Dear Church Family,
Like many of you, I have been growing increasingly concerned with the events that seem to be escalating across our country. The terror attacks, the violence, the riots and demonstrations, and the obvious fear and anger that is fueling the events has dominated our news cycle lately. My purpose in this note is not to offer a commentary on the rights and wrongs of these news stories nor to assign blame. I have reflected much on these matters and tried to ask the Lord how to respond. I have come to this conclusion. My responsibility is three-fold. First to pastor Germantown Baptist Church. Secondly to pray faithfully and fervently. Finally, to share the love of Jesus as found in His glorious Gospel to whomever the Holy Spirit directs. I am asking the Lord to enable me to be faithful in these three areas as your pastor.
So, as your pastor, I do want to talk about how we respond to these recent events. First of all, let me encourage you to place your faith in our good and gracious heavenly Father Who is the Sovereign over all of creation. He raises kings up and He removes kings. He governs all of the affairs of creation. Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. We live underneath the umbrella of His rule and reign. For those in Christ, our lives are no longer our own. Galatians 2:20 tells us that it is Christ that lives within us to lead us, direct us, and empower us. His will for us according to Romans 12:1-2 is always good, perfect, and pleasing. He tells us in Romans 8:28 that “God causes all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” The Bible assures us that there is no thought or deed that is beyond God’s watchful eye (Hebrews 4:13). We are told that God never sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121:1-5). We are promised that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). We are also promised that His grace is sufficient for every need (2 Corinthians 12:9). We are told that the Lord is good and His love endures forever (Psalm 100:5). As a child of God, I must choose to believe these things about my Father because His Word declares them to be true. Regardless of how dark and challenging the world around me becomes, I choose to believe His Word and will live my life as though it is true. Please commit yourself to believing these things and walking them out in your life. In Psalm 119:105 the Lord declares that “His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Therefore, I will hide it in my heart, believe it, and allow it to direct my life. I encourage you to heed the Word of the Lord during these dark and challenging days.
Secondly, I want to encourage you to pray. Please download this prayer that I have written this morning as a guide for you. Please be aware that it is not a short prayer. These days call for thorough and faithful intercession. I encourage you to read this prayer. Incorporate it into your quite time as a way to pray for our nation, our city, our church, and your family. You may want to add to this prayer. You will find that this prayer is thoroughly biblical; it runs counter to the emotional and reactionary responses you are seeing on TV and through social media. I truly believe that the truths contained in this prayer are truths that Christ-followers should not only pray but live out as a testimony of the character and love of Jesus Christ against the backdrop of our pagan culture. We cannot do it in our own strength. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to live through us and expose our lost but watching world to the glorious love of Jesus Christ lived out through His Bride, the Church.
Philippians 4:7 states, “The peace of God which passes all understanding guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” This promise assures us that regardless of how formidable the forces of darkness are in this world, as a child of God, I can walk in peace because Jesus is Lord. As a matter of fact, the passage promises us that peace can be posted as a guard over our hearts and minds. It is a peace that is clearly beyond understanding, but it is nonetheless a promise that can be experienced consistently by every believer. My encouragement to you is to pray and ask the Lord to help you embrace His peace. I would mention that a worldly peace is defined as the absence of conflict. God’s peace is a peace that is experienced in spite of and in the midst of conflict. It is so that we can be a living, walking testimony of the power of Christ that enables us to live in a counter-cultural way for God’s glory.
Luke 10:2 tells us that the fields are white unto harvest. As a child of God our purpose is to proclaim the Gospel to a lost world. The lostness around each of us is pervasive. The Church was not given political power, economic power, or military power to advance the cause of Christ. We were given one thing – the Gospel, which is the most powerful, life-transforming power in the world. When God changes hearts through the Gospel, He changes homes, communities, and nations. The Lord spoke the following words to Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:6, but they are still true for us today. They state, “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit. . .” I pray that by His Spirit He enables our church family to be a mighty Gospel force proclaiming the Lord’s grace through the Gospel to all the lost around us.
Finally, I would encourage you to let the truths of God’s Word guide every word and shape every attitude. When we respond to anger, fear, broken trust, violence, and such in a fleshly way, we demonstrate a life that does not live in submission to the Lordship of Christ. Anyone can return evil for evil, insult for insult, fear for fear. Only a child of God can do as Christ has commanded us. Here are His teachings that are affirmed by His example.
• Luke 6: 32-33, "But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. "
• Luke 6:35-36, "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful."
In reality, none of us are perfect. All of us receive grace upon grace upon grace from our good and gracious heavenly Father. Given the amount of grace we receive; how could we refuse grace to others? I pray that the Lord teaches all of us, and I number myself among the transgressors, to not speak carelessly, hatefully, judgmentally, or divisively in response to all that concerns us. May our speech reflect His character and direct all to Christ. We live and breathe and exist underneath the umbrella of God’s grace. I pray that through us the number experiencing His grace through the Gospel of Jesus Christ grows exponentially.
I mention these things as an attempt to pastor our church family through these difficult days. Just because these are difficult truths that we would, at times, prefer to overlook in our response to challenges, they are nonetheless the truths of God given to us, the Bride of Christ. I pray that I can be more faithful to express these truths in the days ahead. I pray that my language is seasoned with grace and my life defined by the Gospel. I pray that you will join me in such a praiseworthy pursuit. May we live lives that demonstrate that we believe that Jesus is Lord.
Because Jesus is Lord!