Finding Community among God’s People
The Confederate battle flag has become quite controversial in the past few weeks. The middle star on that flag is for my home state of Kentucky. On December 10, 1861, President Jefferson Davis signed a bill admitting Kentucky into the Confederacy. Kentucky was represented in the Confederate Congress. The congressman for the part of Kentucky where I was raised is buried in the same cemetery as my mother’s parents.
I have ancestors who served in the Civil War. I have a great-grandfather on my dad’s side who fought for the Union. If you look at my mother’s family tree, there’s not a Union fella to be had. My third great-grandfather was in the Kentucky cavalry during the War; some research indicates that he committed war crimes and moved to a small town in Kentucky to keep from being caught and tried. I have another ancestor who died fighting for the Confederacy.
The fact I’m speaking to you in the Commonwealth of Virginia makes me think that many of you have a similar heritage.
For many the Confederate battle flag stands for hate and for slavery and for suppression. I grew up seeing that battle flag quite frequently; there were a few guys who drove to school with Confederate flags on their vehicles and a shot gun or two in their vehicles. We never thought anything about that growing up. Yet, I wouldn’t recommend that you try that!
Growing up when I did and how I did, I have a hard time seeing the flag as racist. However, I see racism in other forms. I have an African-American friend, and he says that even in 2015, if he walks into a nice store at the mall, no one offers to help; a white person comes in and receives help immediately. I hear slurs and demeaning conversation. I told a guy at the gym this morning, that I was speaking on racism tonight. He said that racism is part of our heritage, African-Americans and white folks were different, and we should keep the two races apart. I didn’t say anything to him; I was too busy picking my jaw up out of the floor.
Tonight, I want us to have a serious discussion about racism for just a moment. We must understand that “A child of God cannot be racist.”
God created man in his image. Genesis 1:26-27. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image” (Gen 9:6). “With [our tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (Js 3:9).
God does not make a difference in people: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35).
Christians cannot show partiality: James 2:1-13.
In Christ, there are no racial divisions. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). Ephesians 2:11-22.
How can we demonstrate these principles and truths in our lives?
You remind yourself that people are made in the image of God.
Pray for God to help you see that all people are made in the image of God. Try to think to yourself when you see people — family, friends, enemies, the cashier at Walmart, the pharmacist at Kroger — that all people are made in the image of God.
You serve.Jesus came and served those who were much different than he.
He talked to a Samaritan woman; Jews knew that Samaritans were trashy. He healed a daughter of a “Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth” (Mk 7:26).
Serving helps you put yourself in the right perspective. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt 20:25-28). You can see exactly who you are when you serve; you can see how Christlike you are when you serve.Look around and find someone whom you can serve this week. Make serving others a large part of who you are. You will let your light shine and become like Jesus in the process.
You speak properly (Js 3:9-12).
You cannot tell the jokes. You cannot use the slurs. You cannot listen to racism; walk away from the slurs, the jokes, etc.
Provide a good example (1 Tim 4:12).
We’ve talked about reminding yourself that people carry the image of God. As you carry that out, you will provide a powerful example.