Ambassadors of Reconciliation
I use a lot of words. I like to tell stories; sometimes ad nauseam, according to the rolling eyes of my family. I seem to have a penchant for run-on sentences, and my grammar is not so stellar, but I love to preach and teach, counsel, and write. I even wrote a book, for what that’s worth. Words kind of go with the territory. That is why it is rather embarrassing to admit that I struggle with words; at least in finding the right ones.
The plan was for me to write a piece describing the summer sermon series and ministry in the midst of a pandemic. But then, yet another black man was murdered by a white officer, and there was no holding back the flood of societal pain and anger. Our country is hemorrhaging, and despite the barrage of posts and tweets…
Words fall short. And yet, silence speaks volumes.
And so I’ve been asking questions about the use of words:
- What is helpful?
- What is the motivation for these words?
- Is it partially an attempted appeasement to my conscience?
- Does my well-intentioned attempt actually bring harm?
- What will point people to Jesus?
- What does love require?
I keep coming back to the well-worn passage from 2 Chronicles 7. “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive…”
It’s a call to pray, but also a call to humility and repentance inside the House. The people who carry God’s name are called to humbly turn from [our] own sin––prejudice, hypocrisy, and apathy––and seek God’s face.
God will hear, forgive, heal, and restore. God will use His people to be a conduit of grace and truth. But the prerequisite is humble, repentant prayer.
1 John 2:4-6 struck me, as well:
“If someone says, ‘I know God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.”
We are to be ambassadors of reconciliation and agents of transformation. We are to be tenacious advocates for justice, give refuge for the oppressed, and protect the implicit dignity and God-image birthed in every human being.
We are to pray for and come alongside our black brothers and sisters who live in the reality of inequity and racism every day. We are to speak against injustice and systemic racism imbedded within government and societal structures, but also to come alongside those who are trying to make a difference from within government, police departments, and public agency.
We are to call out the racism, both subtle and blatant, that exists in the Church and in our own hearts. We are to be light-bearers, grace-seekers, and bridge-builders.
Jesus, strip us of our pride, our paralysis, our apathy. Bring your conviction, your forgiveness, your healing. Help us to become learners, to yield, to listen. Teach us to pray, to build up, to obey. Be, in and through us, the Living Word.
Rob Schrumpf, Lead Pastor