This week was the last sermon in our Precious in His Sight series. We’ve been looking at the history of race in America and the church with the hope of finding a gospel answer to racism and hatred on our communities. This week, Michael Bailey took us to a practical relational level to help give us understanding on how to respond to racism and division amongst God’s people. He started by taking us to Ephesians 4:1-6…
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one god and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
We have been called by God Himself to God Himself. And furthermore, we’ve all been called to God by the same way, by the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the power of the Spirit of God. Paul has given the church in Ephesus four virtues that we are all to walk in as Christians in an attempt to live according to “a manner worthy of the calling” we have all received from Jesus. These virtues will help us to see the imago dei (the image of God He places in all of us) in everyone around us, and will help us as we try to kill division and racial discord in our communities. Here are the four virtues Paul offers:
Humility- Paul tells us that to practice humility is to not think of yourself more highly than you should. We apply gospel-driven humility by keeping a pattern of self-suspicion. Don’t assume that you’ve always got the right answer, or that you’re always taking the correct posture in relating to someone else. Know that you always have something to learn from the gospel and from the people around you.
- Gentleness- This is using the least amount of force necessary. We communicate and confront with as much gentleness and with as little force as possible. We must know that our words have immense power (James tells us our words are like fire). Gentleness doesn’t mean being passive or soft. Jesus knew when to be still and when to chase heretics out of the temple with a whip. We should know the difference as well.
- Patience- This is bearing with one another in love. Bailey gave us two terms to help us understand biblical patience: longsuffering and forbearance. We practice patience by a willingness to longsuffer (suffering over an extended period of time) and by practicing forbearance (a predetermined posture of grace). We apply these traits to the issues of race and division by offering a willingness to be offended, and deciding ahead of time to offer only grace towards people that offend or hurt you, knowing it might happen over a long period of time before it gets better.
- Eagerness for Unity- This is a desire to be unified more than anything else. Paul encourages us through the letter to the Ephesians by reminding us that the power of the Spirit of God, granted to us by the gospel of Jesus, is stronger to unify us than anything else that could try to divide us. We must be eager to remain unified in the Spirit despite racial divides and social climates around us.
These are the traits that are worthy of the manner of our calling. These are the traits that will shatter hostility and division in light of the gospel. They give us an ability to disagree and still love. They give us the power to be hurt, and still be unified. They give us the ability to suffer for a long time, and still desire community. There is a lot to learn from each other, and we will grow in looking like Jesus as we do.
Songs from this Week
Grace Alone- King’s Kaleidoscope
Come Thou Fount- King’s Kaleidoscope
What a Beautiful Name- Hillsong with Brooke Ligertwood
He Will Hold Me Fast- Norton Hall Band