Note: This is the second of a two-part series. For part one, click here.
The world's institutions are broken, and there will never be lasting reformation or change without an inward working of God to deal with the iniquities and corruptions of the heart. It takes the church to lead the way.
The world is looking for an answer, and the answer lies in the church, when Jesus is our Lord. It's time for soul searching and a corporate heart awakening for revival in the nation; and it will come by choice, circumstance or consequence. Better to have a heart awakening than a rude awakening.
We will always have our personal preferences and differences. But in the midst of our differences, we must focus on the centrality of the cross, recognizing we would never be family without the work of the cross and the power of the Resurrection. It's only there, at the cross, that the world can find this same place of liberty and freedom allotted to each and every one of us who call upon the name of the Lord.
This past June, I was asked to join a group of pastors from various denominations and ethnicities who were gathering at City Hall in Houston for a time of prayer for the ills and unrest in our nation. More specifically, I was asked to close out in prayer and prepare us for Communion.
I realized, in the middle of all that's going on, isn't Communion symbolic of our need as the body of Christ? It's a fellowship offering demonstrating that we need one another. As Christians, we are called across our racial, denominational and generational lines to set a plumb line not just of righteousness and justice, but healing and hope.
I shared that my mother was Japanese and I was born in Japan, and that I'm proud of my Japanese heritage and my cultural background as an American of Asian descent. But when I placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, I became part of something bigger than myself.
Jesus said in Matthew 12:50, "For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven is My brother, and sister, and mother."
I then looked at the pastors and all who had gathered to express we are family. In the body of Christ, we are family and a beautiful reflection of the kingdom of God.
We have real challenges and broken cisterns and things that need to be addressed in the body of Christ and in our nation if we're going to heal the soul of our nation. In the advent of social media, it has become easier for many to blast our thoughts, emotions and feelings.
Yet we, especially as ministers of reconciliation, must be sensitive to how we express ourselves even in our strong disagreements. We cannot paint one another with a broad brush or stroke. But instead—at the centrality of the cross, being one new man and of one blood—we can be ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation, bringing hope to the culture in which we live. At the cross, we're no longer separated but together.
We are all one blood in Christ, and even more so through the work of the power of the Resurrection through the cross. Jesus, while I was in my sin, gave His life for me and brought me into this amazing family called the church, the body of Christ. We are one family with many gifts and many parts, but one body with one blood.
As family, we must love one another as Christ has loved us. John 13:35 says, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
If we look through that prism first and come into the presence of a Holy God with worship and adoration, then all the things that seem to separate us begin to dissipate.
2 Chronicles 5:11 gives us a beautiful picture of the priests coming from the holy place, the presence of God, without division. When we make Jesus the centrality of our focus, the things that that bring us together are more than what separates us. In that place, we are equalized. Regardless of our backgrounds, we come out not according to division, but with one voice and one sound. And then the glory of God comes.
I continue to find myself praying Zephaniah 3:5, 9: "The Lord is righteous in her midst; He does no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He does not fail, but the unjust knows no shame. ... For then I will restore to the peoples a pure speech that all of them may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord."
What's Our Story?
In the midst of the noise and all that is happening in our world today, there are some who would try to hijack the narrative because those who tell the story define the narrative and create the history.
What story are we the church telling? Are we going to let the world hijack the narrative? Or will we define the narrative and create the history?
The world is desperately looking for an answer it won't find in broken systems. This answer can only be found in the work of the cross and the power of the Resurrection reflected through those willing to become as one new man, ambassadors for Christ, ministers of reconciliation. We must cross our barriers and bring down dividing walls to come to the place of the centrality of the cross, recognizing the high cost of love paid by Jesus at Calvary.
In that place, the world will see that the church is one because we look to the one—Jesus—who brings us to a family with one blood—the body of Christ—where we become the ministers of reconciliation God has empowered us to be.
The kingdom of God is in you and me. Together, we can let the world see that Jesus Christ is Lord. Let us begin by praying:
Lord, if there's iniquity in my heart, forgive me, whether it's covert or overt. Forgive me if I need to release and forgive others, because I've been liberated through Jesus' death and Resurrection.
Each and every one of us has a story to tell; we have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. We are that one new man! Neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, we pull down those dividing walls and corporately come together as a coat of many colors for a world looking for answers. We are the body of Christ together.
There is a battle for the soul of a generation and the soul of our nation. And the only hope is the heart of the nation, the church. We need each other more than ever before.
Let's be the church. Let's be the family the world desperately needs and may not even know it.
Doug Stringer is founder and president of Somebody Cares America and Somebody Cares International, a global network bringing hope and healing to communities through prayer initiatives, compassion outreaches and cooperative efforts. He is the author of numerous books, including In Search of a Father's Blessing and Leadership Awakening: Foundational Principles for Lasting Success.
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