• Consider

    One Race, One Need

    There are various ethnic groups within the human race, but there are two very significant things we all have in common. Together, they point to our greatest need.

    Without exception, the exterior of every human being in history is essentially the same. Our bodies are earthly, even manifesting various shades of the same color, and eventually returning to the basic elements when we die. It’s just scientific fact, common sense, and — more importantly — truth revealed by God (Gen. 2:7; 3:19). Without a doubt, we all have a fascinating but frail physical aspect that is part of our existence.

    That said, we not only have very similar outward characteristics, we also share the same human nature. Scripture says the first man and woman were created to bear the spiritual image of our Creator (Gen. 1:26-27). Mankind was designed with the ability to reason, make choices, and express those choices in communion with God and one another for His glory. So, how did we fall from such a good beginning to the grave?

    Just consider the very ungodly ways we willfully express ourselves. What we say and do is linked directly to our choices which, in turn, find their origin in our thoughts. Our glaring spiritual imperfections betray the fact that we no longer mirror God’s perfection. What was clear is now distorted, and that distortion adversely affects us from the inside out; it visibly tears us down at every level in every generation.

    You don’t need the Bible to recognize the problem, but there God has defined it and the consequences in no uncertain terms: We’re a race of beings with a systemic problem of our own making, and we’re in desperate need of a redemption we have no power to accomplish.

    We’re a race of beings with a systemic problem of our own making, and we’re in desperate need of a redemption we have no power to accomplish.

    Yes, I write this with current events in mind. Social turmoil once again dominates the headline news, and it’s tearing many relationships apart. Our slight external differences continue to be magnified, and we hypocritically judge one another while our universal guilt before God is often intentionally ignored. But Scripture gives Christians the responsibility to humbly and respectfully present God’s assessment of the fallen human condition in season and out of season. In turn, we’re to share the good news of His salvation, which we’ve received by His grace through faith in His promise.

    So, here it is in a nutshell: God takes credit for creating diversity in one race of people for His good and wise purpose (Gen. 11:1-9; Acts 17:24-31), but He holds all individually accountable for rebelliously distorting what He’s made (Rom. 1:18-3:20). This tension finds its basis in His ultimate goal of redeeming sinners through the perfect life and sacrificial death of His Son Jesus Christ. He commands that we each acknowledge our guilt and turn to Christ for salvation. Otherwise, we remain condemned and will face His just judgment (Jn. 3:16-21). This message forces us to consider eternity, and it takes precedence over our opinions and feelings about temporary world events.

    My point is that, until we recognize we’re one race without hope apart from Christ, we’re nowhere close to the only real and lasting solution. The constant emphasis on our inconsequential differences solves nothing; it’s merely a symptom of the real problem.

    There is a true solution for the great need of the human race, and it’s applied by the repentance and faith of one sinner at a time. Christians must be faithful to share the Gospel of Christ in such a time as this.

  • Consider

    Normal Is a Blessing

    I am a recluse by nature. My idea of a perfect getaway is a secluded mountain cabin with a good supply of food and coffee, books to peruse, and vistas to admire. I’d want to have contact with my family for sure, but I think a full week could easily pass before I really missed other human beings.

    So, when the Corona virus pandemic started making its way around the globe, I wasn’t too worried about the idea of staying home for a while. Being a quasi-germaphobe made the idea of quarantine even more acceptable. While the situation was concerning, it seemed like I was geared for it.

    I miss society more than I thought! Yes, I still have a penchant for solitude, but I’ve realized that regular human interaction is a blessing often taken for granted. I’ve missed the freedom to basically come and go as I please, to keep a social schedule, and to casually interact with folks in public places. And I miss the steady buzz of activity assuring me that things are normal. That’s not to make light of the suffering and loss of so many in this health and economic crisis, but there’s something to be said for normalcy.

    Even if we’re healthy, the prospect of indefinitely sheltering in place isn’t normal. Staying at least six feet apart isn’t normal, and neither is wearing a face mask. Losing the opportunity to be productive and involved in people’s lives in a meaningful way isn’t normal either (Ecclesiastes 3:12-13). Nothing about shutting down society is normal by any stretch of the imagination. Although we’re less than perfect social creatures, we should all agree that normal is a blessing.

    Although we’re less than perfect social creatures, we should all agree that normal is a blessing.

    My wife and I became members of a new church just in time to have the relationships we were building with other Christians put on hold. Small numbers have gathered on Sunday mornings in keeping with official health guidelines. Like so many others, we’ve taken advantage of technology to make our services public, and I’m grateful for all of this. But the communion we share in Christ isn’t something that can ever truly be fulfilled while “social distancing.”

    When churches around the world congregate on the Lord’s Day, it’s for Christians to receive God’s grace as those who are one in our Lord Jesus (Jn. 17:14-26). We gather to hear God’s Word, to pray, and to experience the Gospel beautifully portrayed in the Lord’s Supper and baptism (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:19-25). The Christian faith is shared between believers up close and personal in these ordinary ways and in the ordinary lives we share. I’ve come to miss this the most as a normal part of my life.

    Since God is sovereign, I know He has a perfect purpose for this very abnormal time (Rom. 8:28). At the very least, He’s teaching me to be thankful for normal.