Gospel of Jesus is for all people


the-gospel-is-for-all

In the early 1970’s my mom was in a band and traveling all over the United States. The Jesus Movement was taking place and teenagers all over the United States were surrendering their lives to Jesus. My mom and her band traveled to a certain city in Alabama to play at a church. When they got there the church was thrilled to have them.  Until…. Until the church found out the drummer was African American. The church said “Your drummer is African American and will not be allowed into this church to play”.

My mom was appalled when she heard this. She had read in the Bible that the Gospel message of Jesus was for all people. She was not having any of that. She told the preacher if you don’t let our drummer in, we will go play on the street corner. Sadly, the preacher turned my mom’s band away. This did not stop my mom and the band from playing. They chose to play of the corner opposite of the church and the majority of the people joined her band instead of being in church that day.

While in college one day at a church service my roommate turned to me and said “Billy, I love you and I’m sorry”. I was like, “Sorry for what, bro? We just chilling in church right now listening to the Word.” He said “I was raised to hate white people and that see white people as the devil.” He went on to say he was upset when he had learned that he was to have a white roommate. But I treated him with such dignity that it convicted him. We hugged and wept together and to this day, we are brothers. It pains me to see that racism still exists in the church and in our culture.

In the Bible, in Acts 10, God gives the Apostle Peter (the leader of the early church) a vision.  At the time, despite the teachings of Jesus, all Peter can see was his Jewishness; his ethnicity and traditions. After the vision, when Peter shares the Gospel of Jesus with Cornelius (a Gentile, not a Jew), he begins to understand his vision from God. The Gospel is for all people. Peter must look beyond his politics, race, and traditions. In Acts 11 Peter will go and make a stand to the church leaders (all Jewish at that time) that the Gospel is for all people; who are they to come against God and His message?

Our culture is little different. There are African Americans, Hispanics, Caucasians (White people), and Asians who, sadly, cannot see beyond their race. There are many who allow our politics, race, ideologies, and traditions to keep us from loving others and sharing the good news of Jesus to them.

The Bible gives no room to any race or group of people to be full of hate and racism, or to foment division. What we need right now is for people like Peter (of all races) to rise up, like my mom and like my roommate, and say “Enough”.  This is wrong and no matter the cost I will stand for Jesus, His love, and His Gospel message. We must grasp that God created all people in His image and loves all people.

Are we treating Police Officers as people created in the Image of God? Are we treating African American as people created in the Image of God? Are we allowing our race, politics, and ideologies to blind us, like so many before us. To the extent that we refuse to love others as ourselves?

Just like in the Book of Acts, God’s good news message of Jesus resulted in racial reconciliation. And when the Gospel does its work, we can see racial reconciliation in today’s culture as well. But it will mean counting the cost, sharing Jesus with everyone, and loving all people no matter what others of our own race say or tell us.

I leave you with this challenge, the same challenge I gave to the church I pastor:  Caucasians, intentionally go to African Americans and Hispanic people and get to know them. Get to know their story and see how you can love and serve them. I also challenge African Americans and Hispanics to hear Caucasians out. Hear why they believe what they believe and think the way they think. I also challenge every race to intentionally seek out police officers to pray for them, befriend them, get to know their story, serve them, and love them.

We have an opportunity to impact our nation in a positive way; I pray we do. Never forget the Gospel of Jesus is for all people and God loves all races. Therefore all people should, like God, love all races.

~ Billy Bernhard, Lead Pastor of Acts Community Church

 

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3 thoughts on “Gospel of Jesus is for all people

  1. 1973 – Inside the mind of a “Jesus Person”

    Wow, that “Love Song” concert was groovy, man. They are Right On! The Holy Trinity isn’t “Jesus, Paul, and Chuck”. Besides Jesus, all the characters in the Bible had frailties- like Jonah and Paul. God told them to go one way, and they disobeyed God and did the opposite- but God still worked through them eventually, after they repented. It’s encouraging that God can use imperfect messengers like them, because it proves He can also use an imperfect man like me to advance His kingdom, when I humble myself, repent, and obey His commands. Cool !

    But what do I do with this truth? I don’t know of a single church that simply teaches the Bible simply and preaches the whole counsel of God, including Paul’s sins and mistakes. They all teach “we should be like Paul” and “we should listen to Paul” without examining Paul’s life and Paul’s teachings in the light of the teachings of Jesus in Scripture. They all make Paul and his teachings the one absolute standard of right and wrong, rather than God’s commandments and the testimony of Jesus. They make Paul the center, not Jesus. I want to bring my hippie friends to church- but how to I explain to them that it’s taboo to mention Paul’s sins and doctrinal errors in church?

    How can I make them understand that they should deal with “Paul Worship” the same way that I deal with smoking weed? When I’m at the beach with the hip crowd, I won’t take a stand in public. I won’t say “I’m high on Jesus, and so using a mind-altering drug for recreational purposes is wrong, because Jesus is better.” I don’t want to be rejected by my peers. So I’ll smoke with them, but I won’t let the weed alter my own mind, because “I didn’t inhale!” In order to be accepted in the Establishment church fellowship, you have to smoke the weed of “Paul Worship”- just be true to yourself and “don’t inhale.”

    Maybe I could speak in code, like they did in the New Testament church with the fish symbol. I could just say “Jesus is our model.” But never discuss the Scriptures that show why Paul is NOT our model. Then the Paulist Establishment church won’t persecute me, but the other Jesus People will know that I’m still keeping the faith and “not inhaling.”

    What I really need is a short catchy slogan to let my fellow hippies know what is expected of them in the Establishment Church now in 1973, regarding the issue of Paul the Pharisee’s sins. Lets see……. “If you don’t ask about Paul’s sins, I won’t tell about them”…. hmmm. Kind of long and wordy. I need to refine that. Maybe there is someone I could bounce this off, to get some ideas. I know! My buddy has a new friend from a Baptist background that seems really smart and good with words. I don’t think he’s involved in church much, but I could talk with that guy. Clinton. What was his first name? One syllable, beginning with a consonant…. George Clinton?… maybe not. Anyway, I’ll talk with Clinton and see if he has an idea for a short catchy slogan- maybe boiled down to four words or so…

    It’s not easy for me now in 1973, as a young man just trying to start out in ministry. We’re in a recession, the economy is terrible, jobs are scarce, immorality is rampant, and in many ways the country is falling apart. For years now America has been stuck in a seemingly endless, unwinnable guerilla war in an Asian nation that borders China. The Middle East is very unstable. Based on what’s happening in Israel, it looks like Jesus could be returning soon.

    I don’t have any position or influence in the Christian world. I know from the Scriptures that “Paul Worship” is wrong, but the entire Church Establishment says it’s right. Who am I to challenge hundreds years of false man-made tradition, like Jesus, Martin Luther, Columbus, Copernicus and Galileo? I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me (and my family).

    I really will “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, and wave his banner high”- just not right now in 1973. Later, when I’m at the height of my career, and I’m financially secure and I don’t have to worry about finding a job or keeping my job, and I have some real influence- maybe 40 years from now, when I’m, like, in my sixties, say in around 2013- that’s when I’ll really be able to stand up for Jesus. Things will be different then. I’ll do it then.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Parable of the House Painters

    A homeowner called his friend, who was a painting contractor. “Friend, I want to hire you and your team to paint my house and my garage. Paint the house first, and I’ll stay in the garage until you’re done. Then when the paint is dry, I’ll move back into the house, and you can paint the garage.”

    The painting contractor hired a new foreman named Paul, and gave him the homeowner’s instructions. (Paul insisted that all the workers show respect for him by addressing him as “Boss Paul.”) Paul called the team of painters together and told them:
    “Boys, we need to paint this garage and house. The quicker we do it, the more profitable it is for us. So get to work! Since the garage is smaller, we can finish that quicker. Then those who finished the garage can go help the others finish the house.”

    One worker objected: “But Boss Paul, those were not the owner’s instructions! We are supposed to paint the house first. Only after the house is finished and the paint is dry can we go and paint the garage.”

    Paul replied: “I’m Boss, you work for me, and you do as I say. We are painters, and we paint. We don’t have time for debates about ‘which one is first’. We need to get to work applying that paint to the garage and house as quick as we can. Which owner would be upset if we finished early? The job is to paint the garage and house – what difference does it make ‘which one is first’”?

    “It makes a big difference to the owner,” the worker objected. To which Paul replied, “you’re fired.” Paul then took his team of painters, and started painting the garage and the house.

    When the homeowner returned in the evening, he was furious. He had nowhere to sleep, and had to go stay in a hotel for several days. The homeowner’s friend, the painting contractor, apologized, and explained:

    “I hired a new foreman named Paul, but that was a huge mistake. He ignored your instructions that I passed on to him. You don’t know him, and I’ve just barely met him.
    To be extremely polite, I could say that Paul ‘says some things which are difficult to understand.’ To be more direct, I could say Paul talks like an arrogant megalomaniac with a messiah complex, proclaiming; ‘I am not under the law’ but yet making up his own laws as he goes along, that everyone else has to obey. Paul said: ‘I became your father…. therefore I urge you to imitate me,’ and ‘I have become all things to all men.’ Paul thinks he’s Boss, and doesn’t need to listen to your instructions that I gave him.”

    In Matthew 22 and Mark 12, Jesus identified two commandments, saying one of them is the first and greatest most important one. Which one is it? The one in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, or the one in Leviticus 19:18 ?

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