As an Asian American, I confess that sometimes I feel like I have to force myself to care about issues of race. I tell myself that it's an issue for black people and white people to figure out, say a little prayer and move on with my own problems.
But as a Christian, I have been called to live in a way that goes much deeper than the color of my skin; for to be a Christian is to stand for what Jesus stood for.
Justice & Compassion
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Equality for Every Ethnic Group
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.
If anyone slaps you on the right cheek,
turn to them the other cheek also.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven.
When we are reminded that racism is still alive in our country, we must remind ourselves to care. And we must fight to remind ourselves and the world what Jesus stood for.
When everything falls apart, where do you go running? We all take refuge in something when things go wrong. In the Hebrew language, the main thought behind their word "refuge" is security. Psalm 46:1 says that "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." What is your refuge? Why should we take refuge in God?
1. We take refuge in our strengths
This is somewhat obvious as it makes perfect sense to fall back on our strengths when things go wrong. We find security in our careers, education, bank accounts, family, and significant others. But this is not good because careers are uncertain, economies crash, and people can disappoint.
2. We take refuge in our comfort zones
We take refuge in our comfort zones because they are...comfortable. Our comfort zones are a place of zero risk, zero pain, and ultimately zero growth. Staying inside your comfort zone is not good because it hinders you from creating and growing. But we tend to take refuge inside of our comfort zones because we don't want to face the risk of failure or rejection. We don't want to risk upsetting a close friend, so we don't have that difficult conversation. We find security in our comfort zones to our own detriment.
3. We must take refuge in our God
The challenge to this is that God is invisible, inaudible, and intangible. We cannot pray to God and expect to hear sirens and a God squad car coming to rescue us in the middle of the night. But God is there, whether we have the faith to believe it or not. The fact is, God gives us the faith to have faith in Him.
God is our impenetrable fortress who goes with us (vv. 7,11), so we don't have to live in fear (v. 2). Nothing can go below, around, or above God's protection. All that God requires of us is to be still and know that God is who He says He is (v. 10). Therefore it is crucial that we instill the idea of stillness into the way in which we live our lives. Take time out of your busy lives to be still before God, for the most secure you will ever be is when you are still before our Almighty God.
Many Christians love the idea of evangelism, just as long as it's not them doing it.
I am a fan of evangelism, and should be doing more of it. Here are four things that we can learn about evangelism from Acts 2 that will give us hope and encourage us to evangelize.
1. Evangelism is not dependent on your speaking ability
Peter was used by God in this moment to speak the Gospel of Christ, but remember that it was the same Peter who spoke against even knowing Christ just 40 days earlier! Peter's sermon in Acts 2 was great, but an even greater work preceded it: the gift of the Holy Spirit.
When the time comes for us to speak, we do not have to depend on our own strength because the Spirit is already at work in us. There is no pressure on us to "convert" someone because in our own strength we cannot. But Spirit can. And the Spirit will.
2. We will face hecklers as well as inquirers
Some in the crowd thought that the disciples were drunk and mocked them for speaking in other languages. Others were amazed and inquired about what was happening. Peter addressed both groups, dismissing the mockers with logic and elaborating in great detail to those who inquired about Christ. We will face hecklers for our faith. It is important to address them graciously, but we must remember to focus on those who inquire. Go deep.
3. We must take one bold step in our relationships
Gone are the days of handing out gospel tracks on the street. Instead we have pushed towards being "relational" with our non-believing friends and family. Relational evangelism is great, but it is too often reduced to simply building friendships. In order for the Gospel to be proclaimed to your friends and loved ones, you must take one bold step, a risk, in your current relationships. Let them know you're a Christian. Offer to pray for them. Invite them to a Bible study. Be loving. Be bold.
4. Evangelism begins at home
Acts 2 comes to a close with a beautiful image of the early church.
"And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved."
The joy-filled, compassionate, prayerful fellowship of believers was the evangelistic tool that God used to bring people to Himself. Evangelism is often thought to only occur outside the church, but we must remember that our evangelistic witness begins at home, in our local church communities. It makes sense right? No one wants to be a part of a shallow, judging, unforgiving club of hypocrites.
Love one another. Especially your brothers and sisters. It's the first step of evangelism.