I heard this story this week from a good friend who has been following this series on ‘How to Overcome Racism’ in the church. And his story illustrates the reason why we need to teach and are teaching on the subject of racism. As it turns out, he was attending a church in Phoenix Arizona and volunteered to work with the Pastor in building up the work of God there. The Pastor was African-American as was most of the congregation. The volunteer was Caucasian. As it turns out, he was passing out fliers in the neighborhood with a young lady from the church who was all working for God. So both of them are going house to house. After a while, they decide to take a break from their labors. They hadn’t eaten anything, so they decide to go to a restaurant. Now mind you, he was not romantically interested in this lady. They were just hungry and wanted to replenish themselves. While they are in the restaurant, he notices someone staring at them to the point where it got to be uncomfortable. He didn’t think about it. He didn’t really put the pieces together. A few months after this, the pastor calls him into his office and tells him he has to leave the church.’Leave the church, why?’, he asks. The pastor tells him, ‘Because, you are demon possessed.’ So this man begins to quote the Word of God all the while confessing the Lordship of Jesus. So he says to the pastor, ‘Does this sound like I’m demon possessed?’ ‘No’, says the pastor but you’re still going to have to leave the church. The church, apparently, didn’t approve of anything interracial. Months later when judgment fell on that church this pastor reconnected with this man and apologized. He had gotten pressure from his deacons and constituents in the church and had caved into their demands. Racism in the church. It exists. There’s no need to hide from it. There’s no need to act like it’s not there. It shouldn’t be there but is there and that’s why we’re doing this series on ‘How to Overcome Racism in the Church’. We’re continuing on with it in this week’s Light on Life.
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Each week’s podcast contains a call to action. The Word of God will not produce in your life unless you put into operation.
This week’s call is:
Racism, strife, and division are evil works of the enemy which have no place in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Recognizing the enemy, pulling him out of the shadows into the light is one key to overcoming it.
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Each week’s podcast also contains a question designed to encourage testimony. Testimony is vital to a believer’s life. We overcome by it (Rev. 12:11).
This week’s question is:
Question: How has the spirit of division impacted you or those around you? Did you recognize it? How did you overcome it? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can find additional information on Racism in the Church in the resources listed below.
- #S3:034: How to Overcome Racism in the Church [Podcast]
- #S3:035: More of How to Overcome Racism in the Church [Podcast]
- #S3:036: Even More of How to Overcome Racism in the Church
- #S3:037: Yet More of How to Overcome Racism in the Church
Emery committed his life to the Lord Jesus Christ over 40 years ago and has served as both a full-time pastor and an itinerant minister. Both he and his wife Sharon of 35 years emphasize personal growth and development through the Word of God. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is both the focus and the hallmark of their mission. Read more about them here.
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- As we said in our earlier podcasts, racism is an evil spirit of division sent to magnify the God created differences magnifying that difference with a spirit of hatred.
- One key to overcoming this spirit is in understanding that difference is a good God thing.
- Diversity is God’s idea.
- God, in His magnificent creation, did not make everything the same.
- People are not the same.
- Men and women are not the same.
- They are not supposed to be.
- Mammals are not the same.
- Marine life is not the same.
- We can go on and on about diversity.
Why Diversity is A God Idea
- Did you know that there are roughly 400,000 varieties of flowers in the world?
- What do you think the number is for marine life?
- There are, in the neighborhood of 2 million varieties of marine life in the world today.
- Let’s go to the animal kingdom.
- How many species of animals exist on planet earth?
- The answer?
- Well, no one really knows for sure because over 10,000 species are discovered every single year.
- You think your local zoo has all the varieties that there are.
- But next year 10,000 new ones will be uncovered.
- Right now, there are over 1.5 million species in the animal kingdom and scientists are thinking the projections can run as high as 50 million once all the dust settles.
- What about colors?
- How many colors do you think there are?
- According to the researchers, humans can see 1000 shades of light and dark, 100 levels of red-green, 100 levels of yellow-blue.
- When you factor all of this together, you get 10 million possible color combinations that the human eye can see.
- Ask yourself this question.
- Why would God design the eye to see such a wide range of colors?
- It’s because these colors all exist in His creation.
- You know there are some people who have caught a glimpse of heaven.
- Paul was one of those men.
2 Corinthians 12:2–4 (NKJV) 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—4 how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
- Commentators agree that Paul was speaking of himself in this passage.
- But, Paul is not the only one who caught a vision of heaven.
- One of the things people report, who have had such an experience, is the incredible vivid colors they see in heaven.
- Clearly, God likes the diversity of colors.
- Why do you suppose God didn’t just make everything on planet earth black, white or gray?
- If it was up to some people that’s what everything would be.
- No color at all.
- You know some just can’t handle diversity.
- They feel threatened by it.
- People who are insecure cannot handle diversity.
- You can enjoy diversity and be secure while you’re at it.
- The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity.
- People who are insecure do not like diversity.
- They want convention, they want sameness, and they want things to always be as they were.
- If God deals with them about living a certain way for a certain mission or purpose, they are not going to step out if they are insecure.
- Insecure people want sameness.
- White people who are insecure want everybody to be white.
- Jesus is not white.
- Yellow people who are insecure want everybody to be yellow.
- Black people who are insecure only see black.
- Jesus is not black.
- If you do not like diversity, you will not do well in heaven because people from every tribe, nation and tongue are there.
- Heaven is full of diversity.
Revelation 7:9 (NKJV) 9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
- The Bible says there’s a great multitude of all nations and tribes and people.
- How many people groups are there on planet earth?
- The answer to that question, 24,000.
- What about tongues or languages?
- The scripture says every tongue is represented there.
- How many tongues are there in existence today?
- The answer is 6,909 living languages.
- What about the dead languages?
- All of them are represented before God.
- One source has this figure as 200,000 languages.
- Doesn’t this passage in Revelation stir you to thinking?
- God divided the people at the Tower of Babel by confusing the single language of the people forcing them to scatter and huddle up with those who spoke the same tongue.
Genesis 11:6–9 (NKJV) 6 And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
- But here in heaven, He gathers all of the people with all of their dialects together into one place.
- It’s the reverse of what happened at the Tower of Babel.
- At Babel, God scattered the people.
- But in glory, He gathers the people diverse in language, diverse in culture and nationality.
- Diversity is a good God thing.
- Someone has imagined the carpenter’s tools holding a conference. Brother Hammer presided. Several suggested he leave the meeting because he was too noisy. Replied the Hammer, “If I have to leave this shop, Brother Screw must go also. You have to turn him around, again and again, to get him to accomplish anything.” Brother Screw then spoke up. “If you wish, I will leave. But Brother Planer must leave too. All his work is on the surface. His efforts have no depth.” To this Brother Planer responded, “Brother Ruler will also have to withdraw, for he is always measuring folks as though he were the only one who is right.” Brother Ruler then complained against Brother Sandpaper, “You ought to leave too because you’re so rough and always rubbing people the wrong way. In the midst of all this discussion, in walked the Carpenter of Nazareth. He had arrived to start His day’s work. Putting on His apron, He went to the bench to make a pulpit from which to proclaim the gospel. He employed the hammer, screw, plane, ruler, sandpaper, and all the other tools. After the day’s work when the pulpit was finished, Brother Hammer arose and remarked, “Brethren, I observe that all of us are workers together with the Lord.”
- God is a God of variety.
- He didn’t make everybody hammers.
- He didn’t make everybody screws or sandpaper.
- In nature every snowflake is different, every fingerprint, every face.
- Likewise, God is a God of variety in His church.
- What a diversity of gifts He has bestowed on believers to equip them for service.
- What kind of differences are there?
Differences of Gifts
- There are nine manifestations of the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:4–10 (NKJV) 4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
- The Greek word ‘diversities’ in the phrase ‘diversities of gifts’ means distributions.
- It means the act of distributing, spreading, or apportioning.
- There are nine of these distributions of the Spirit.
- Why are there nine and not just one?
- Why did God pick nine?
- One reason God is a God of diversity.
- What about the ministry gifts?
Spiritual Gifts and Giftings Are Different
- All Ministry gifts are not the same.
Ephesians 4:8–12 (NKJV) 8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
- There are five ministry gifts.
- Everyone is not meant to be a pastor.
- Ministry gifts are people anointed by God to be apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists, and teachers.
- They are all different in emphasis and function.
- On top of that, there are different levels of anointing associated with each gift.
- On top of that, God adds personality which adds flavor to any gift.
- When you mix all of that up, you end up with a super wide spectrum of ministers.
- Then there’s another list of gifts in Romans twelve.
Romans 12:6–8 (NKJV) 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
- Here are eight more ways people can flow by the endowment of the Spirit.
- You have here, prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading, mercifulness.
- God’s people have differing gifts.
- Take a look at the word ‘differing’ in verse six.
- The Greek word ‘differing’ means unlike in nature, quality, form, or degree.
- The Greek word is an adjective which means unlike in nature, quality, form, or degree.
- The word pertains to being different. The focus is on distinctiveness. 1
- These gifts in people and through people differ.
- Everyone is not meant to minister the same way.
- Everyone doesn’t have the same gifting.
- Difference is good.
- Difference is God.
- Through difference, there is illumination and revelation and the knowledge of God.
- God didn’t give anyone man everything.
- No one man is the source of all that there is to know about God.
- He spread that knowledge across the body of Christ.
- Meaning, if we want the fullness of God, we have to have one another.
- So, you can see why racism is so deadly.
- It separates people based on differences.
- And when separation occurs, you become handicapped because you don’t have all the pieces.
- The piece you need to the question you have about God may be in your neighbor across the street.
- So, God-given supernatural gifts and giftings are all different.
- In the latter part of First Corinthians twelve, there’s yet one more list of gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:27–30 (NKJV) 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28 And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
- In this second list of eight and all by God’s appointment, we have apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healings, helps, administrations, and diverse tongues.
- Notice the questions Paul asks at the end of this list.
- Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?
- Everyone is not the same.
- Everyone is not supposed to be the same.
- God put a diversity of gifts into the church.
- These gifts flow and express themselves through a diversity of people with diverse personalities.
- No two pastors are alike.
- No two teachers are the same.
- No two anything is alike because God is a God of diversity.
- Enjoy the differences between people.
- Know that God is a God of differences.
- He is a God of diversity.
- William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 239. ↩