Confederate Flag Controversy: What’s Your Worldview and Identity?

confed_flag SC_Statehouse getty miaden_antonovA few weeks ago, I had to apologize to someone in my church. This wasn’t an insignificant apology, like, “I’m sorry I forgot our appointment.” This was an issue when I deeply wounded someone in the body of Christ.

A whole bunch of thoughts were going through my head, as I walked into this mediated apology session:

  • Through my pride, I hurt someone who God cares about deeply.
  • I didn’t deserve forgiveness, but I needed to ask for it.
  • I sinned against this person, against others who were involved, and against God (Psalm 51:4)
  • God values peace, and I needed to do everything I could to make that happen.

But one thing I wasn’t thinking: I never thought that I could walk into this meeting and demand forgiveness. I wanted reconciliation, but I would have understood if this person wasn’t ready to give it to me. (Thankfully, they were a lot more gracious that I would have been, and I was forgiven immediately.)

Even though God commands us to forgive each other, just as we have been forgiven (Ephesians 4:32), I couldn’t insist on being forgiven. Forgiving is a choice of one who has been offended.

The Question at Hand

I am writing this blog post to my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially my white southern friends. Other people are invited to read this post, but I don’t think you’ll fully grasp where we are coming from. (Truth be told, I don’t fully understand these complex issues, but I’m working on it.)

Shortly after a recent racism-motivated massacre in Charleston, SC, many people were calling (once again) for the removal of the Confederate flag from the State House grounds in Columbia. Others said that people were using this tragedy for political reasons, and it was not the right time to bring this issue up. (But exactly when is a good time to discuss this? It’s been an issue for at least 20 years. Thankfully, Governor Nikki Haley has bravely called on the SC Legislature to remove the flag from the Capitol grounds.)

So, this is the issue: Should Christians support the removal of the Confederate Flag from our State House grounds? And if we want to take it further, we can ask: Should Christians freely display this flag?

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What’s the Difference Between Race and Ethnicity?

We talk a lot about racial reconciliation. (Correction: I talk a lot about race and racial reconciliation (here and here and here, for starters. You may or may not.)

But we can do better than talking about race. We can be more thorough, and more Biblical, if we use the term ethnicity.

Grouping people into “races” began only a couple of hundred years ago, and has a limited number of categories (anywhere from 4-10, depending on who you ask). But ethnicity or people groups (ethnos, in the Bible) has many more categories.

For example, black Haitians and black Bahamians together live on some islands in the Caribbean. Most of us would look at them and label them as “black.” However, their ethnic cultures are very different and divided. Division between Haitians and Bahamians (or Israelis and Palestinians) is much bigger than that between middle class “whites” and middle class “blacks” in Greenville, SC.

Similarly, there is a very different ethnic culture for a white middle class family in the south compared to a white family who lives in deep Appalachia. Lumping them together into one group dramatically minimizes the cultural differences.

There are hundreds (if not thousands) of ethnic groups in the world. And when you think of that diversity, it makes the gospel and heaven more beautiful. Because now we are not talking about 5 or 10 “races” of people all worshiping God. We are talking about a thousand groups of people who all worship the same God.

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”  (Revelation 5:9-10)

After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”  (Revelation 7:9)

Using the terms “races” and “racial reconciliation” minimizes what God is doing and will do, in bringing us to unity.

Or am I making a big deal out of nothing? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the use of the terms “race” and “ethnicity.”

**image courtesy of Dave Meier via Picography

United and Sent

Allendale Grace Greenville Church

Chapter 17 in the Gospel of John records Jesus final prayer for His disciples before He was crucified. These words, therefore, are important for all Christians.

In this prayer, Jesus expresses three desires for all of His followers:

  1. That we would be united with God.
  2. That we would be united to each other.
  3. That we would go into the world on mission.

Hear His words for the church . . .

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Need + Resource = No-Brainer

Mister Rogers

My wife and I were watching the bonus features at the end of St. Vincent (great movie, by the way). In an interview, Bill Murray was asked whether it was true that he once drove a taxi while the taxi driver rode in the back seat playing a saxophone.

In his typical nonchalant way, Murray explains the that the story was true, and he elaborated on the details. It went something like this . . .

Clicking here is a no-brainer…

Is Your Faith Nuclear-Powered?

danger-radioactive freeimages dcandeaMy second favorite chemistry topic in college was nuclear chemistry. (For the record, my favorite was organic chemistry.) Technically, nuclear power is more about physics than chemistry, but it was still covered in my chemistry curriculum.

Nerd Alert. I know.

But stay with me. I want to give a simple overview of how nuclear power is produced, and then connect it to how we should be living.

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The Cause and Effect of Our Love

heart_stone everystockphoto vancity197From John, the one whom Jesus loved:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.”  (I John 4:7-12)

It couldn’t be more clear. But just in case . . .

  1. God loves you (proven by Him sending Jesus to die for you).
  2. Therefore, you should love others.
  3. If you don’t love others (in practice), God doesn’t abide in you.

Care to share your thoughts?

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**image courtesy of vancity197 via everystockphoto