Scroll down and read the “Think About It” post and comments before you read this post. It’ll give you some context.
I listened the other day to a sermon by Alistair Begg called “Christian Lifestyles” on the first few verses of Hebrews 13: “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison as though in prison with them.”
He spoke mostly about what a church should be like, about how the unity and love we should have work itself out. Outstanding stuff to hear, even for those who have been a part of a good church their entire lives. We’re not all going to like each other all the time, but we have a commitment to love one another because we are “brothers” — literally, “from the same womb” — and we’ve made up our mind to do so.
He talked a lot about racial and social integration in churches, and how we need to do a better job of that (and thus the point of the previous post). Here’s part of what he said:
The only place you that can find all this racial (and) social integration is in sporting events by and large. Or — in the church of Jesus Christ. Unless there is an energizing force from outside of a man or a woman that diminishes our external preoccupations with socioeconomic class, with race, color and all of those things, unless that power comes from outside of an individual to engender in its unifying principle a reality that is unknown elsewhere, then it’s a chronicle of despair. Because men and women are essentially sinful. Men and women are essentially selfish. We as individuals go with our own kind, do our own thing, hang with our own group. Who can change that? Only Jesus.
Quoting Sinclair Ferguson: “Whenever we find ourselves attaching importance to possessions, background, schooling or accent as the basis of fellowship, then we are out of step with the example of Christ and such wrongful attitudes need to be dealt with at the foot of the cross.”
Churches are riddled with all of this stuff (wrong attitudes). We are so infected with it that we don’t even know how infected with it we actually are. (That’s) not to condemn us, but to say, let’s step up …
When we make up our minds to love each other, all of this other stuff falls into place. It is volitional, it is an energized commitment. Until we make radical commitments to this notion, we will be sidelined, as soon as we do this, they will be beating down the doors to get in here …
It’s not community based on lowest-common demoninator, it’s community based on the fact that we all come from the same womb.
We are Christians because of that “energizing force” from outside ourselves. It’s nothing we summoned up from the depths of our soul; it’s only God’s grace regenerating us and giving us the faith to believe. And that levels the playing field, no matter how wildly different the other externals are. We need to believe that and figure out how to genuinely live it in a diverse world. Begg goes on to talk in the rest of the message about ministering to strangers and prisoners. Good stuff.