And though I don’t admire them in the sense that I would want to be like them, I do admire their skill-set and can’t help but recognize it. It’s a gift from God. It’s total common grace.
Then I tried listening to some “Christian Rap.” And man, was it terrible.
One Psalmist tells us to “play skilfully” (Psalm 33:3). It doesn’t matter if we are Christian Artists; if we are not skillful, maybe we should consider doing something else. Don’t use “I want to do this for the Lord’s glory” as an excuse for incompetence. Get honest feedback from fellow Artists and examine the fruitfulness your work brings. You don’t have to be the best, you just have to be competent. Because we don’t simply need more Christian Artists, but rather more skillful Christian Artists.
Moreover, though I was off to a rough start, things got better as my search for skillful, Christ-exalting Hip-Hop continued.
Someone introduced me to Lecrae. And that’s when “my whole life changed.”
Soon thereafter, I heard Trip Lee. Then The Ambassador. Then it was Shai Linne and Tedashii and This’l and J’Son. And now, its people like Jackie Hill, people like Andy Mineo, people like Derek Minor.
The list seems to go on and on. There are many outstanding record labels like Reach Records, Lampode, and Humble Beast. I’ve been to many of these Hip-Hop concerts. I met and prayed for Lecrae once. I just got back from Winterjam a few weeks ago. I see the tweets, the record sales, the blogs. Most importantly, from my view (a small view), I see the impact. From across the globe, I’m seeing and hearing and listening to stories of thousands of Christians all-over the world with a passion for Hip-Hop music who are being changed and greatly inspired to love God and love people more all because of the music. Sanctification is happening. A passion for revival is stirring. People in the urban context are relating like they’ve never related before. For the good of people and the glory of God, this music and these Artists are influencing many to become more like Jesus and share Jesus with others, and for that I can’t help but feel a deep, real, and satisfying sense of gratitude. That’s what I feel. I am so grateful to God for the Artists he is raising up, and the lives he is changing.
Post your comments below.