Love Everyone Always…

Dear newhope,

I would imagine that you may be troubled by the recent events that have unfolded in our country as a result of the protests and death in Charlottesville, Virginia. Like you, I find myself deeply concerned for our country. I am sad. I am troubled. I am confused because I thought the arc of morality had bent more towards justice than it actually has. It was Theodore Parker who said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” It is obvious there is still a lot of bending left to do.

And, yet, I am hopeful because I truly believe churches like newhope have a golden opportunity to embody what it means to be God’s people in the midst of such chaos and turmoil. As such, the Holy Spirit has led me to implore you with the following challenges/encouragement:

First, please remember the gRACE series I taught on racism and the multi-ethnic church right before leaving on Sabbatical. (If you missed it, you can pick up the entire series at any of our Resource Centers this Sunday or go to https://www.newhopechurch.org/series/57/ to watch online) You might recall that the Bible speaks very clearly about these racial issues. The Word of God says, “As a prisoner for the Lord, therefore, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1 – 3) The central message in Ephesians is that God has taken the entire ethnos, all nations of diversity, and through the blood of Jesus, He has made us all one! Therefore, let me remind us who we are as a community of faith. We are God’s children. In God’s family, there is no room for any inequality and/or injustice. Regardless of your upbringing or any baggage you might bring to the table, Christ Jesus has broken down the walls of hostility and the barriers that keep us separate. As a result, in God’s family, WE LOVE EVERYONE ALWAYS!

Secondly, please pray for our governmental and civic leaders. Pray that God’s will might be accomplished regardless of the person or groups on the front lines of addressing these issues. Pray that the Kingdom of God will draw near on earth, as it is in heaven. Pray that our country will somehow make it through the turmoil of these days, and come out on the other side with a greater appreciation and respect for all people, regardless of one’s history, upbringing, belief system, skin color, and anything else dividing the United States of America.

Thirdly, please reach across the divides that separate us and start building bridges with people who are different than you. You might recall, as I wrapped up the gRACE series back in May, I said something to the effect, “We will know we are getting there when we not only attend a multi-ethnic church like newhope, but when we break bread in our homes with people who are very different than us, invite people who have different skin colors to sleep in our homes, and when we actually experience authentic community with those who are different from us in our life groups!” How are you doing with all of that? We might not be able to change the nation today, but we can change our corner of the world and truly embody what it means to live in peace with sisters and brothers of all ethnicities.

I am praying for you today. I am praying for our nation. And I am praying that the people called newhope will continue to live as a beacon of faith, hope, and love. (I Corinthians 13:13)

I can’t wait to see you September 10th!

Because of Jesus,
Pastor Benji

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