In God's good providence, each servant is essential and yet replaceable in the mission. This comes as a relief to people with a tendency to over-serve.
Cultural programs that require depersonalization and denial of the individual are inherently flawed and doomed to fail. Humans are image bearers of one God who is three Persons, indivisibly united yet distinct. As such, our species is made for diversity in harmony, not peace at the price of uniformity. A secular author who expressed this instinct well was Aldous Huxley. In 1958, under the Cold War cloud of communist experiments, he observed in Brave New World Revisited...
No doubt, 2016 was an incredible, daunting, and rewarding year for the Spotts family. We ping-ponged from California to Arizona a dozen times, finished seminary, had a baby, and more. Here's a little video summary with some more big news.
Some friends of mine are serving as missionaries in Ghana. From what I gather, it is not easy work. Just yesterday, though, I came upon an encouraging passage from Ignatius' letter to Polycarp, written in the first century. He urged the younger pastor,
"Be more zealous than you are... lend everybody a hand, as the Lord does you... Let your deeds be your deposits, so that you will eventually get back considerable savings."
The reward which God shall grant for our works done in faith is of grace. It will nonetheless be a reward proportioned to our service, while greatly outweighing any opportunity costs involved. I'm jealous for the blessing the Lord is preparing on behalf of my missionary friends, doubtless one that will crown Christ admirably. Because I cannot have their reward, but must receive one suited to my service, I will need to serve all the more heartily so that I can share the same joy with them in glory. Lord, bless us all to run the race so as to win.
In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a paper titled, "It is not enough to condemn black power." In it, he wrote that "the majority of Negroes want to share power to bring about a community in which neither power nor dignity will be colored black or white." His words were directed to a minority within the black community who used violence as a means of securing justice, which King roundly condemned. This clip of a young man using wisdom, reason, and love to seek peace and understanding, captures the spirit of King's noble aim. I was especially impressed with the unity in Christ which this young man placed above (not in denial of) differences of race. For what it's worth, I invite any of my brothers and sisters to pray with me, and I will pray for you, regardless of your color or culture.
The only lasting way forward is for individuals to be converted and transformed by their spiritual identity. There is "neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ" (Gal 3:28). United to Jesus, the Head of the Body, the white man must say of his black brother, “he is blood of my blood, my own flesh in Christ, created black for God's glory.” Likewise, the black Christian must say of his white brethren, “our eternal, fraternal union is defined by faith, not color.” The glory which shall be shared equally among races in the New Creation is revealed now in the equity of our love for one another. For that reason, I have more substantial commonality with persons of another race or even language, with whom I share the Spirit, than I would with an otherwise identical clone of myself if he were not converted.
Christian, do you struggle to give with the right heart, freely and cheerfully (2 Cor 9:7)? The way out of one's own tight fist is by dwelling on and receiving the doctrine of God's own bounty. It means more than affirming that "because God is generous, I ought to be." This mindset is purely of the law and powerless to affect change. Freedom to give joyfully comes through meditating upon and rejoicing in the good news that in Christ, God graciously directs his omnipotence toward all our needs. Providence is dispensed from the account of divine goodwill. For that reason, we can give cheerfully trusting the Father to provide enough for this life as well as an exceeding reward of grace in the world to come. Above all, we can lean on his promise to provide the Spirit of generosity to overcome our doubting, idolatrous tendencies.
For more on this subject listen to this sermon on Mal 3:6-12, "Will Man Rob God?"
There’s an image in Scripture that tells us judgment is passed for believers. The kind of judgment that a judge rules over criminals in court. It's over. You're not guilty. And here's why.