Romans 12:9-15

“Your love must be real. Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves. Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart. Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times. Share with God’s people who need help. Bring strangers in need into your homes. Wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them. Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad.

There is no excuse for the murder of George Floyd, my heart is broken for our black neighbors and black friends and family, however it also saddens me in the way that people have responded, particularly the Christian community. Neither is right or Holy.

City mission is a racially diverse church and a partner to Ministry to the Military. I consider it my responsibility as a pastor and friend to acknowledge the incredible injustice committed. I couldn’t call myself a true brother if I didn’t hurt along with brothers and sisters. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a brown, Latino, Mexican American, who also happens to be the father of a black son. For him this is a double whammy. It devastates me to know that he has to face racial hostility. My son is a wonderful black man who fears God and loves people, yet there will be times when he will be judged by the color of skin rather than the character of his person. It is my prayers that this will change.

Many of us are tempted to think this doesn’t affect us. The bombardment of negative media and distortions of the narrative has caused some of us to be become indifferent. Few have shared with me that they have heard it so many times they longer pay attention, they have detached themselves emotionally. Others feel that because it isn't directly happening to them or their familes, it doesn’t concern them. Despite how we may think and feel, as Christians we are intimately connected with everyone in this world. Everyone is our brother and sister. Jesus died for us all. The culture of christ is a colorful tapestry of all races falling under the banner of christ. Revelation 7:9 depicts heaven as s gathering of all nations worshiping Christ together. Heaven does not divide us into groups. We’re one family. There is one Lord , one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:5).

I don't have all the answers to all of todays problems, but I do know God does. I also know that love is the one true virtue that can dismantle hate and can be applied right now

Romans 12:9-15 charges us with extending real love. Paul writes your love must be real. He goes on to define what real love is. According to Paul love can’t be a philosophical idea, but a demonstration of compassion, forgiveness, and kindness. Love is always authenticated by action. Pauls talks about sharing, praying, being happy with, sad with and making friends with people. In Phil 2:1-4 he mentions preferring one another and taking an interest in someone’s life besides our own. To take an interest in someones life you must be involved, invest your time, pray, celebrate, and hurt with them. Seeking relationship and connection with people who don't look, sound, or even act like you. Love is definitely emotion, but it only has real meaning when it's expressed. Besides will more than likely act our way to feeling than feel our way into action.

Love is always authenticated by action.

Many Christians have become spiritual narcissists. Indifferent to the needs around them. Lots of talk, little listening. Following a self-centered gospel that only feeds their egos and builds them up, while the world around them is crumbling. The gospel is about loving our neighbor and being intentional about depositing the seed of the gospel in others. The true measurement of the gospel in someones life is how it affects their relationships. How we see others in terms of ourselves.

Love is checking ourselves and evaluating our own hearts. Racism is systemic because it’s a matter of the heart. Most of us have not taken the time to evaluate our own hearts. There is good chance we all have biases and prejudices hidden in the secret places of our heart. Legislation is necessary, but will only be effective if man’s heart is changed. What we are seeing is symptoms of a disease called sin. If we misdiagnose we will mistreat it and make it worse. Only changed hearts will change communities. Only transformed hearts can change the world. Real unity will come at the heels of everyone repenting of their own prejudices

Real unity will come at the heels of everyone repenting of their own prejudices

Our lives are not measured by what we live for, but what we are willing to die for. By dying I don’t mean these self defeating acts of violence we are seeing across our nation. What I mean is putting to rest our own false ideas and perceptions. Coming to terms with our own falsehood. Finally putting away our customized gospels that make us feel real fuzzy inside and and always agrees with us. It is embracing the truth. That God words is the standard for living. That our false perceptions, ideologies, culture, and beliefs about each other must align with the heart of Christ and be laid down at the cross. They must die. We no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in us. (Galatians 2:20)

Love is also about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a powerful tool for dismantling hate. Forgiving those who have hurt us. Forgiving those has have undermined us. Not sure who said it but someone said, “we become like those we don’t forgive.” We can’t allow ourselves to become like the very thing we are trying to eliminate. We have to guard our hearts from becoming harden with hate and bitterness. The only way to conquer evil is with good. The key to reconciliation is “don’t play fair.” The law of love is not to give people what they deserve, but to give them what they don’t deserve. If we give them what they deserve we will sabotage what God is doing (Romans 12:20–21). We can’t sow evil and hope to reap good. It is self defeating. Imagine if God gave us what we deserve.

We can’t allow ourselves to become like the very thing we are trying to eliminate.

Love is also hating evil. Hating evil is not taking matters into your own hands or acting out of vengeance. For vengeance is Christ’s. Hating evil does however call for emotional involvement. To weep when others weep and be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad (Romans 12:15–16). We must learn to experience each others pain and celebrate each others success. As a Christian we should be the masters of empathy. A genuine concern for others will debilitate the power of hate. Simply putting yourself another mans shoes and seeing the world through his eyes will engender compassion and grace. Isn’t this what Jesus did? (Hebrew4:15)

The bottom line is that our real enemy is not any human being (Eph 6:10-12). It's Satan that spreads this hate. Before we can win this fight, we have to know who we are fighting against. If we are not careful we can misguide our attack and kill ourselves with friendly fire. Division, bigotry, hate, bitterness, offense, violence these are all tools of the enemy. When we fight and war against each other, he stands by and laughs at us. He comes to kill, steal, and destroy. Our dysfunction as a human race only expands his kingdom. He is fighting desperately to spread his hate. The most potent weapons we have are prayer and love. Choose to love....

Blessings, PD

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