If you’re like me you’ve probably noticed how the economy of the United States has transformed over the past two years. It’s noticeable on many fronts. The price of goods at your local grocery store have probably increased. A trip through the local drive thru can cause a quick double take as the price of food combos has reached double digits. But the place where you’ve probably noticed the change more than others is at the gas pump. A gallon of unleaded gasoline has doubled in two years. When I see the price of gas I have to remind myself that I don’t live on the West Coast, that’s just how high it’s gone up. I’ve found myself over the past few weeks “engaging” in conversation with my fellow “sufferers” as we try to make sense of all this. We usually begin by pointing fingers at others and then offering up solutions and mixed in between is some self pity in order to help each other through all this change. All of this has taught me a lesson.

I’ve realized a few things as I’ve reflected back on all this. A lot that has to do with me and not other people. I’ve realized that I don’t trust God to provide for the needs of my family and me. I trust in the strength of my own arm to provide and I just don’t take too kindly to the federal government taking more of my hard earned money, especially when they’ve made illogical decisions. I’ve realized that I don’t trust God as a good and loving Father to provide for the needs of His children.[1] I think my needs are provided for as long as the bank account doesn’t fluctuate more than I want it to because of forced excessive expenditures, and here lately that equates to paying way more at the pump than I should. I’ve also noticed that when I complain about all this to others, I’m getting in the way of keeping their eyes on God and acknowledging Him and giving Him thanks for what He has provided. I’m not encouraging them to trust God, but instead to subconsciously create a dependency on man and when he fails them how to complain.

Perhaps you’re thinking from reading all this that I think ignorance is bliss. Not at all. But I do believe that as Christians we talk excessively about how government fails us when instead we ought to be giving thanks to God and encouraging one another, not by reminding each other that the midterm elections are right around the corner or that the presidential election is only two years away. No, God’s people, His children ought to be talking with one another about how great and good their Father is. That never changes.

  1.  And my God mwill supply every need of yours naccording to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
    m Ps. 23:1; 2 Cor. 9:8
    n See Rom. 2:4
     The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Php 4:19.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Colosians 3:1

When is the last time you visited your social media to jump into the malaise of politics to blind side whoever doesn’t agree with you? I know this exists. Not because I’ve jumped into the fray; I only have to listen to the conversations around me. Let me get more personal. I’ve heard of the rhetoric that goes back and forth between church going people. Let me qualify that I don’t equate all “church going people” to being followers of Jesus Christ, but I do believe Christians attend churches. This exhortation is intended for everyone who enters the door of a church while claiming to be a Christ follower.

You can learn a lot about a person by what they say. Within the political ring of social media everyone who “posts’ “likes” or “tweets” has laid their minds bare to be read by every social media aficionado. Once the “post” or “send” has been selected, that’s it, there’s no trying to deny intention or culpability. What’s done has been done.

Regardless of the “intent” of their world-wide message, what first existed in the mind has been revealed. The plethora of “social” skirmishes seem to be a form of entertainment for many. Attendees delight in the skeptical of the contemporary coliseum. The roars from the crowd are often zealous cries for an earthly crown. They claim to “fight” in the name of God while defending their political gladiator. They are ignorant of the righteousness of God while attempting to establish their own. Their eyes are not fixed on Christ.

Temptation to hold on tightly to this world is habitual for the natural man. Unfortunately, Christians are not exempt from this temptation. When confronted by the false teaching of outsiders Colossian Christians were reminded by the Apostle to set their eyes on Christ. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col 3:1). Paul commands Christians to devote serious effort to “the things above”. Seeking the things above is commanded because true Christians have been raised with Christ. They have been brought from spiritual death to spiritual life. They have been set apart, distinguished from this world, therefore, they ought to think like it. They are to “press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14).

Paul reminds Christians that Jesus Christ is clothed in preeminence and is seated with all authority at the right hand of the Father. This is not hyperbole, but do you believe it? Do you see Christ as almighty, universe sustaining, and intercessor who’s sovereign over every molecule, cell, nanosecond, breath, & decision? Do you really believe that or is it mere intellectual ascent?

Do you trust that His providence, regardless of the earthly outcome is always good or have you confused what is good for you to be synonymous with what is pleasant and comfortable? When live’s outcomes don’t go according to your plan, are you able to say with Samuel Rutherford, “I will charge my soul to believe and to wait for Him, and will follow His providence, and not go before it, nor stay behind it.” If you have been raised with Christ, set your mind on the things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.

Psalm 133:1

There is a lot being said these days about race. A lot that is irrational & deceitful, and quite frankly shouldn’t be said at all. While on the other hand, there is plenty that needs to be discussed; not just between idealogues or politicians, but between neighbors and friends. We would begin to demonstrate that we truly care for one another as we listen carefully and ask questions.

My perspective on race is unique. As a white male, I grew up in a low/middle class neighborhood. My childhood home from age 2-20 was a 1200 sq/ft 3bdrm/1 bath home in a predominantly black community. We were on food stamps from time to time, even though both my parents tried to hold down jobs. My mother would go stand in line at the Ebenezer Baptist Church to get free blocks of cheese. I either got free or reduced lunch at the public school. That’s just how life was, but that’s how it was for many in my community and race wasn’t a determining factor.

By the time I graduated from high school, which was 95% black, my friends and even those who didn’t know me from the neighborhood didn’t look at me as being “privileged”. For all of us, regardless of color of skin, know that when you grow up together in the same environment, you’re all in it together. I know, I lived it, and the people who lived it with me told me so. It was the norm back in those days to ask a person “where you stay at?” and when you told them, the response inevitably was, “Oh you one of us.” It was not uncommon back then, for my black friends to call me the “Ndearing word” because we had a bond. That bond was created because of where I was raised. It grew every time the kids from the neighborhood came over to play basketball in my driveway on a wooden backboard, or football in the street, or riding bikes in a nearby field, and every time after being drenched in sweat we all drank from the same water hose to cool down. It’s a bond that is still made easily today when I encounter black men and we begin to talk and we ask “where you graduate from?” When I tell them the high school, that’s it, they know. And then it ‘s almost like we grew up together.

Years later, many experiences of varying degrees, God had been working in me to continue to knock off those rough edges that don’t resemble Jesus Christ. One Sunday led to three summers of me traveling to Africa to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I arrived, I didn’t see people who were defined by their black skin, I just saw people. Sure, their context was different than mine. Their culture was different than mine. Their language was different than mine. That scenario represents a lot of people who live within the USA. We may all be Americans, but sometimes people feel like their neighbor is from a totally different context than they are. And because of that, they think, “What do we have in common?” and they never reach out, they never invite, they never really know one another.

I began to make friends with my African brothers. They weren’t my brothers like the kids I grew up with, no, there was a deeper bond between us. We didn’t relate to one another as strangers even though we lived 22 hours apart from each other…by plane. We could laugh together, learn one another’s language together, eat together, embrace each other, and cry every time I departed to return home. The Bible says, “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Providence 18:24b) and that’s what strangers who were separated by continents experienced; not because they lived in the same neighborhood, played together, grew up together, or attended the same high school. No, there was a bond much greater, the bond created because of the Spirit of God living in us.

I still experience that bond today. Not because I’m in Africa, but here at home every time a man, regardless of skin color comes into my home. Well you may be asking, “Yeah, but how often?” My response, “Every week”. The church we attend meets in my home every week. It’s unlike traditional churches where people typically come and go without relationships being formed. We come together to worship God, and then we share our lives with each other. We do this over meals every week at my dining room table. We sit on the back porch and laugh together. We spend time praying for one another. We are family.

In light of the chaos all throughout our nation right now, the idea of being a member of the same family as someone of a different race sounds absurd, especially in the ears of those who truly don’t desire unity with all people. Their minds are set on the things of this world. Listen carefully to their demands which serve as offerings to the god of their belly to satisfy the lustful desires of their heart. They do not desire unity.

Unity between people, regardless of race, color, or creed can only be found in Jesus Christ, who gave His body & blood so that people of all shades across the entire globe might be reconciled to God. The indwelling sinful nature of every person has alienated them from God. That sinful nature must be made new through the transforming work of God’s Spirit. There will never be unity apart from Christ.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, jso it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many” (1 Cor 12:12-14).

Those members, according to Paul are diverse and are many, but yet they are part of 1 body. There is unity in the body of Christ. They are aliens of this world, adopted by God, and whose residence is in heaven. Regardless of race, they all look up to heaven and call upon God their Father. They have a strong appetite for heaven because they recognize that this world with all its woes and cares is not worth caring for in comparison to the glory their eyes will one day behold.

People from every background are brought near to God by the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus Christ paid the debt of sin for those who are in Him. His sacrifice brought reconciliation between a Holy, Righteous, & Good God and sinners of every race. They have been adopted as sons & daughters because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and in turn they are brothers & sisters; not on the basis of race, but rather because they were bought with the perfect, sinless blood of Jesus. Ephesians 2:14-16 reads, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”

Our identity is no longer defined by our race or anything else. Our identity as Christians is solely defined by what Christ has done. We are rooted in Him. There is nothing greater than the Insurmountable All Wonderful Unity that is found in Christ alone.