NOTE: The item below expresses the views of the individual named as the author and does not necessarily reflect the position of the WRF as a whole.
It’s High Time to Obey God
WRF Member Dr. D. Clair Davis
We remember when the 2016 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA) adopted ‘Overture 43: Pursuing Racial Reconciliation and the Advancement of the Gospel,’ passed by a vote of 861-123-23:
“Therefore be it resolved, that the 44th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America does recognize, confess, condemn and repent of corporate and historical sins, including those committed during the Civil Rights era, and continuing racial sins of ourselves and our fathers such as the segregation of worshipers by race; the exclusion of persons from Church membership on the basis of race; the exclusion of churches, or elders, from membership in the Presbyteries on the basis of race; the teaching that the Bible sanctions racial segregation and discourages inter-racial marriage; the participation in and defense of white supremacist organizations; and the failure to live out the gospel imperative that “love does no wrong to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10).
That’s just a remarkable godly statement of a vital piece of our Jesus gospel, isn’t it? “Love does no wrong to a neighbor,” we don’t want to leave that out, ever. But does anyone know that’s what we believe today, with that outrage in Minneapolis? Isn’t it time we repeated that and underlined it, to each other and to the press?
It’s cynical to say that all we learn from history is that we don’t. We keep learning from this one: In the 19th century there were genuine revivals with deeper understand of Jesus and what he has done for us—but at the same time a deliberate ignoring of slavery. Don’t even mention it, the church’s role is solely ‘spiritual,’ that’s how they said it. But those abolitionists came along and looked at what the church had ignored, then they themselves ignored most of the genuine gospel, as they brought about Black freedom. But people thought they were both Christians and abolitionists, a ‘social gospel’ with real change. By now it’s clear how little change there has really been, right? What a choice: a ‘spiritual’ irrelevant gospel, or a relevant but shaky faith. Don’t you think we need to learn from that, a lot?
We’ve been so turned off by weak ‘liberalism’ that we’re nervous about saying much of anything about how our lives should be lived. We think, isn’t trusting Jesus the main thing, so don’t we need to get thattotally right before we move on to how we should live? That’s our challenge, we have to think that through right now, otherwise we’ll just dummy up and pretend we don’t care about Minneapolis.
How did Jesus do it? That’s where we need to go now. “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.’” Matthew 23:1-3
“No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:13-15
Do what the Pharisees teach, but not what they model, that’s Jesus for us! He talked about ‘justification’ but the wrong kind, the excuse-making variety. Do you want God to accept you because you do good? Then do it God’s way, not your shabby made-up excusing way!
Isn’t he setting us up for Paul? Take God’s law seriously, see how you’re not doing what he commands, see how you just can’t do what he commands, learn to trust Jesus—and then do it right! Not just withpious talk, but with changed hearts, ‘you must be born again!’
Isn’t that what we need to say right now? We agree, racism is terrible, years and years of just accepting it is absolutely evil, we need to change and change and change, right now, we’re with you!
Remember our beloved theology, all that law and gospel—knowing what your life should be like, the way our Lord calls us to, shows us so clearly how much we need Jesus, and how we are called to trust Jesus for everything! Only then ‘we have all we need for life and godliness!’ That evil racism, so long with us, by now we know how weak we are, how thorough the Liar Satan has been, as he yells at us, "white is right." O how we need Jesus!
We can say that and we should, right? But then comes the humble part, we need changed hearts to do that right, we still do. Let us tell you how Jesus gives us hope, with so much mercy and with godly hope. Look at our 2016 GA and then we’ll confess to you and the world how poorly we’re obeying, but with so much hope in the mercy of Jesus and the power of the Spirit ahead.
Oh, let’s say that to each other in church next Sunday.