Loving Others As Ourselves

Series: Come Live The Church's Vision

Loving Others As Ourselves

June 07, 2020 | John Ewart

Instead of moving to the next Discipleship Goal area on our Guide and in our series, I want to, need to, feel led to, take this week and revisit one of our foundational, discipleship truths and apply it to some current issues facing our society. 

From Our Discipleship Guide: Who We Are

In Matthew 22:34-40 Jesus summarizes two basic commands: Love God and love others. Both of these commands exist under God’s love for us as demonstrated in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Loving God draws us deeper into relationship with the One Who redeemed us, establishing us in an unwavering faith in His character and a certain hope in His promises. By loving others, we express to the world God’s love for them – we become the hands, feet, and voice of Christ in His ministry of reconciliation. As imperfect people, saved by grace and rooted in Christ, we seek to imitate Jesus by loving God and loving others. 

COVID 19 has created a new level of tension and stress in our lives and society. 

Your leaders have worked very hard to respond well with ministry and resources leading to the proper, most effective way to be back together again.

THEN on May 25 in Minneapolis, George Floyd was killed and a series of protests, riots and more have occurred and are still occurring in response. 

They are responses to a new event but also to very old pre-existing levels of tension and stress in the areas of racism, inequality, and social justice. 

I want to address some of these stresses from a biblical perspective. There are several ways that can be done.

There is no way it can be done adequately in the brief time I have this morning so I must be very intentionally and prayerfully selective. 

That means I may not say everything you wish I would. Or I may say some things you wish I wouldn’t. 

I am going to attempt to examine them from a biblical and missiological perspective.

I am a missiologist. That means my doctorate is in missions, I engage in missions, and I teach and study about missions among other things. 

Missions is an area of experience and knowledge for me, so it is an appropriate area from which to share. 

The Bible is our definer. Our Guide. Our authority so it is necessary for me to share from it. 

You may wish I was not talking about any of this.

I recognize some of you may think I should not spend this time talking about this. 

You may choose to talk about this differently than I.

Those differences of perspective and viewpoint are actually some of what I need to discuss. 

Why do people disagree on difficult subjects, such as racism, with such different levels of passion? 

Why can some ignore such issues in silence or with no passion at all, while others are enraged? 

I know, some of you might just say, well I am right, and the rest of you are wrong. Or that is just the way I was raised. I get it. But I do believe it is more complex than that however. 

I beg you to listen to what I am going to share and please listen to the whole message. 

If you stop short, you may miss the whole point. 

Please focus with me for the next few minutes.  

Remember the “Discipline of Why” I have shared? 

We must ask the right questions in the right order. 

We must ask why, then who, then what, then how? 

Simple questions, but a very difficult discipline. 

Why do people feel the way they do about racism? 

Racism, as horrific and ugly as it is, is a symptom, a manifestation of something else, something more.

A sinful belief or lack of belief.  

Who we are and who we are supposed to be helps answer the question of why we believe or not believe.

I have found in my various encounters with humanity that many have very poor to no self-awareness. 

They do not know why they believe what they believe or act the way they do in part because they do not who they are or who they are supposed to be.

In fact, they spend little time thinking of such things.  

The Bible teaches us we are all sinners living in the constant presence and pressure of our sinful natures.

We are living in a fallen creation that lies in the power of an Enemy who tempts us to choose to act in sin.  

He seeks to create disharmony among humanity. 

We must make willful and intentional choices of good and evil, right and wrong, obedience and disobedience. 

Therefore, I cannot justify sinful behavior by anyone. 

No matter which side of any issue you find yourself. 

The Word of God just does not allow me to do that. 

People make sinful choices. 

Some of those choices show themselves in racism.

We must seek to be proactively mature in our discipleship. 

I am going to attempt to help us understand why and how we must address the sinful choices that lead to an issue like racism and the social and personal choices that help perpetuate it. 

Matthew 22:37-40  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

I preached from this passage weeks ago, but we must ask…Can you love others as yourself well when you create your own definition of  who your neighbor is?

Can you love others as yourself well when you do not know or recognize who you are? Who are you really?

You know in Bible interpretation, one of the basic lessons you learn is to study the context and to not take a verse out of its context.

I believe the same thing can be said about our lives. 

Bear with me as I tell you more about who I am.

Why do I share this? Not to claim any expertise or higher knowledge. Not just so you can know me better. My story truly does not matter and should soon be forgotten. I share this because it helps define who I am. It helps filter the way I feel, think, and act. 

What is your story? What and who have helped make you, you?  

How will that help you love others as yourself? 

How will it hurt? 

Your culture and experience, the way you were raised, have helped shaped how you respond and feel about others and the current events around you. 

One model describes it this way: 

We are always taking in raw data through our senses and interpreting it into what we call Percepts. 

We then constantly organize this data into patterns to

sort them and make sense out of the world through what are called Concepts. 

Old Percepts and Concepts we have organized and stored in our memories are called Affects. 

These Affects are where we store some of our greatest cultural, generational and legacy lessons from our past and from those who have gone before us. Those life lessons and beliefs that are worthy and we want to pass on to the next generation. 

It is also the place, however, where we maintain our biases and prejudices, most of which we also learn from those who have gone before us and through previous life experiences. 

So, it can be why you like certain BBQ, or why you don’t like certain people. 

How human beings actually behave will then normally be based on these first three categories. We call those our Behavioral Intentions. 

This cycle is very hard to change or escape. Some say it is impossible. It’s subconscious and constant.  

Unless something or someone comes along and confronts and changes the sinful and negative parts of this cycle, breaks the rusty parts of the chain, and creates a new understanding and pattern. 

Someone like Jesus. Through Christ that change can occur. He has radically changed who I am and many of the imprinted prejudices with which I was raised. 

And we are still on a long journey together for sure!

We must pray He will create a sensitivity in us that makes us more aware of Him, others and ourselves. 

That He makes us aware of the sin that leads us to making bad choices for ourselves and toward others. 

We must seek it intentionally and constantly to combat the natural, subconscious, and constant biases we have toward sinful attitudes and behavior. 

As I stated earlier, your culture and experience have helped shaped how you respond and feel about others and the current events around you. 

Culture includes what people believe, value, say, and do transmitted from generation to generation.

It includes what has been passed down to you, affects what you like or don’t like, how you look and act, and what you believe in and stand for. 

When interacting with others, we cannot assume their cultural experience or perspective is mine. 

And, you very likely interact with people in today’s world who do not share the same experiences or perspectives or emotions that you do. 

As believers, we must have enough God awareness, self-awareness and others-awareness to recognize these differences. 

Lost people should be different than saved people for example, but it can extend much wider.  

You should also understand the word, worldview.

Worldview and culture are not exactly the same thing.

Culture is the larger category; worldview is a subset. 

Worldview is how a people view the world.

It is their understanding of their reality. 

Culture is the way we describe others. 

Worldview is how we describe the world looking out.

They both help shape a society. 

The way people engage in interpretation, understanding, articulation, and acceptable behavior. 

A lot for a Sunday morning? So, what do we do? 

Remember, God is the creator of different cultures.

Remember the story of the Tower of Babel. 

They sought to be like God just like in Eden.

Sin is often about how we choose to lift ourselves up rather than God and His truth. 

Genesis 11:6-9 And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Humanity has had difficulty in fully understanding one another since Genesis. Just ask Cain. 

Certainly, that is still true right now.

And yet culture alone is neither positive nor negative. 

Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation, whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 

I certainly recognize there are sinful behaviors within every culture that must be confronted by the Gospel.

That is not what I mean here. 

In historical colonial missions, it was thought you had to change the whole culture first to be a Christian.

Dress like a European, learn a language, etc.

Hopefully we have grown some in our understanding.

I am not sure Jesus cares which kind of BBQ you like! 

But, if we are truly going to be a disciple-making church, we cannot pick and choose in which culture we carry out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. Our brothers and sisters will come from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures.

That’s not a guess. 

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

Revelation 7:9-10  After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

We cannot choose the worldview of the people we like or agree with, or is closer to my own cultural background, and only seek to reach them.

We must be seeking to reach all peoples. 

We choose how we will react when confronted with issues that are culturally different or challenge our worldview or that we have ignored in the past.

I am so thankful for a church that welcomes diversity.

Of the issues with which I am dealing, that has not risen to the top yet. 

But let me honestly ask you individually. 

Do you want the Kingdom of God to truly be diverse?

Or just and only just like you? 

Ethnocentrism is the conviction that my cultural way is the best or only valid cultural way. 

It can certainly be part of racism and prejudice. 

Cultural Relativity, on the other hand, is the concept that each culture should be evaluated on its own terms.  

One culture is not inherently superior to another.

We must be ready to meet people where they are.

Our ministry is not to change culture but to present the Gospel in a way that it is understood in the culture.

Changing a person’s worldview, though, is necessary for someone to accept the Gospel. 

The view of who is sovereign over the world, who is Lord, issues of authority and biblical obedience, must change. Thankfully the Holy Spirit does this!

Our role must be the respectful, loving adjustment to culture in attitude, outward behavior, and practical approach which is called contextualization. 

This is how a person from one culture changes the way the Gospel is communicated to make the truth more accessible to the people of another culture.

Not watering down the content or truth of the message in any way but recognizing the form of methodology must carry with it an understanding and sensitivity. 

I Corinthians 9:19-23 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

Notice who made the intentional effort?

No expectation for them to figure him out or act like him. It was his responsibility to love them first. 

He recognized he needed to understand them. 

We must choose how we will respond within our culture and because of our own personal culture.

This is a choice that requires intentionality, sensitivity, self and others awareness, the spirit of a learner-servant, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

We must choose to acknowledge that because my context and experience might be very different from someone else’s, I may not always understand why someone feels the way they do about something. 

But that does not mean their experience, or their feeling is illegitimate and that I cannot learn from it. 

A colleague at Southeastern, Perhaps we would better serve like Christ if we focused less on what people do and more on why they do. 

Again, Scripture must define ultimate truth for us. 

We must be defined by God’s Word, devoted to prayer and totally dependent upon the Holy Spirit to get this. 

In issues of race and ethnicity, some seek separation, segregation and superiority. 

That’s just a sad and unbiblical fact.

But others, who often mean well and truly seek after diversity and integration, still only seek a multi-ethnic but not necessarily a multi-cultural experience.

They love and even boast of having people of different colors and ethnicities join them as long as those people think and behave within the predetermined confines of their singularly defined culture. 

Almost back to colonial missions again.

If they act and think like us, they are welcome.

True multi-cultural understanding allows other filters, expectations and hopes to help shape and mold for a much more equally rich and heavenly experience within the parameters of biblical truth and orthodoxy.

This requires authentic communication, education,

relationship, intentionality, time, focus, and love. 

And, it is rare in the United States. Very.

There are normally majority and minority cultures within a context. Even in the church. 

The members of the majority culture usually get to

create the definitions and standards. 

It can be very monolithic and restrictive when you are a member of the minority culture.

We are the “us” and they are the “them” and “us” makes the rules. It is our kind of BBQ or no BBQ!


Again, the Word of God must be the final source and arbiter of truth. 

Within that biblical framework, there are very intentional, ongoing learning and listening processes that must never stop. 

It may not be our role to seek to swoop in and rescue but instead to listen and be the student-learner in relationship and community with others. 

And just like Paul, we must make the initial effort.

I mentioned communication a moment ago.

Always remember people are more likely to have good dialogue and conversation with someone like them.

The root of the word communication is commonness.

The more I have in common with someone, the more likely my communication will be healthy. 

How can you build commonness with someone else? 

How can you can truly communicate and seek to understand those who are very different than you?

Love, time, relationship, and intentionality. 

We must be so dependent upon the Holy Spirit, so defined by the Word of God and so devoted to prayer! 

Fortunately, as stated earlier, the Gospel itself belongs to no specific culture; it is supracultural (above).

The book of Acts showed us barriers being broken.

Language, history, geography, ethnicity, religious background, all overcome by the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit. I am thrilled! It would never have been available to me as a Gentile!

Remember what the Gospel did.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

This was quite amazing and incredibly revolutionary in the context and culture of the early church.

Aristides, a non-Christian, described the Christians to Hadrian, the Roman Emperor: They love one another. They never fail to help widows; they save orphans from those who would hurt them. If they have something, they give freely to the man who has nothing; if they see a stranger, they take him home, and are happy, as though he were a real brother. They don’t consider themselves brothers in the usual sense, but brothers instead through the Spirit, in God.

It would be revolutionary for today also. 

Please understand that racism is neither new in history nor exclusively an American problem.

I see racism all around the world.

I have met with African tribal church leaders whose

tribes were committing genocide against one another. 

Tresa and I, along with Dr. Akin, have toured the horrifying remnants of the Auschwitz death camps. 

I have seen racism on six continents where the shade of your skin or the tribe of your family sets your place.  

But that does not justify its existence! How can we seek to stop it here and now? 

Since the Gospel is supracultural, Christians must also intentionally seek to be supracultural: 

I Peter 2:9-12 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

This is not our home, we are pilgrims. 

Citizens of another Kingdom.

We own no part and are simply stewards of this life.

I am so amused when we think we get to control.

When we focus so much on our current earthly existence, our likes, or our style.

See, culture does some of that. Culture and the mix of  sin within it.  

What does this have to do with protests and riots on the streets of our cities? And..with me? Everything! 

Should we not lament with those who are hurting? 

Should we not extend loving care to brothers and sisters who are angry, exhausted, afraid, and hurt?

Broken people will respond in broken ways. Hurt people hurt people.

Again, as I stated at the beginning of this message, 

We make willful and intentional choices of good and evil, right and wrong, obedience and disobedience. 

I cannot justify sinful behavior by anyone. 

No matter which side of any issue they are on. 

The Word of God just does not allow me to do that. 

But I can seek to understand and empathize with their pain and anger. I can listen and care. 

God’s directives to care for the needs of the 

downtrodden are consistent with His nature and character throughout the Bible. 

He is always on the side of the oppressed and disadvantaged. His heart is with the struggler.

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. 18 He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. 19 Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

A recurring theme among the prophets was social justice, especially the 8th century prophets like Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah. So many verses.

Isaiah 58:6-10 Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? 8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.

God’s heart is with the suffering person. 

His judgment eventually falls on those who oppress and ignore those who are needy and hurting. 

Now, it is not my job to attach labels to someone as being oppressed or poor or needy. 

But I must listen and respond when I see injustice and oppression taking place. When brothers and sisters cry out or those in our harvest field are in pain. 

Today we must not simply ignore the sins against the hopeless and hope they go away.

Who will be the voice of the voiceless? 

Is this not the role of those who believe in a just God?

Amos 5:24 But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream.

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?

Interestingly, Isaiah 61 was the text for Jesus’ inaugural message in Nazareth:

Luke 4:16-20 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

Humanity needs freedom. Spiritual but also practical. 

He combines the evangelistic and cultural mandates of  Matthew 28, the Great Commission, and Matthew 22, the Great Commandment. 

Good tidings proclaimed, and good deeds performed.

Jesus spent time with people and poured out of his life for those who were broken.

He was concerned about the physical, emotional and relational as well as the spiritual.

God intends for us to be incarnational and concerned about whole persons and to minister to their needs. 

John R. W. Stott,  Our neighbor is neither a bodyless soul that we should love only his soul, nor a soulless body that we should care for its welfare alone; nor even a body-soul isolated from society...God created man, who is my neighbor a body-soul-in-community. Therefore, if we love our neighbor as God made him, we must inevitably be concerned for his total welfare – the good of his soul, his body, and his community.

His community? 

We are to care about their community?

Allow me to teach you two terms.

Many others are used in literature and rhetoric. 

I will simplify the conversation by using these two. 

Social ministry is feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and the prisoners.

 In Matthew 25, we see the judgement of not meeting physical, emotional and relational needs.

The Christian faith is more than mere talk, remember James; our walk must match our talk.

Social action is the conscious attempt to change sinful social structures.  

Could range from electing a specific candidate, to passing a specific law, to protests. Think about it. 

You have the luxury to favor a law or candidate or court appointment that supports your belief. 

Many of you would be considered pro-life and hope for and vote for people who are against abortion.

You would support ministries and actions in your culture that support life.

Would you ever give as much attention to a law, or a candidate or a court appointment that was anti-racism?

You might not consider that issue as often in your life or see it as that important in your life.

That probably says something about who you are and your personal, contextual experiences.

For others it is a very present and real, constant issue.

If you think it should not be, you are delegitimizing and devaluing their experience and concerns.

We should intentionally seek to be aware of and take the time to learn and love when an issue hurts folks in our communities. 

Then, the standard of whether something is biblical must always provide our final plumb line for action. 

In Luke 10 we find the story of the Good Samaritan. Remember Jesus used this story to define who our neighbor should be in Luke’s version of Matthew 22. 

What the Good Samaritan did was social ministry. 

He took care of the wounded Jew who had been attacked on the Jericho road and sheltered him. 

If he had sought to then change the conditions which led to the Jericho road being so dangerous that would have been social action. Posting guards, passing a law. 

T.B. Maston, deceased professor of ethics, We want to provide an ambulance at the foot of the precipice, but we also want to build a fence and set up warning signals at the top of the precipice. 

The early church and the apostles understood this and ministry to one another was foundational. 

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

Celsus making fun of the second century Christians in Alexandria, Christians were attracting only worthless and contemptible people, idiots, slaves, poor women, and children.

Early church father, Tertullian, described the reputation of 2nd century Christians in Carthage, It is our care for the helpless, our practice if loving-kindness that brands us in the eyes of our opponents.

Our churches are to be examples of the Kingdom of God in this world. 

The only way to combat sin is by being messengers of the grace and love of the Gospel. 

But that grace must be seen as we live out our faith in action. Remember last week’s sermon. 

See the needed balance of loving others with the Gospel and with good deeds. To be compelled by love.

II Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;

So, what do we do and how? 

I know what I must personally do. 

My friend and seminary president, Dr. Akin, sent out an email this past week to the seminary family.

For the sake of our time, here are portions of what Dr. Akin sent…with his permission:

In Genesis 4:10 the Lord God heard the voice of Abel’s blood crying out to him from the ground for justice after he was murdered by his brother Cain. I have no doubt our Lord continues to hear such cries for justice today. I imagine many of you are hurting as I am, and you also are wondering, “Where do we go?” “What do we do?” 

1) We will lament over the sin that is ravaging our nation and plead for our Lord’s grace and mercy and healing through the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our nation is sin sick. Jesus truly is our only answer and hope.

2)    We will decry racism in the strongest measure. We will work against the evil and wickedness of all forms of bigotry, inequality, personal and structural/systemic racism, and prejudice. Our words need to be complemented by our actions. 

3)    We will call for justice for George Floyd, and particularly other persons of color who have been the victims of criminal acts, including those perpetrated by law enforcement. 

4)    We will continue to affirm the value of every life, regardless of color, gender or ethnicity, because every human being bears the image of God and they are persons for whom Jesus died. 

5)  We will continue to thank God for good and noble officers of the law while calling for just punishment for those officers who commit criminal acts. 

6)    We express our support and solidarity with the black community and encourage peaceful expressions of outrage over decades, even centuries, of discrimination, mistreatment and oppression. 

7)    We join the Floyd family and condemn those who have highjacked the death of George Floyd to riot and commit crimes of violence and vandalism. 

8)    We call on law enforcement to honor and protect peaceful demonstrations while dealing appropriately with those who break the law. We ask God to grant them patience, protection and wisdom as they carry out their difficult assignment. 

9)    We will refuse any and all attempts to politicize the death of George Floyd and the racial divide that plagues our nation. 

10)  We will continue to fight the good fight. How? Here are some suggestions. Pray daily for equality for all. Ask the Lord to show you ways we perpetuate or tolerate racist ideologies. Think well concerning 

systems in society where persons of color currently have little or no voice. Finally, intentionally build relationships with those who are different from you and invite them into your daily life. It will bless you and help us to relate to one another with more empathy and understanding. 


Please allow me to add this from Your Elders: 

The Bible teaches us that injustice and suffering will plague this world, increasingly so, until Jesus returns to set the world right. Let us not be confused or frightened by these things but encouraged to be conduits of the love and mercy that Christ showed us. Creek Family, be a light in a dark place. Pray for peace and justice for those who are hurting, and for our law enforcement officers. Ask God to give you awareness of your biases or prejudices. Strongly denounce racism wherever you see it. Befriend and minister to your neighbors, especially those who are different than you. Above all, share the Good News of the Gospel, that some may believe and find hope through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We must love others as ourselves by knowing our Lord well, knowing ourselves well, and developing authentic relationships with others as we listen and learn and engage with them in Gospel conversations and holistic, discipling ministry. 

From Our Discipleship Guide: Who We Are

In Matthew 22:34-40 Jesus summarizes two basic commands: Love God and love others. Both of these commands exist under God’s love for us as demonstrated in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Loving God draws us deeper into relationship with the One Who redeemed us, establishing us in an unwavering faith in His character and a certain hope in His promises. By 

loving others, we express to the world God’s love for them – we become the hands, feet, and voice of Christ in His ministry of reconciliation. As imperfect people, saved by grace and rooted in Christ, we seek to imitate Jesus by loving God and loving others. 

Matthew 22:37-40  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Robert Lewis We have at times burned bridges to our communities by being a ‘disembodied voices of judgment’. The world must see that while we are firm in our convictions about sin, we are also actively loving sinners by seeking to pick up the pieces of a broken world.  We must not be seen as casting stones of judgment from a distance. 


A Gospel Prayer of the Elder Body for the church:

We pray for reconciliation and righteousness through the Gospel. The Bible teaches that we live in a fallen world, one in which people suffer because of their own sin and the sins of others. In His Word, Jesus Christ commands us to share His love with the suffering, including those who are marginalized, oppressed, or harassed. All people, of every gender, race, and color, bear God's image and have value before Him. We stand with our God against all unrighteousness, and for the dignity and worth of all people. Based on these convictions, we grieve the death of George Floyd. We further recognize that his death comes in the context of a long history of oppression and inequality, thus stirring feelings of grief and hurt. His death, and the events that have come after it, remind us that much work remains to be done until Jesus returns. Christians are commanded to be salt and light to this world, demonstrating the power of the gospel and the love of God to all people regardless of their skin color. We pray for unity and peace through the Gospel. We want Richland Creek to be a church where we listen to and learn from brothers and sisters of color as we strive for justice and equality under the banner of Gospel above all. We thank God that amid this suffering, we have hope in His Son, who is the One that unites us by His blood. We know many outstanding law enforcement officers serve and protect our communities. The Bible teaches us that God gives authority to the government and its agencies to be used in a way that glorifies Him. The abuse of such authority is sin and should be condemned by God's people based on the clear teaching of God's Word. We thank God for the men and women who are working diligently toward ending such abuse of authority.  We pray for salvation through the Gospel. Our heart for Richland Creek is that we would be united by Gospel love in all things. Jesus knows the pain of betrayal and injustice. He gave His life – the only One who is just, dying for the unjust - that we may be justified before a righteous God. For those who would place their faith in Him, one day there will be no more suffering, sorrow, or pain as we spend eternity in the presence of the Savior. This Gospel is the only hope for our world.

Series Information

Other sermons in the series

April 26, 2020

Love God In His Word

Dr. John Ewart, our interim pastor, leads us through this weeks message...