The grace of God given through Jesus Christ is the transforming factor in this picture. We have been surprised in many centuries, including this one, to find that the Creator of the universe stepped into our messes and for the sake of his Church, for the sake even of an individual believer, began to transform individuals, churches and even nations. That is the work of the Holy Spirit who comes not to bless our mistaken ethical visions of utopia but to illuminate God’s word and turn our hearts toward the Lord of the church.
I remember years ago reading David Wilkerson’s book The Cross and the Switchblade about his ministry to gang members in the sixties. In the book he tells of visiting his grandfather to talk about his new ministry and how his grandfather told him not to be surprised when the young men he was working with changed; it would be like a snake shedding his skin. First he talked about what Wilkerson would face, and then about the real renewal:
...wait until you meet more of these boys before you start having visions. They’ll be full of hate and sin, worse than you’ve ever heard of. They’re just boys, but they know what murder is, and rape and sodomy. How are you going to handle such things when you meet them?Wilkerson’s grandfather reminded him of what the good news truly was. “The heart of the Gospel is change. It is transformation. It is being born again to new life.” And then he told a story.
Sometime ago I was taking a walk through the hills when I came across an enormous snake. He was a big one Davie, three inches thick and four feet long, and he just lay there in the sun looking scary. I was afraid of this thing and I didn’t move for a long time, and lo and behold, while I was watching I saw a miracle. I saw a new birth, I saw that old snake shed its skin and leave it lying there in the sun and go off a new and really beautiful creature.The Christians who today find themselves in the midst of an angry resentful society need to remember God is there and greater then any hindrance. His purposes are all wrapped up in Christ—the future may be full of transformation for many broken hurting people. It is certain it will be full of God’s love and comfort.
When you start your work in the city, boy, don’t you be like I was, petrified by the outward appearance of your boys. God isn’t. He’s just waiting for each one of them to crawl right out of that old sin shell and leave it behind. He’s waiting and yearning for the new man to come out.
About the second thing, the differences between the orthodox and the white supremacist, which in fact, reading the two together, looks silly, but should be addressed because the name bigot, and racist has already been stated. The names have already been called. I have written many times about racist groups—one of my articles has even shown up on Storm Front's forum page as someone tried unsuccessfully to turn the conversation the right way. I know the difference very well. We all do!
The racist does not love, does not want Christ to change anyone—does not believe in change but only in endless hate. And here is the difference: love. Love for the sinner, love for the saint. My pastor every Sunday morning greets the congregation with the words, “Good morning saints.” After we say “Good morning,” he once again greets us with “Good morning sinners.” And we all greet him back with “Good morning.” The difference is the love of Christ; he takes sinners and makes them saints. We wear the righteousness of Christ—it covers our sin, and with its covering we begin to change—a change that will not be finished until the coming of Christ.
The world may hate those who belong to Christ but generally they know the difference between the redeemed and the unredeemed—between the orthodox and the white supremacist.
Like Paul we must live to make that difference known no matter the out come:
"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. (2 Cor. 2:14-16a.)”
Picture by Penny Juncker