Tuesday, February 12, 2008
An Unbreakable Bond
So who are we? Are we white suburban evangelicals? Yes. Are we black urban bible believing Christians? Yes. Are we older believers who participated in the building of this country? Yes. Are we middle aged believers who enjoyed the benefits of the post-war prosperity boom? Yes. Are we believers who struggled to see this nation live out its ideals and the church of Jesus Christ pursue unity? Yes. Are we youthful believers striving to walk in the faith our parents passed down to us? Yes.
Who are we? We are black and white. We are young, young at heart and hitting mid-life. We are city, rural, suburban and ex-urban. We are Jewish and Arab. We are men and women. We are highly educated, somewhat educated and not very well educated. We are well-employed, under-employed and unemployed. We live in large well-appointed homes and small apartments. We are Hispanic and Asian. We are engineers and artist. We are butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, inner-city, outer-city, edge of the city and out of the city.
We are Democrat and Republican.
What binds us all together? What is the common conviction that fuses and fuels our unity? Whose flag do we rally around? To what or whom do we swear allegiance? Why do we refuse to be divided along ethnic, social, economic, educational and geographic lines? What is the common thread that runs through our fellowship? None other than our confession and conviction of the Lord Jesus Christ. What does that confession mean to us and why does it therefore primarily define who we are, whom we identify with, why we’re here and what our destiny is?
Our brother and apostle Paul explained part of it in a letter he wrote to a group of our brothers and sisters around two thousand years ago. In writing about the origin, salvation, purpose and unity of the church he said “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.” Eph. 4:4-6.
Who are we? We are the people of God gathered into one living community and sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ. And it is our Lord Jesus who is the head of this community. As such we now live to take His direction and follow His agenda. Consequently we no longer regard our primary identity as being black or white, Jewish or Arab, Hispanic or Asian, American or Iranian. That is we no longer live to carry out the agenda of our natural ethnicity, class, country or political party.
Who are we? We are a living community held in unity by the eternal Spirit of the living God. It is His Spirit that indwells and empowers us so that we are enabled to among other things love those brothers and sisters who on the surface aren’t like us. It is also the Spirit who has given us new life, sealed us for the Lord until His return and bound us into an intimate covenant union in Christ.
Who are we? We are a living community of Spirit bound believers who have answered the call to humanity’s only real hope. What is that call? It is the call to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for full forgiveness of sin and a perfect, permanent right standing before the living God. What is our hope? Well it’s not that the land we live in will continue to be the strongest and richest country on the planet. Nor is it that our ethnic group will achieve full economic and social equality with the dominant ethnic group. Our hope which is a confident expectation is in an inheritance that cannot perish, spoil or fade kept in heaven for us. Our hope is the return of our Lord, shepherd, king and savior Jesus Christ who will take us to Himself, give us new glorified bodies, wipe every tear from our eyes and gather us into an eternal loving fellowship of worship around His throne.
Who are we? We are a living community of Spirit bound believers who having answered the call of the gospel bow our hearts and minds to one Lord, master and director of our lives. We therefore acknowledge and submit to the authority of Jesus Christ. We take our life’s marching orders from Him, not our country, ethnic group or cultural group. Our goal and mission is to pursue and fulfill His commission not our own agenda or anyone else’s agenda.
Who are we? We are a living community of Spirit bound believers who’ve answered the call of the gospel to come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ who preach, herald, proclaim, teach, preserve and promote the one faith. What is that faith? It is not a privately held belief that gives our lives some unique meaning known only to us. The faith is the body of belief that was once delivered to the saints. What does it consist of? Once more let’s turn to our brother and apostle Paul “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.” 1 Cor. 15:3-6.
Who are we? We are living community of Spirit bound believers who’ve answered the call of the gospel to come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ who preach, stand on and live by the one and only true faith who’ve been placed into one, glorious church. What does it mean to participate in this baptism? It means that we’ve identified publicly with the people of God past, present, future and eternal. Many of us have done this as individuals and some have done so with our families. In doing so we’ve all declared publicly and without shame that we are a new people, who live new lives and are a vital part of a new covenant community.
Who are we? We are a living community of Spirit bound believers who’ve answered the call of the gospel to come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ who preach, stand on and live by the one and only true faith who identify with and have been placed into the church of the living God with the consequence that we now worship, adore, love, obey, serve and delight in one God who is at the same time our good, gracious heavenly Father.
Who are we? We a chosen race, a royal priesthood, and holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. Who are we? We are those who’ve come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the innumerable angels in festal gathering, to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Now that you know who we are tell me who are you?
To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and has made us a kingdom, priests to serve His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.