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A Pastor’s Plea

In my near thirty-years of full-time pastoral ministry, I have never witnessed such chaos, division, and pain at a national and even global level.  I just read today that we are experiencing a combination of 1918 with the Spanish flu and the race riots of 1968.

With the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are learning of 22 new states experiencing a jump in new coronavirus cases.  With the issue of the deep pain, anger, and outrage over racial injustice, we are learning about surveys indicating that 95% of Americans agree that the death of George Floyd was horrifically wrong, and the officers responsible should be charged with murder. 

Although most Americans are united in their disgust and anger over the murder of George Floyd, many are still divided over the best path forward.  Many feel a sense of hopelessness that anything will ever change in our nation, and yet herein lies the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We have “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).  We are able to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that [we] heard” (Colossians 1:23).  Ours is a “living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). 

Through hope, we have opportunity even in the face of adversity.  As Debasish Mridha once wrote, “Hope opens the door of opportunity and shines the way to possibilities.”

So, what is my “pastor’s plea”?  To use these unprecedented times as opportunities for unparalleled possibilities.  Never before in our lifetime have we been afforded such unique possibilities of building bridges, seeking reconciliation, and standing for justice. 

Hasn’t God called us to “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8)?  Hasn’t God declared that He “works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6)?  Hasn’t God revealed that “we are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)?

My plea is for us to remain centered on Christ.
My plea is for the Church to bear witness to unity and equality in all realms of life.
My plea is for us to humble ourselves and repent of any attitudes of racism or hatred.
My plea is for us to listen before we speak and empathize before we defend.
My plea is for us to focus more on building relationships than winning arguments.
My plea is for us to live out the Gospel and not just proclaim the Gospel.
My plea is for us to tell people that the greatest example of someone who brought about personal and social transformation is Jesus Christ.
My plea is for us to demonstrate a love that is patient and kind, that does not envy or boast, that is not arrogant or rude, that does not insist on its own way, that is not irritable or resentful, that does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).
My plea is for the Kingdom of Heaven to reign down here on earth.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

A Movement Starts With One

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“We don’t shake hands with the enemy.”  This statement was made on the heels of Sunday night’s “moment of understanding,” when police officers took off their riot gear and walked with protestors in front of our governor’s residence. 

Opposite extremes in reaction to one event of peace and reconciliation.  When a protestor began moving toward the police, a spray of pepper balls hit the ground near his feet.  But then a strange thing happened.  The man, Malik Muhammad, was allowed to approach, negotiations began, and what followed was “a moment of understanding.”  Before long, a police officer had his arm around Malik, and other police officers and protestors united together. 

The photo above says it all.

Not everyone was happy, however, as they refused to shake hands with the “enemy.”  Some expressed outrage, believing that uniting with the police would mean turning their backs on victims of injustice and racism. 

With so much chaos, confusion, distrust, hatred, and anger, how will we ever heal as a city, state, and nation?  By doing more of what Malik Muhammad did.  We move toward one another.  We listen to one another.  We remove barriers.  We stand up for justice, and we seek reconciliation. 

Most importantly, we live out the Gospel.  The Good News of Jesus is not just about our individual salvation from sin but also about families, communities, social systems, and the dominions of this world coming under the dominion of our loving Savior and King, Jesus Christ. 

In Jesus 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).  For those of us who may have turned a blind eye to the plight of our neighbor and ignored racism and social injustice, may we repent and renew our commitment to be a part of the solution and not the problem.

For those who have experienced the pain and struggle of living in a broken system or who have been on the receiving end of racism, bigotry and prejudice, I don’t come to you with all the answers.  I come to you with a humble heart and a desire to help right the wrongs, for “when one part of the body suffers, we all suffer with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26). 

A movement starts with one.  Thank you, Malik Muhammad, for taking that step toward the police and creating a moment of understanding.  May we all choose to follow.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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