May 12, 2021

What I got out of Woke Church

As Christians, we are to love other people in the same way that the Good Samaritan loved the injured stranger. We are to love other people like Christ loved us, to the point that he died for us. We are to minister to their needs and also share the Good News with them. This includes all peoples: Immigrants, Foreigners, Blacks, Aliens, the undocumented, and those who don't look or dress or talk like you. To be effective at this, we need to be aware. We need to be aware of what is going on in our city, in our country, and in our world. We need to have empathy. We need to show love. We need to be steadfast in our commitment to fulfill the Great Commandments. (p22.)

I believe all of those things are Fruit of the Spirit. That doesn't come naturally to a fallen human. The Spirit can bear such fruit in us if we allow it. And we should allow it. We should ask for it. Don't extinguish the Sprit, the Bible says.

To be blunt, the Holy Spirit allows certain Christians to see things in our society that other Christians do not. The Spirit allows some Christians to have empathy, understanding, and love for others that some Christians still lack. The Spirit helps some Christians understand gospel truths that other Christians are still blind to. 

In my last post I asked "if there is any group of people that believes they are mistreated, disadvantaged, shouldn't we as Christians endeavor to heal their hearts, their fears, and at least understand their point of view, their problems? To listen?" Blacks are saying that they are suffering. Why don't we Christians care enough to hear and understand? In Woke Church, Eric Mason claimed that "God's intent is for us to hurt with one another, to care about the suffering of one another." (p24.) The Church should be the group that society turns to when hurting. The Church should be leading reconciliation. (A recurring theme in the book, but particularly addressed in p107-108.)

Why do we have to keep talking about race? "The question is evidence of a level of disconnectedness that is either willful or based on a lack of knowledge. This is what apathy looks and sounds like." (p150.)

Has the gospel given you a new heart? Does the Holy Spirit compel you to actively "seek what is good and right for [your] fellow man" (p40)? If not, then something isn't as it should be.

"He expects us to be active in good works for His glory as a response and proof that we have been transformed. As Jesus stated to His disciples in John 15:8: 'My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.'" (p47.) 

Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35.)

And, we Christians are to be peacemakers. (p55.) Many of us need to consider whether our posts on social media make peace, or stir up strife and provoke. The underlying emotion behind so many posts seems to be not love but hate. (p134-135.)

Jesus said, "as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40)

The Review

I don't call what I wrote above a "summary" of Woke Church. Likewise, I didn't want to call this a book review. I don't think it is a fair or complete review. Now that I have read a few books on racism, I'm not noticing the stuff I already know. If I had read Woke Church a few books ago, I would have pointed out more great stuff. My notes here are just the things that stood out to me given where I am in my own personal journey. 

Nevertheless, I do have a few thoughts of a review nature. In Woke Church, the author makes great use of scripture, backing up his points in a Biblically sound way. I appreciate the amount of scripture used and the care with which it is used. 

I don't remember if the author gave any evidence about things like structures and systems that tend to disadvantage certain groups, or about things like privilege. If he did, he didn't give much. If you don't already believe that these things exist, I'm not sure that this book will open your eyes to that. Read one of the other books I've reviewed first. This book should convict you if you are lacking love, and should help you see the need to open your eyes.

Eric Mason addresses many other topics that a good Christian should be interested in, but I think his main point, or the main thing I got out of this book, is that we "must be clear on the issues of our day. We have to do our homework. In order to appropriately engage the issues, we must know them. There are many glaring issues that need a prophetic voice: classism, sexism, elitism, poverty, ignorance, wealth, greed, etc. … I'm not saying that we have to jump at every issue that comes up in the world. However, we should know when an issue reaches a boiling point. It is our job to be in the Word and to soberly assess the world around us." (p121 - 122.)  

The author dedicates a chapter to practical actions we can take. Many good suggestions.

I definitely recommend Woke Church to any Christian who has begun their journey of awakening, especially anyone who is any kind of leader.

May 5, 2021

what does the Lord require of you but to do justice

Today I'm thinking about the parable of the Good Samaritan, how Christians are to love their neighbor, help the oppressed, to love one another.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? ~ Micah 6:8 (ESV)

To do justice.

To be kind.

If a Christian brother or sister is hurting, we should minister to them.

This applies to people groups as well as to individuals. 

All of us Christians are ministers now. Romans 15:14. The priesthood of all believers. 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ~ 1 Peter 2:9

I'm thinking about Ezekiel 34. In the 1st half of the chapter the LORD is lambasting the priests, leadership, ministers and wealthy for not caring for the sheep, for abusing them. Stop and re-read that with the thought that you and I, us Christians, are ministers, priests. Ask how this passage might apply to us today.

We clothe ourselves, but do not help the weak or injured, or seek the lost, but treat others with force and harshness. I don't mean that we have not helped others at all. Many will counter this thought will all the good things they have done. All the good their church has done. But we, us WASPs, have we done all we should? Is there anyone neglected? Anyone mistreated? Any poor? Any that have trouble getting education? You may think not. Or you may think about you paying your fair share of taxes and about certain legalities, or illegalities. But if there is any group of people that believes they are mistreated, disadvantaged, shouldn't we as Christians endeavor to heal their hearts, their fears, and at least understand their point of view, their problems? To listen?

Around verse 10-11 the LORD says He will withhold blessings from those ministers (us Christians) and He will care for his sheep, all of his sheep, and in particular, those sheep who were neglected. 

17 “‘As for you, my sheep, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look, I am about to judge between one sheep and another, between rams and goats. 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must trample the rest of your pastures with your feet? When you drink clean water, must you muddy the rest of the water by trampling it with your feet? 19 As for my sheep, they must eat what you trampled with your feet and drink what you have muddied with your feet!

20 “‘Therefore, this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: Look, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with your side and your shoulder, and thrust your horns at all the weak sheep until you scatter them abroad, 22 I will save my sheep; they will no longer be prey. I will judge between one sheep and another.

23 “‘I will set one shepherd over them, and he will feed them—namely, my servant David. He will feed them and will be their shepherd. 24 I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken!
    ~ Ezekiel 34 (NET)

Without being particular, in my lifetime, much damage has been done against certain people groups. I can't read that without thinking of groups that have been trampled in my lifetime. "We" muddied the waters. Those groups that some of us would like to scatter, don't want to deal with, don't want around here using our government benefits and consuming our tax dollars.

Here I quote from Matthew Henry's commentary on this passage:

Conviction spoken to those of the flock that were fat and strong, the rams and the he-goats (v. 17), those that, though they had not power, as shepherds and rulers, to oppress with, yet, being rich and wealthy, made use of the opportunity which this gave them to bear hard upon their poor neighbours. Those that have much would have more, and, if they set to it, will have more, so many ways have they of encroaching upon their poor neighbours, and forcing from them the one ewe-lamb, 2 Sa. 12:4. Do not the rich oppress the poor merely with the help of their riches, and draw them before the judgment-seats? Jam. 2:6. Poor servants and tenants are hardly used by their rich lords and masters. The rams and the he-goats not only kept all the good pasture to themselves, ate the fat and drank the sweet, but they would not let the poor of the flock have any comfortable enjoyment of the little that was left them; they trod down the residue of the pastures and fouled the residue of the waters, so that the flock was obliged to eat that which they had trodden into the dirt, and drink that which they had muddied, v. 18, 19. This intimates that the great men not only by extortion and oppression made and kept their neighbours poor, and scarcely left them enough to subsist on, but were so vexatious to them that what little coarse fare they had was embittered to them. And this seemed a small thing to them; they thought there was no harm in it, as if it were the privilege of their quality to be injurious to all their neighbours. Note, Many that live in pomp and at ease themselves care not what straits those about them are reduced to, so they may but have every thing to their mind. Those that are at ease, and the proud, grudge that any body should live by them with any comfort. But this as not all; they not only robbed the poor, to make them poorer, but were troublesome to the sick and weak of the flock (v. 21): ...

they did what they could to rid the country of, and so scattered them abroad, as if the poor, whom, Christ says, we must have always with us, were public nuisances, not to be relieved, but sent far away from us. Note, It is a barbarous thing to add affliction to the afflicted. Perhaps these rams and he-goats are designed to represent the scribes and Pharisees, for they are such troublers of the church as Christ himself must come to deliver it from, v. 23. 

I was once and even recently very callous to the plight of other groups. I was ignorant and cared not to listen. I repent of my old opinions.