July 12, 2020 Preacher: Steve Heron Series: Undivided: Uniting Charleston Through Gospel-Centered Reconciliation
Passage: Micah 6:8
Desire: Spend some time asking God to shape your heart to reflect his desire for racial reconciliation and justice. As you pray, confess and repent of how you may have been apathetic or blind to the injustices of racism in our community.
Discovery: What is one thing you can do to discover and learn about the experiences of our black brothers and sisters, and the history of racism and injustice within our country and churches?
Discernment: Why is discernment necessary when seeking to do justice? What errors might we fall into if we neglect discernment?
Do: Why does our desire to do justice often fail to work itself out in our actions? How can we help each other move from contemplation to action?
Hey Citadel Square, Pastor Steve here. We are going to take a little break from the book of Galatians. We're going to spend three weeks doing something a little bit special, and as we do this, we're going to join over 30 different churches who are around the city who are going to step in and address and talk about much of what we've seen in the media and in the news when it comes to-- not COVID so much--we've been dealing with that issue for a while, but we're going to talk about all of the racial Injustice issues. I had a chance to sit with some pastors from several churches around the city and we just talked about the desire that we had as a church to be able to put forth a concerted effort and an undivided front as we tackle some of these issues that are really stressful really anxiety-inducing they come with a lot of emotion and I think it's really important that we as the church in the City of Charleston with all of its history related to racial inequity and racial Injustice that comes with being a church in Downtown Charleston really around this area, that we take time to address these things particularly as a church from God's word. So, these 30-plus churches who are around the Charleston area are all going to be talking and preaching to their congregations from the book of Micah. So if you've got a Bible take a minute pause the video go ahead and go find the book of Micah in the Old Testament. And then we're going to be in Micah 6 is where we'll be. We're going to take three weeks to look at three different phrases out of Micah 6:8.
Well, these issues are not new issues. These are issues that the word of God addresses and as we've seen racial and ethnic division show up in the book of Galatians and we talked about that how the church is to be peculiarly and particularly different in the culture. That we are meant to be a people in the church where there is neither Jew nor Gentile slave nor free male nor female but all of you are one in Christ Jesus. So we have a desire as a church body to put on Christ and to live and to walk in all of the unity that Jesus has won for us. So if you feel a little anxious about racial issues that show up in the news and you feel overwhelmed with the amount of opinions and observations and concerns that people have, I want to encourage you here this morning that God's word provides for us, the church, a solution that is completely different and distinct from the variety of opinions that you see out there in the news. You know my heart when I come to issues like this that really are loaded with experiences and emotions and really difficult ideas and experiences for people, is too long for the word of God to speak. Not for Steve to speak and to have a particular agenda when I sit down and talk about these issues, but I long for God to give his word to us in such a season as this.
My question as we begin is: if God was speaking to us and to our church into our city and to our nation at this time, what is it that God would say? Does God have an opinion on issues of racial Injustice? Could we as a people at 328 Meeting Street in our community and in our relationships be the kind of people that would hear from God on these issues and then walk in the way that he wants us to? I believe the church is called to be a counter-cultural kind of unified yet diverse body of believers. We are meant to put something on display and have answers for issues that no other organization on the face of this planet has answers for. So I believe that God will give that to us in his Word. I believe that as we look into Micah 6 and look at a few verses here this morning that we're going to understand in a greater way the heart of God when it comes to doing Justice, to loving mercy, and to walking humbly with our God. So that's my hope here this morning. I pray this would be an encouragement to you. It's been an encouragement to me. It's really been a steady center in my mind and heart that God I think has given us in his word and that I desire to walk out of his I seek to be the kind of man that trembles at the word of God and seeks to live that out of my own life. All right, so let's pray, and let's jump into Micah 6.
Father in Heaven, thanks for your word. Thanks that in it we find life, that we find light, we find understanding, we find the truth from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. So we come as a body of believers seeking to be shaped and to be changed by your Word this morning. May we see things about yourself that maybe we haven't seen before may we see ways in which we might reorder our lives to take hold of the truth of God and to walk in a way that is pleasing to you. I pray that that would be true of Citadel square that we would be a people informed by the word of God empowered by the spirit to live lives pleasing to you. It's in Jesus name that we pray. Amen.
All right. So I hope you found the Book of Micah. We're going to be in Micah 6, which is toward the end of the book. So I'm going to give you a little bit of a running start into what's happening in the Book of Micah. It's really important as we look at these issues that seem to be defined by lots of different people and lots of different ways that we understand the heart of God coming from what he's saying in the Book of Micah.
So the Book of Micah is laid out somewhat like a courtroom scene where God is bringing evidence against his people and were in a conversation with the nation of Israel as Micah the prophet communicates what God's heart is for his people and is speaking into a time and season in the life of Israel and Judah that is somewhat of a dark time. It's a difficult time. Micah prophesied about the same time as Isaiah in the south in the north you have Amos and Hosea both prophesying in the same way. Amos, Isaiah, and Micah all have similar kinds of themes when it comes to God's people and how they're worshiping and how they're really missing the heart of God in their lives. So Micah six starts with this courtroom scene and you're going to gotten see God like a prosecutor present evidence to the people of Israel of God's faithfulness and his kindness and his consistency in the way that he's dealt with his people and then you're going to look at how Israel has responded to that, and then you're going to get to really the heart and the desire of God. And by the end. I'm going to give you some really practical things that you can do to live out and walk out what it means to do. Justice.
All right, take a look at Micah 6:1. Here's how it begins here.
Hear what the LORD says:
Arise, plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice.
2 Hear, you mountains, the indictment of the LORD,
and you enduring foundations of the earth,
for the LORD has an indictment against his people,
and he will contend with Israel.
He's calling Israel into this courtroom conversation to look them in the eye and say "I have an indictment against you the way you have acted in your relationship with me, and the way you have acted in your relationship with others is off." Now, like a good lawyer, God is about to present some evidence. So here's what happens in three four and five is you're going to see the evidence.
of God's faithfulness to his people and what he's going to do is ask several questions of the people of Judah and Israel. He's going to ask questions much like the Book of Malachi. If you read the book of Malachi, Malachi navigates these questions that come back and forth between God and his people and you're going to have similar questions here that show up from God as he presents evidence of literally his righteous works. So look at verse 3, Micah 6:3:
“O my people, what have I done to you?
How have I wearied you? Answer me!
For I brought you up from the land of Egypt
and redeemed you from the house of slavery"
God goes back, the preeminent activity of God in your Old Testament is the Redemption from the nation of Egypt to bring Israel out to cry to take them through the desert wanderings and to bring them into the promised land. And it begins with that Red Sea Crossing experience with God well, God goes back to how the nation had been had blossomed in the nation of Egypt during that time and then there arose a pharaoh that did not know the good work that Joseph had done and decided to enslave God's people. Well, that had happened for a while and God goes back to that particular Redemption moment to say "I have redeemed you. I have taken my people out from the hand of Pharaoh and out of the house of slavery. So I've given you redemption, Israel. Number two. It says:
"and I sent before you Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam."
I've provided not only redemption but I provided leaders for you. People who now mediate our relationship with the law of God and are now the ones to whom you will look to be your leaders to lead you throughout the desert wanderings and then ultimately bring you up to the promised land where Joshua takes over. So I have given you not just redemption, but I've given you the right leaders to lead you at that time. Look at a verse 5 you got something else:
"O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised,
and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him"
Now, that's a particular spot in your Bible. You probably have a cross-reference their in the book of Numbers as the nation of Israel is wandering through the desert. There's a king of Moab who hires essentially a diviner or a false prophet of the day and he hires him to curse the people of Israel to bring down spiritual curses upon these people and what God does is totally reform the curses, overwhelm Balaam the diviner, the Sorcerer, and what comes out of the mouth of Balaam is blessing not cursing. So God provide has provided Redemption. He's provided leadership and he's provided spiritual protection for his people. He goes on:
"and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.”
He brings them right up to the promised land right before they cross the Jordan for that second generation to go into the Land of Canaan so he ends saying that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord. This is who God has been here's the evidence of God's faithfulness to his people. Have you noticed that in these several verses the people did nothing but receive the grace of God all they did was all they did as a people was watch God redeem them from the house of slavery, provide for them in the desert wanderings, protect them from the spiritual forces in the Heavenly places, and bring them into their inheritance. It's all been God's grace and provision for these people now Micah is going to switch in his argument or in his writing and he's going to take a look at the worshippers.
So we've proven the case about who God is that God is a god of Grace and providing for his people. Let's take a look at who the worshippers are and how they view this God of Grace. This is a very interesting next phrase. Look at verse 6. Here's the question that Micah begins with Micah 6:6:
“With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow myself before God on high?
Now, that sounds like a very good question. How is it that I can have relationship with this God of Grace? What should our relationship look like? And what you're going to see in this worshippers mind is something very particular in the way he relates to God. You remember how we've seen in the book of Galatians that we're all tempted toward legalism? We're all tempted in our relationship with God to check off the box and to do some certain things in the way we react or relate to God. Well, you're going to see a picture of that right here.
Take a look at this worshiper. Look at the questions. He asks,
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
A burnt offering is an offering that is laid on the altar and it isn't eaten like a fellowship offering, it's totally consumed. So it's a picture of total life devotion to God. Is that what God wants God wants a burnt offering that's completely consumed? Is that what he delights in, with calves a year old? Now, a calf that is a year old is the best kind of sacrifice. It's a sacrifice that's at the height of its usefulness in an agricultural society. So does God want a sacrifice that's a total burnt offering? Does God want an expensive sacrifice, something that's worth a lot to me? A calf that's a year old?
Not just one calf who's a year old, but will God be pleased with thousands of rams. It's the kind of sacrifices that Solomon used to give Solomon would give these thousand kind of animal sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord. So it would be looked at as a lavish offering upon God. Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
"How much oil could I give?" Do you sense the tone of these questions that the worshiper as he's navigating and thinking about his relationship with God only sees God as someone to be appeased? He doesn't see a God of grace, he sees a God that is demanding of him and wants more and more and more. That the worshiper looks at the sacrificial system as something of a performance that God is just up there with his arms folded, mad that I didn't bring more to him. And that's how this these phrases work. It begins with a burnt offering, then he a calf that's a year old, then it goes thousands of rams, then it's ten thousand rivers of oil. Shall I give now? This is the most precious thing that a worshiper would give shall I give my firstborn for my transgression? What is the thing? How does God want me to act, what in the world will take away my sin? Does God want child sacrifice? The way you read that at almost slaps you in the face, and he goes on "the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" The essence of these verses, listen, is that the worshiper doesn't know what is pleasing to God. He doesn't know what will satisfy God. He is somebody who is coming and his relationship with God and is and thinks that God is just demanding and he's exhausted. The questions feel exhausting because the answer to every one of them is "no." "A burnt offering?" no. "A calf year-old?" no. "Thousands of rams?" no. "Ten thousand rivers of oil?" no. "The firstborn for my sin?" no.
So by the end of these verses they feel as this worshipper, you can think in his mind he goes, he almost throws his hands up and goes, "Well what in the world is pleasing to God?"
Have you ever asked that? Have you ever wondered in your own relationship with God? What is pleasing to you? What do you delight in? In fact, have you been able to answer that question for yourself? Does that question come anywhere into your mind in the way that you relate to God? Do you have a central desire in your life in the marrow of your life that you desire the way you lead your home, your family, your parenting, with your money, in your vocation, in the way that you serve in the church. Do you have a central desire to be pleasing to God?
That's a big question because I think that our sanctification hangs on that question.
I think for us as a family when I think about my ministry career and how Suzanne and I we got married and we began to live in our life and go. We had sort of an unspoken commitment between us that we would go wherever God wants us to go. We would be involved with whatever ministry God desired for us because we had in our heart this desire to be pleasing to God in the way that we lived our life and the way we followed him. Does that inform the decisions that you make? Because that's going to be very very important for what Micah is about to say.
Is there a desire in your heart to be pleasing to God?
Because one thing is clear that this worshiper doesn't understand what it is to be pleasing to God. His relationship with God is primarily performance. He would look the part of being completely dedicated and expensive and expansive than particular and exhausted and all the sacrifices that he is bringing.
But he wouldn't get close to the heart of God. He would view his relationship with God is primarily transactional not relational. So that's how we set up what Micah is about to say in Micah 6:8 to you with me. So let's take a look at what God says through Micah in verse 8, and I just want to pause just wrote with the first phrase leading up to that first comma:
8 "He has told you,"
You know, when we think about these issues of ethnic diversity, how does God want us to be both diverse and unified? How does God want us to think about loving our neighbor? How does God want us to navigate these issues that may feel so complex when it comes to racial injustice and issues in our culture. And then you know that are posted on social media and that people are making videos, you can feel overwhelmed, and I think one of the things that should characterize the people of God is that the people of God should seek the word of God to begin to understand and apply and navigate the issues of our day. And I so love that when this worshiper comes and feels like he's throwing up his hands, Micah begins to reorder this worshiper in according to a life that is truly pleasing to God, and he does it according to his word. He says that God has spoken.
Now, that I don't want you want you just to read by that. Because I think that's probably the most important thing that we have to offer a culture that has gone crazy with these issues because we fundamentally believe that God has spoken. In God's mind and in God's heart and from God's perspective, there are no gray areas. And may feel like to us there are gray areas and may feel like to us there's lots of misunderstanding it may feel like to us that we don't know what to do.
But we as a people of God, we as those who look for our information and our perspective from the objective inerrant word of God have a resource that nobody else has. We have the Lord of Heaven and Earth who has spoken. Now, that's the first part of the phrase. But look at what else he says:
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
What is good now? Let me talk about that just for a minute, you know over probably the past 20 years in the church, there has been.
Is undercurrent that has been trying to be discussed. And it has been the undercurrent over whether or not the word of God can provide the objective truth that can inform our behaviors, our thoughts, our feelings, our desires are our words, all of that. Is the word of God sufficient or do we need something else? And because there is an assault in our culture on there being objective truth from the mouth of God given to mankind. The substitute for the objective truth of God has become the subjective experience of mankind. Now, what does that do in this discussion? In a discussion about racial inequities and racial Injustice and ethnic diversity if we don't have objective truth and all we have is subjective truth then you and I will define justice differently. You and I will define what Micah says right here, "what is good" differently than the way God defines it. If I have a subjective experience of truth and I live my life with my upbringing and background and education and economic success or failure. I will have life that goes a certain way and live life according to my own subjective experience and then somebody else will come in and they'll have a different background a different ethnicity a different experience and their truth will compete with my truth and then we will never be able to come together because we're both defining "good" differently.
We will both have different experiences that I define as good for me you define as good for you, but sooner or later those are going to intersect and you're going to find conflict. But if we begin with the objective truth of God, and we believe that God has a perspective that is able to determine: What is true? What is false? What is right? What is wrong? What is good? What is bad? Then, we have a foundation that we can begin to build on. And that is so important for what God is about to say here. He begins with the Lord of Heaven and Earth who
has spoken has an opinion and to declare what is truth from falsehood. What is good from what is bad. Now, that's where you begin. Look at what he goes on to say:
and what does the LORD require of you?
What is it that this God of grace, who has called his people out of slavery, has provided leaders for them, has protected them in the spiritual realm... What is it that God wants from us? How are we as Christians to respond?
And to the grace of God in our life isn't that an important question for you and I when it comes to issues of race ethnicity and justice and understanding all of those? How are we as the people of God to walk out the grace of God? I think that's probably the most pertinent question to this whole discussion, isn't it? If we have a God in heaven who has given us grace, if we have a God in heaven who came down and was clothed in the likeness of sinful flesh and walked among us, and lived among us, and bore our sin, and we can look by faith to the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Then we have now the resources we have a way in which we ought to walk completely differently than this whole world.
So here's where the sermon begins. That was a pretty good intro. I think. Well, here's where he says,
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice,
Now I'm just going to break apart those two words to "do justice." He doesn't say post about Justice. He doesn't say discuss Justice. He doesn't say host a discussion forum about Justice. God's heart for his people based upon the grace of God poured out into their life ought to be that God's people do justice.
The grace of God is meant to be like gasoline in the car of the spiritual life. It is the internal combustion of the christian life that is meant to mobilize you into living a certain kind of way. It is meant to inform and to activate and to push you into doing. Not merely contemplation. Not merely just reordering your beliefs. And one of the struggles we have as a church who gets centered on the word of God, which I think is important and a great value for us, but that we can think that Reformation for us happens when we believe the right things. And Reformation from God's perspective needs to work its way out of your beliefs and into your behavior. We think we're growing because we know more stuff. God says you're growing when what you know informs what you believe informs how you act. That they're connected. Oftentimes for us, we think we're growing because we're advancing in our knowledge and where our lives have a tendency to slow us up, and we just don't get as sanctified in the way we act and the way we speak and the way we empathize and the way we sympathize with others. We got a lot of knowledge up here, but it doesn't get into our life. And boy, I see that in my own life and it makes me sad to know that a lot of times my sanctification in practice hasn't caught up to my sanctification in my head. So I desire for that to change for us, to be a people who are doing and living out of the grace of God in our lives.
All right, your second part is doing Justice. Now, when I say justice that word can be co-opted by a lot of different people in a lot of different ways to redefine it as really they see fit. As they want to define justice. For their own camp or social group. But it's important for us that when we read the book of Micah we understand what God means when he says "justice" So,
8 He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice,
You know, when this term is used really throughout your Old Testament, it's used in the context of human relationships many times. Now, Psalm 89 talks about
righteousness and Justice being the foundation of God's Throne. We learn what God's justice is liked by his relation to mankind and we are meant to live out the justice of God in our own horizontal relationships.
Let me show you what's happening in the Book of Micah when it comes to Justice. Flip back from Micah 6 to Micah 3 and let's just here's an example that Micah uses to show you what is happening among the political and religious religious leaders of the day Micah 3 verse one:
And I said:
lHear, you heads of Jacob
and rulers of the house of Israel!
mIs it not for you to know justice? €”
Isn't that the expectation we have of our leaders? Aren't they supposed to be held to a higher standard? Well, it was just the same with God's people too. They're meant to be held to a higher standard. Now watch how these leaders, basically don't uphold Justice. Watch what they do instead look at verse two:
2 you nwho hate the good and love the evil,
and their flesh from off their bones,
3 pwho eat the flesh of my people,
and flay their skin from off them,
and break their bones in pieces
and chop them up like meat in a pot,
like flesh in a cauldron. you who hate the good and love the
The entire word picture is that the rulers, those who are in charge, those who have position and influence and authority, use and abuse God's people. They hate the good they love the evil. If you hate the good and love the evil, you will be unjust in the ways that you relate to people who don't have your position, authority, influence, easily. That's exactly what will happen. Why are we surprised that people who don't know God will now begin to abuse those who they are over?
So flip back to verse Micah chapter 6. Consistently throughout the Old Testament, this idea of justice has to do with those who are in positions of power, privilege, authority, and influence, leverage their position for the sake of those who are weaker and those who are outcasts. Typically in your Old and New Testament, you have the poor, the widows, the orphan, and the sojourners or the immigrants who the people of Israel are meant to take care of. They're meant to model this relationship with God by grace and their horizontal relationships and the problem that was happening in Micah's day is the same problem we see in our day. It's that men and women who are in positions of leadership do not leverage their power, their authority, their influence, their wealth, for the sake of the weak and that bothers God. That's a major problem. Not just out there but among God's people as well, when we as the people of God don't leverage our position, influence, power, and wealth for those who don't have it.
We begin to feel the rebuke of Micah chapter 6. So this is a essential part of what it means for us to understand what it means to do justice. Look, this isn't just an Old Testament idea. You remember the Book of James, right, virtually all of the book of all of James 2 talks about this issue of favoritism of the poor being essentially disrespected by the wealthy. Remember what James says true religion is, true religion is this: visiting orphans and widows in their affliction and keeping oneself unstained by the world. You know, I think one of the things that creeps into a church that is committed to the word of God, which I believe our church is, I desire in my and what God has called me to do is to make the word of God fully known. I think the preaching of God's word is important. I think the sanctification by the word of God is important. But a lot of times we can come across those phrases and go. "Well this this is true religion, keeping oneself unstained by the world." And that we can make our lives primarily the problem in Micah 6. You know, verses six and seven is that this worshiper is totally self-consumed. He's only concerned about his own personal relationship with God and how he can navigate and justify the things that he's doing for God. But he misses the horizontal element of his life. He misses the horizontal expression of what it means to walk with God by faith. That's what James is getting at.
James sees these two worlds, keeping oneself unstained by the world, and visiting orphans and widows in their affliction. He sees this individual who is led and informed by God caring about their own personal holiness, but also caring about how the grace of God and can be poured out in the life of others. I think that's Micah's point: that we would seek after the doing of justice in the lives and the relationships with those that we come in contact with whether in our homes or in our neighborhoods or in our workplace, or the variety of contexts that God calls us to.
So let's get real practical. How do we do justice? As I've thought and prayed about this, I think there are two things that are going to help you and me do justice well. Okay, and they are two "D" words that I want to give you so I don't want to just say "let's do justice!" and everybody rush out of your homes and be about doing justice. I do think there's an application. There is work that we need, that needs to be done.
There is work that God calls us to, and fighting for, and speaking up, and identifying injustice. as we come in contact with it in our lives and in places that God calls us to lead. But before we to do that, well, I think there's two things that are essential to this. You know, one of the things that I've seen in this conversation that has come up about racial inequality is people have different perspectives on it. Is that a surprise that there are different perspectives across the variety of ethnic backgrounds and experiences that people have had?
And you know, we're getting ready to come up to Galatians 6 in our church and I think Galatians 6 talks about bearing one another's burdens and Galatians chapter 6 comes after the unity that Christ has won in Galatians 3, right? Well, that's pretty obvious. But in Galatians 6, we are called to bear one another's burdens we're meant to be in relationship with others and acknowledge that they have burdens that we can help them carry.
Okay, you with me now? In this conversation about racial Injustice and inequality and the history of our country and even the history of our city and even in the history of our church, one of the things I think we've missed is this just basic desire to want to step into relationships with people who are not like us. Okay. So there's your first D. Do you want to? Is there a desire? Okay, so if there's a desire and you want to step into these things, let me give you two more D's that lead into this doing of Justice.
First, there's a desire. Do you want to. Number two is that you and I have got to be about a kind of a mission of Discovery. We have got to begin to engage people who are different than us with different ethnic backgrounds different relationships and upbringing and family cultures and begin to move toward them in relationship. Just asking questions that help us understand what it's like to be them in the culture of our church or our group or our city or our nation, That we want to have to be able to do unity and diversity well, is that you have got to be able to define "do justice" well. You've got to be able to discover the places where there is Injustice. Do you know those? Do you know the experiences of others that if you heard their story you would begin to see a layer of complexity in their experiences? A layer of unjust treatment?
But in the ways that they have navigated life and in the church or in their story or in our city or in their vocation where you would begin to be aware, perhaps, of injustices that are out there that you hadn't seen before. I think that's just so important for us is to take a posture of learning and listening when it comes to people who are different than us, different socioeconomically, different ethnically different all sorts of ways. Do we have that posture?
So, we do we have a desire? Do I want to be used of God to move into other cultures ethnicities conversations that are different than me? Am I willing to take the posture of a learner to discover that there might be more injustices out there than I actually realized? And that's important for us just to begin to seek understanding and listen.
When Suzanne and I have done this in the history of kind of our story of Christian leadership, we have both worked among an ethnic and racial dynamic and a church that was completely different than us. And what we discovered is that we began to see things that we hadn't seen before. We began to see systems and structures and experiences and biases and prejudices that perhaps we hadn't walked through before and for us to fight for a unity with diversity. We had to lean forward and to ask what was that like for you? What is your story in your upbringing? What kind of experiences have you had that maybe I haven't had before? And for us to forge ahead in these issues of unity and diversity, we are going to have to take the risk of being misunderstood, of fighting to be in relationship to be consistent and not just go "it's uncomfortable and I'm misunderstood, I should just bail out."
Unity doesn't happen just because we're willing.
Unity happens, unity and diversity happens, because Jesus died and rose again. That is the resource that you and I have to navigate and push through the seasons of conversation and misunderstanding that are uncomfortable. And where you are misunderstood and the other person is misunderstood and you realize that you have said something dumb and you've offended somebody and you've got to ask for forgiveness. That is the work that it is going to take for us to seek true unity and mutual understanding across racial and ethnic lines.
All right: Desire. Do you want to. Discovery. Are you willing to discover where things might be unjust in ways that you hadn't considered before. Okay. Number three is a Discernment. Now when these issues show up, I feel the pressure as a pastor to have a completely thought out reasonable and wise answer for issues that are incredibly difficult, and hot, and anxious, and really angry when it comes to these things.
And what we need to do is the people of God is to seek the scriptures for what it means really for us to do justice as we are presented with opportunities. As we navigate and relate to people who are different than us. We need a layer of discernment. And this really speaks to those of us who have a desire to be about it and get going and really do justice and "Steve, I really thought this sermon would be about us doing a lot more stuff than we're currently doing. Why aren't we doing more?" And this layer I think helps you when it comes to seeking the face of God, asking what God would have you to do, and then beginning to do justice in a wise way.
So you've got these three, d's that really helped you. "Do you want to" with desire. Number two is "are you willing to discover some things about our culture our history and our nation that maybe you hadn't seen before?" And then number three, "are you willing to approach those issues of Injustice with a Discerning mind and a Discerning heart with your Bible open and humility saturated in your words and in your deeds?" But when those have happened, then you just don't stop at any of those places, you begin to act the way God calls you to act and when you do that you can do it with this great confidence that the word of God is informing your actions, your attitudes, your behaviors, your thoughts, your feelings, and you can step in with great confidence trusting that this is the heart of God. God wants this for us. He wants us to live in light of his grace to cross racial boundaries and ethnic lines, to seek to serve those who are different than us, to seek to serve and understand those who don't have the background or experience that we do, and begin to empty ourselves and leverage our position, our influence, our authority, for the sake of others who might not have the same position of influence or authority that we do. And we do that as a result of God's grace being poured out in our lives. That is so important for us as we navigate what it means to truly do justice.
All right. So let's get real practical. In Charleston in 2020, what does it look like for you and for I to do justice? Now this I'm just going to give a variety of examples.
And I think the thing about doing Justice, is that it is hands on where you are. It depends on the conversations that you're having. It depends on the relationships you have. It depends on the position you hold at work. It depends on the season of life that you are in. We're all going to be have different privileges, opportunities, and places of influence that will determine and help us find out that's why those initial D's are so important that Desire, Discovery, and Discernment, to actually put these things into practice. So I'm just going to give you a variety of examples that would be things that maybe you or your group or in the places that God has called you to live and to work for his glory that you might be able to put these things into practice.
So, you know, we started racially and ethnically, maybe you step into some conversations with people who don't have your same racial or ethnic background. Maybe you step into conversations with folks who have immigrated to this country who find that English is their second language or their third or fourth language and you begin to ask some questions in relationship together where you go. "I just want to learn
what it's like for you to experience what you've experienced." And you can begin to grow in those unity and diversity kinds of relationships. If you come in with the desire not to be heard for your perspective, not to solve anybody's problems, necessarily, but for you to open your ears and your heart to others who are not like you. That maybe you begin to just to listen cross-culturally from where you are and what your background is.
Maybe you do that economically. That you begin to enter into relationships with people that you may see on a consistent basis and and you may begin to ask. "What is life like for you? Where are you facing struggles economically that maybe I don't face? What are ways and opportunities that you have felt prejudiced or biased against that I might be able to rectify, I might be able to leverage what God has given me. Not to be anybody's savior, but to model and to represent the God of grace that has called us in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Maybe you connect with the foster care system, or you consider adoption. There are families in our church who have considered adoption where they've leveraged the position or financial stability that they have to bring others into their family system. To stand up for those who had no voice for themselves. Maybe you meet some of the homeless who don't have the same opportunities that that you have. There's a variety of ways.
Maybe you serve in schools that are not the schools where you have access to, and you begin to learn the stories of families who are in neighborhoods around you. It could be all sorts of these things that begin with a desire and a discovery, and then this seeking of God for his wisdom and discernment to know, "God, how do I step into this thing and live a life that is pleasing to you. God, would you give us wisdom to be able to be a people who apply the heart of God in our relationships with others. That we would be characterized by a doing of justice that the world has no answer for but for the resurrected Christ."
That's my prayer for me, that I would live that way. That's my prayer for us as the people of God and Citadel Square. That at 328 Meeting Street we might be able to model the heart of God in the doing of Justice. I pray that for you. I'm going to pray that right now for our church.
Father in heaven, we pray that you would give us the desire to step across ethnic or racial or economic or lines and to engage folks who are different than ourselves. To learn and take a posture of listeners, and then to give us the wisdom and the discernment of God to be able to do justice in a way that we live lives that are pleasing to you. Father. What we want is your glory In this place your glory in our lives, and that we would be a people who are not merely concerned with our own spiritual lives, but that we would leverage what you have put into our hands for the glory of God and the good of others. I pray that you make that true of us, that your Spirit would empower the desire that we have to move forward and be a church that honors you for Jesus' sake not for our own. It's in his name that we pray. Amen.
Church, can't wait to see you soon as we continue this series.