God’s impossible family

Glenn preached on Sunday about God’s impossible family. Impossible is the right word!

We live in a world of hurt. A world of brokenness. A world of hate. Where there are different races in a nation, there is racial division. Pride. Wounds. Hate. Segregation. Where there are different tribes there are histories of genocide. Histories of favouritism. Histories of oppression. Where there is difference – in schools, workplaces,  neighbourhoods – there is bullying, gossip and ostracism.

There is no bridging the divides. Many have tried,  but could not sustain it. Many are trying, but not succeeding. Many will try, but shall fail. No person can successfully bridge such deep divides by their own strength. It’s like a little brick bridge trying to stand before a tidal wave. Or a little wooden one gently being lapped at day after day until it rots and decays away.

No, we can’t bridge the divide. But God can.

First, He bridged the divide that separated man from God because of sin:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 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. (Ephesians 2:13-16)

Then, He bridged the gap between people. By doing so, He has created an improbable people, an impossible family. Not content to only heal us of our sins and brokenness, He binds us together as family, of which He is the first.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)

My 2009 SBS_Believers from many nations and backgrounds

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

How? How does God build His impossible family that bridges racial, cultural, tribal, and personal differences?

1) Through His love

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:11-14)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:9-10)

& 2) Through the work of His Spirit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:22-26)

Are you part of God’s impossible family? Let Him heal your hurt and teach you a love that overcomes offence, hatred, and differences. Be part of His conquering love that crosses raging rivers, bridges gaping ravines and scales mighty walls.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4)
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8)

Crying for my nation

Tonight I ask you to do something a little different with me. Tonight I ask that we pray together.

Tonight I decided that it is time I call South Africa home. I wasn’t born here, but it has become my land. I have hesitated to claim it as my nation until now. I suppose as a foreigner with no ‘worldly’ roots here (no property, permanent job, etc) I haven’t felt like I have the right to a claim. It is therefore interesting that it is now – when it is facing a dark hour – that my heart won’t let me distance myself from it or its pain.

It was only because of God’s call that I first came here on the back of the 2008 xenophobic attacks and His peace remains over me now. It is not fear that I feel, but sadness and grief. I have formed friendships with people from all the racial groups that make up this beautiful rainbow nation. I also have a host of friends here who, like me, were born abroad. They are beautiful people. Most of them know God and do not judge people by their nation of descent, or the colour of their skin, or their tribe. Yet it is not only their faces that come to my mind tonight as I pray and grieve. It is a mass of faces belonging to people I’ve never met, all the people residing in this nation.

Please join with me in prayer for these people and this nation:

Father, we thank you that you are sovereign over all the nations. We thank you that your Son has died for all people. Your kingdom is not bound by international borders. All men and women were made in your image. Please speak these truths to all those throughout South Africa.

Kill the flame of violence that has been stirred. First, statues were used as an excuse to excite the masses, and now African foreigners have become the target. The heart of man is dark, but you bring light. We ask that you shine your light on this land. Free those stirring up the hatred from their captivity to darkness. Break the chains that bind them and causing them to desire to inflict pain on others.

Protect the innocent. Comfort those who mourn. Grant your peace to those who know fear.

We also lift up the leaders, politicians and police force of this nation before you. We ask that you will be the One guiding their decision making. We ask that you will give them a spirit of boldness to do what is right. We ask that they will step up regardless of what the consquence might be to their career, power, or life. We pray for leaders bowing down under the weight of your Spirit, humbling seeking you will. We pray for protection over those sent to quell the violence.

Lord, we ask that you will redeem the past of this nation and put the hatred to death. Let this land see a new era of peace and freedom with leaders walking in fear of the Lord, and who care for the people and not their status, assests or personal power.   

In the power you have granted us and in the name of your beloved Son we ask these things. Amen.

Revelation 7:9-10 After these things, I looked, and there was a crowd so large that no one was able to count it! They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language. They were standing in front of the throne and the lamb and were wearing white robes, with palm branches in their hands.They cried out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the lamb!”

7:13-17 “Who are these people wearing white robes,” one of the elders asked me, “and where did they come from?” I told him, “Sir, you know.” Then he told me, “These are the people who are coming out of the terrible suffering. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.That is why: “They are in front of the throne of God and worship him night and day in his Temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will never be hungry or thirsty again. Neither the sun nor its heat will ever beat down on them, because the lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs filled with the water of life, and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”