In the midst of 21st century America’s mostly secular, sentimental and commercial celebration of Christmas, faithful Christians continue to labor diligently to rightly exalt Jesus Christ as the central focus. However, even many professing Christians seem to only sentimentally zero in on Christ as “the Babe born at Bethlehem” and not on why. Truly, the birth of Jesus Christ means nothing without the why and I am so glad in this contentious age, God Himself supplied the answer to that question so arrogant and proud men would not have this as a matter of debate with all else. God has also made His answer to why Christ was born so simple and easy to receive a child can understand it!
In the only two birth narratives in the New Testament, Matthew and Luke record angelically made statements that announce from God the name, title and description of the central mission His Son born to the virgin, Mary, would have. Declaring His name and title (Christ) in his narrative, Matthew relays how Mary’s husband by engagement, Joseph, was told by an angel in a dream to name Her soon to be born Son, ‘“Jesus’” which those conversant in the Hebrew language translate literally in shortened form as “Savior.” Joseph obediently did this at His birth. Then the angel tells Joseph why the name, Jesus: ‘“for He will save His people from their sins,’” (Matthew 1:18-25, NKJV).
In Luke’s account too, an angel announces God’s good news for all humanity this time to shepherds in a field. They are told, ‘“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,’” (Luke 2:11, NKJV). As is consistent with God and man from the beginning, names given express something about the function and mission of a person, place or thing. Jesus, Savior is so because His central mission was to save His people (those that would look to Him starting from among the lowliest of Jews and the Gentiles) from their sins. He is titled “Christ” which means “Anointed One” because He is exclusively chosen by God to His work (Isaiah 49:1-7, 61:1-3).
Saving willing mankind from our sins was the first priority mission of the Lord Jesus Christ when He was born into this world over 2,000 years ago. And while He was no doubt a cute, baby Boy sentimentally speaking, His mission is what should occupy the heart of every person professing to be His follower at Christmas. Indeed, He grew up to accomplish His mission on a Roman cross by dying thereon for the sins of all mankind--the innocent One in the place of the guilty all--to bring salvation to the world (Isaiah 53:1-9)! This is the deepest source of the Father and His Son’s joy and ours too who are saved by faith in Jesus Christ as the angel foretold (Isaiah 53:10-12; Luke 2:10)!
The tragic shame of these latter days is how lightly sin is taken by many willfully sinning and falling away from Jesus and the true Gospel that still profess to believe on and love Him (John 14:21-24; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Galatians 1:1-10). Truly, all disobedience and whatever offends the holy, just and righteous God is sin as it is plainly written in His Word (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:6-11, 17-19; Exodus 19:10-20:17; Romans 14:23b; 1 John 1:1-6). That same Word declares that God does not change--what was sin in His sight yesterday, is today and will be so forever (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8)! Yet, many professing Christian Americans have pet sins they willfully practice and refuse to relinquish in sincere confession and repentance so that God might forgive them (1 John 1:7-2:6).
Among the willful and continuously practiced pet sins many professing Christian Americans cling to falsely believing God in grace is okay with because He has not yet brought on them the judgment they deserve (Romans 6:1-2) is racism which I wrote about in the December 11, 2016 blog. Another major pet sin is pride that is routine among pastors and other church leaders as if Scripture gives no serious warning about it (Proverbs 16:18-19). Others include unforgiveness with petty vindictiveness and retaliation, idolatry in all covetousness of money, things and selfish ambitions, sexual immorality and heresies that are big among the religious educated elite and pastors who simply invent corrupt theologies at will to justify such sins as oppressing and marginalizing men.
Cue the anger here since I must think I am perfect. Nope, just confessed up and forgiven as well as yielded to the Spirit’s renewing work daily in fear of God (Romans 12:1-2)! No professed Christian who will please God clings to sin as a pet since Christ our Savior died to save us from sin completely--its penalty, power, pollution and ultimately, its presence (Romans 6:3-23)! This is why God consistently, sternly warns the righteous made so through faith in the Old and New Testaments who may become deceived of demons and hardened by sin, unless they do repent from their sins carried out in unbelief, they will die in them and be judged by their deeds (Ezekiel 33:12-20; Romans 2:1-11; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; Hebrews 3, 6:1-8, 10:26-39). God will not be mocked (Galatians 6:7-8)!
This Christmas, therefore, I urge every guilty professing Christian reading this to repent now, so that in God’s gracious forgiveness made possible through Jesus Christ, you may have the real joy of the season along with salvation’s many blessings into the New Year and beyond (Matthew 5:1-12)! The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, “Who is on the Lord's side?”
(So that I too may give full attention to celebrating Christ’s coming as Savior to save us from our sins at Christmas and enjoy my family into the New Year, the Lord has granted that this should be my final blog for 2016. The Lord saying the same, my next new blog will appear on January 8, 2017.)
Of the many sins that professing Christians of all American hues that are guilty must repent from before experiencing authentic, Holy Spirit fired revival is the practice of racism. Founded upon the twin evils of human arrogance and showing partiality, the American legacy and reality of racism and all of its related evils has been shamefully intertwined with and sanctioned by that which is outwardly professing Christianity from colonial times. If the proclamation of the Gospel will bear the greatest possible fruit in souls saved during the temporary door of opportunity God is opening, then the true nature and character of biblical Christianity must be put on display by us.
Catholicism by way of Georgetown University currently on the hot seat within professing American Christianity does not bear alone the institutional shame of being fully engaged in the business of slavery which was completely predicated on the presumed racial inferiority of my black forefathers. To this hour, many conservative white evangelicals still believe themselves racially superior. And though there have been many welcome public apologies for and denunciations of past racially based sins by evangelical leaders, the evil is so systemic and culturally entrenched, many especially in the rank and file carry on in their ways as if no apologies had been made.
Being a black American, of course, I am an experienced witness to the still practiced racial arrogance, discriminatory attitudes and conduct of many of my white brothers that profess with me to be Christians. I have written about some of my experiences in a booklet entitled, The Scourge Of Racism.1 For this blog, though, the Lord has led me to pinpoint from my experiences how progress toward real, biblical brotherhood is stymied primarily due to the typical white evangelical’s natural presumption of racial superiority. This attitude persists in spite of Scripture teaching the rise, fall and wisdom of peoples and kings is the sovereign work of God (Psalm 75:4-7; Daniel 2:20-23, 4:28-37).
Many of the even well meaning white evangelical brothers I have known over the years do not see how the presumption of superiority is deeply embedded in them through cultural conditioning. By default as a result, these brothers cannot begin to accept, for example, that the way they see a matter or a solution they have may not be right compared to what is offered by their brother of color. To this day, a once close brother expects me to apologize to him for the hurt he experienced because I told him the truth about his presumption of racial superiority and how it had influenced his judgment. Tangible evidence then and since proved he was wrong.
In denial (and pride), he not only maintains his position, but clearly does not appreciate how I may have been hurt by having my sound judgment from God rejected in his false presumption of superiority. He believed he had moved beyond racial bigotry. He had to a degree, but in his heart where self-perception and worldview reside, he still needed repentance and the Holy Spirit’s renewing work to transform and empower him to see me as his equal in Christ subject as he to error. Now, expand this brother out to the many well meaning evangelical Christians also with the same need along with the smaller, but still significant number that are racially bigoted and proud and you have this planet sized elephant seated in the midst of professing American Christianity.
To be sure, we Christian black Americans deeply wounded from four hundred years of America’s racism are a piece of work in glacial progress too. Add to all of this the deceitful work of demons through manmade Christianity the religion widely practiced by men operating in both camps and one that is willing can easily see how the Lord’s call to repentance is justified. Indeed, biblical Christianity is founded upon and driven by the love of God which brought Jesus Christ into the world to die for, save and reconcile fallen mankind as sinners back to God. That same love of God is poured into the hearts of those that repent and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit who also renews our minds and regenerates our souls (Romans 5:5-11, 12:1-2; Titus 3:1-6).
The Holy Spirit so transforms us that as new creations, we think and act as our Redeemer. God is love! Christ commands us therefore, to love and make Him known by our love for each other (John 13:34-35).2 And since love does no harm to a neighbor and in His perfect character our God shows no partiality, the arrogant mindset, attitudes and acts of racism are incompatible with biblical Christianity--period (Romans 13:10; James 2:1-10; 1 John 4:20-21).3 It is not possible that the world should out love us who profess to know God intimately is it? Yet, media images abound with young white, worldly faces taking a stand with blacks and other minorities against racism among their other social justice causes, while historically silent and aloof evangelicals largely remain so.
In the Donald Trump era made possible by an over 80% evangelical vote, the Lord calls all professing to be His followers to repent from any willful and lingering practice of racism. The Gospel message and witnessing of Christ can no longer stand to be tainted as it has been historically by the hypocritical practice of racism among professing Christians if we will be fruitful in this temporary door of opportunity God opens for us. The world saw enough of this a generation ago and rejected it; they will rightly continue to do so. Only Holy Spirit fired love for each other as our Lord Jesus originally commanded and His power will authenticate our message and witness going forward. The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, “Who is on the Lord's side?”
1 This booklet is available in the FSTVEP Resource Store.
2 Read my March 8-15, 2015 blog, Known By Our Love, Pt. 1&2, under the category Instruction.
3 Read the December 6, 2015 blog, Celebrating God’s Racial Diversity Initiative, Call To Repent.
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