Pastor Kevin Redding
Adult Ministries Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
Can you boldly stand with the Apostle Paul and say “For I am not ashamed of the
gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16 ESV)? Does your life portray the statement “I am not
ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to ALL who believe,” to the Democrat and the Independent and the Republican…to the married and the single…to the citizen and the immigrant…to the white and the African American and the African and the Hispanic and the middle Eastern and the Asian and the European…to the heterosexual and the homosexual and the transgender…to those like me and those not like me…to the fill-in the blank here.
As most of you know, I love sports. I used to love playing sports, and now watching
sports is how I spend my leisure time. In fact, often times when I’m watching a game, my family will ask who I want to win, and more often than not, I’ll say, “I don’t care. I’m just watching.” To which they respond, “how is that even possible?” I’m not sure, but I don’t
always have to have a rooting interest to watch a game.
Over the past week, sports has become increasingly more difficult to watch. Not
because of the product on the field, but because of the actions and rhetoric off of it.
Combine the obsessive/obnoxious tweets of our President, the bellicose comments of the
talking-heads, the incessant “to kneel or not to kneel” debate, and the social media uproar and you have a very distracted and emotionally volatile sport-watching culture. While many are sanctimoniously saying, “I’m done watching sports,” that’s not me. It’s not who I am. I like sports. I don’t stop eating altogether because I have a bad experience at a restaurant, I just think twice before going back there.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the atmosphere surrounding the “protest culture”
that we are living in today. I don’t like that the “protest culture” has infiltrated my leisure and escape haven. I don’t like that the “protest culture” has become more of the story of the games than the games themselves (we heard before, during and after the game about the Cowboys taking a knee BEFORE the National Anthem). While I don’t like those
things—not just in sports but throughout our culture—I have to ask “why?” and “what?” Why don’t I like them (or why do you like them) and what should I do about it?
I think those are the questions we as followers of Christ need to be asking. We need
to not just dismiss the cultural extremes that we are experiencing, but ask what our part
needs to be in the midst of them. On what basis do we interact with our culture, and what is the appropriate action or reaction in the midst of it? All to often, we have sat in judgment with our arms crossed and noses turned up…or we’ve left the stadium all
together—ignoring, marginalizing and dismissing those involved. More and more I’m
convinced that our culture is the way it is because we as followers of Christ have removed ourselves so much (under the banner of “remaining unstained by the world”) that we look around and wonder why our culture is the way it is. Or we’ve so identified with a certain political stance that we are more loyal to a party than we are to Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Whatever the reason, I’m convinced this is the way it is because as believers we have lost our salt and withdrawn our light, in direct disobedience to what Christ specifically said.
So what should our thinking or our filter be in light of our culture? It’s going to
sound simple, but I’m convinced the answer is found in the Gospel—the Good News of Jesus Christ. When we filter things through the lens of the Gospel, we begin seeing people the way that God sees them, and that is made in His image. All of mankind—those we agree with and those we disagree with; those of the same nationality and those from different backgrounds; those of the same color and race and those who are of different race; those who are the same religiously and those who are different; those who are saved and those who are lost—are valuable and important because God made them and God loves them.
We need to begin looking at those in our culture through this lens first, before we
put a label on them. We need to look at them through the eyes of God and not with the eyes of our flesh. We need to look at them through the lens of the Gospel and not the lens of our nationalism. We need to look at them as Christ did as He hung on the cross—“forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.” We need to respond to them the way God responded to us when we were in our sin—by having compassion, showing love, being sacrificial, bringing hope and giving life that is found only through Christ. We must love them the way Christ loves us…whether they kneel, stand, sit, or hide.
We must love instead of run. We must bring hope instead of judgment. We must be
Christ’s love—because that is what our culture needs now more than ever.