Feb. 7, 2018

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Pastor’s Page: Timothy C. Turley

 

9 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 can still remember when I first heard the term “Manifest Destiny” in high school history class. As a Christian and as an American citizen, I knew that first moment that it was wrong.

        What is Manifest Destiny? In American history it was the idea that God had given the American continent to the Europeans, and they were free to treat the Native Americans as the Israelites had treated the Canaanites. Manifest Destiny was a lie: At no time did God change His definition of “Chosen People” to the people of America, and we were never called to be a new Israel (and Christ died for the Native Americans too)!

        Note the words of Simon Peter in 1 Peter 2:9. There he uses the terms of Israel’s call and applies them to Christians: Not American Christians, but ALL Christians! Everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ are members of “a chosen race…a holy nation.” This race is determined by the Holy Spirit, and the nation is spiritual, without geographical boundaries.

        Today some people still labor under the misunderstanding that America is God’s chosen nation. Is this country blessed? Yes, because of the influence of Christians throughout the centuries. Is the USA God’s chosen nation? No, because His “nation” includes Christians from every race, nation and language! Some even think that American politics will somehow bring in the End Times. That is just another sign of our ethno-centricity. We should never forget: The Kingdom of God is far greater than the USA, and our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20-21)!                     -Pastor Tim

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.                                           Galatians 3:28

 

This past Friday was the most famous of holidays, Groundhog Day. This was obviously a Hallmark Card creation, to get people to buy Groundhog Day cards and huge boxes of candy. Wait, that might actually refer to another February holiday…

When I was growing up as a pastor’s kid in Jefferson County, there was a Southern Baptist holiday called “Race Relations Sunday.” It was in late February, and it invited mostly white Southern Baptist churches to reach out to Christians of other races. When I was in seminary I discovered that black pastors referred to that Sunday as “Groundhog Day:” That was the one day they were allowed to participate in our churches, while the rest of the year they were to remain hidden, just like Punxsutawney Phil!

In March of 1971 our congregation had invited a retired black pastor to speak on Race Relation Sunday. The Friday before someone knocked on our door, and I opened to see 12-15 hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan on our front porch (I was 12). They wanted to speak to my father and demanded that our church withdraw the invitation (or there would be some funerals!). I did not fully understand what was going on, but their evil intent was simple: Race Relations Sunday needed to be canceled…or else.

Almost 47 years later I still have trouble believing that any Christian could be racist. The Lord made us all from one man (Adam), and in one man (Jesus) all believers are adopted into the same spiritual family (see Galatians 3:28 above). The inability to recognize this (racism) is sin, and an insult to the spiritual unity the Lord seeks among His people (John 17:21). For the best picture of the church of Jesus Christ, see Revelation 7:9-12!                                -Pastor Tim