gospel

One week ago today, George Floyd was killed while under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. At the very least, Floyd’s death was unjust (he was being arrested for a counterfeit bill). At the worst, it was an act of racial violence. Since his death last Monday, protests (peaceful) and riots (violent) erupted across our country.

Let’s acknowledge a few things before moving forward. Most police officers are not racist. Most officers put their lives on the line serving all the people in their communities. Most protestors are not vandals. Most of the recent protests are peaceful and not violent. Where racial violence and destructive behaviors occur they should be met with the force of law. Anarchy does not offer solutions.

Our country was already at an emotional and psychological boiling point with the disruption caused by Covid-19. In recent years, racial tensions have continued to grow as a result of unjust acts and/or highly publicized violent responses by white police officers against black suspects. Or as in the case that happened earlier this year in Georgia, white citizens taking the life of a black man.

It is not my aim in this article to jump to conclusions or offer sweeping judgments. I don’t have the details. I’m also a white man in a predominantly white rural town. My local context is very different than many places in our country right now. But as I watch the protests and the violence and the claims of injustice facing our land, it is right to claim the gospel and gospel-centered living as the solution our world needs.

In the last several months, Christians have been balancing the tension of being Christians and citizens. Do we push back against government bans of worship services that we may think limit our First Amendment rights? Do we act as citizens seeking the welfare of our fellow man by abiding by these statutes? This tension is not easy.

A cursory look at Bible sheds light on how those who follow God can keep their convictions and work toward the betterment of society. Joseph worked for the benefit of Egypt. Daniel served for the welfare of Babylon. Paul commanded submission to the Roman government.

The implication in Scripture is that followers of Jesus are to work for a better city and society by adopting a biblical worldview, loving each other and our neighbors, and working for justice and righteousness even in the midst of a pagan culture.

The Minor Prophets in the Old Testament decried injustice and idolatry. As followers of Jesus, we must do the same. The gospel of Jesus Christ offers us a paradigm for responding to racism, injustice, and the broken world around us.

The gospel is universal. It is good news for all people, everywhere. Racism has no place in the body of Christ, and we must work against all its tenets in our world. God created mankind in his image: the imago Dei found in Genesis 1:28. The Kingdom of Christ is universal. The church described in Revelation 5 contains people from every tribe, language, people, and nation. The doctrine of the imago Dei and the extent of the gospel teach us that we must uphold the inherent dignity of every person and view them as individuals Jesus died to redeem.

The gospel is the very picture of injustice and justice. Jesus suffered greater injustice than any other person who has ever lived. He was perfect, yet faced criminal charges. He was innocent, yet sentenced to death. Jesus identifies with the marginalized and those who experience injustice. But also on the cross Jesus faced justice: God’s justice against our sin. Because God sent Jesus to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, we can experience the grace and mercy of a loving God. Christ’s salvation delivered on the cross demands that we as Christians seek justice, righteousness, peace, mercy, and grace for those around us.

The gospel is the only solution to a broken world. Hate. Racism. Violence. Murder. Looting. Vandalism. Abortion. Injustice. War. Dishonesty. These are just a few of the realities in our broken world. As followers of Christ, we do not have to be content with the status quo. Because we have experienced the gospel that changed us, we can embrace a gospel-centered lifestyle. We can and must work toward a better world. But to whatever extent the gospel succeeds in our lives, our homes, and our cities, our world will still remain broken. Only the return of Christ to set up his permanent kingdom will fix the broken world that we see around us.

We need the Deliverer to rescue us from all our sins. As I was listening to this old song written by Rich Mullins, sung by Rick Elias, I was reminded that Jesus alone is our Answer, our Hope, and the only One who can fix what we’ve broken.

To quote John in Revelation 22:20, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be preaching a series entitled “Patterns of Prayer.” If you’re interested, you can find our worship services on Vimeo, YouTube, or on our church FaceBook page. One of the main reasons I’m preaching a series on prayer is that I feel inadequate in my prayer life.

When comparing my prayer life to those of great Christians of the past: Martin Luther who prayed for 2-3 hours a day, Hudson Taylor who awoke at 4 am nearly every day to pray, or George Müller who cared for orphans literally by prayer, it feels as if I fall very short of what I should be.

Maybe you feel this way as well. Maybe you are tempted to look at the biblical heroes and lament your shortcomings. Noah built an ark and rescued man and animals, Moses led 2 million Hebrews out of Egypt, David slew a giant, Paul traveled the world preaching the gospel. If we succumb to the temptation to compare our Christian lives to the spiritual heroics of biblical characters, we recognize what we lack and how we fall short.

But is this the way we are to think? Should we compare ourselves to the biblical heroes of the past? What does the Bible teach us about self-perceptions and reality?

It is easy sometimes to view the Bible through a romantic lens. By romantic I mean the viewpoint of romanticism that elevates characters and events to some idealized perspective. While sometimes unintentional, we promote this interpretive strategy when we put the biblical characters on pedestals and make them our models. No doubt we can learn much from the faith and obedience of the characters in the Bible, but we must not romanticize our perspective of them.

They were human. They needed forgiveness and redemption. Noah got drunk, Abraham lied, Jacob deceived, Moses murdered, David committed adultery, Peter denied, Paul and Barnabas divided. I could go on, but you get the idea. Bible characters were sinful as well, and the viewpoint the Bible takes on its characters is instructive for us.

The realism of the Bible is that God does not excuse sin, but neither is he finished with us when He finds sin in us. and for this we should be thankful.

Francis Schaeffer, No Little People, 31.

Here’s the reality. Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and every other biblical character besides Jesus were sinners who needed grace and forgiveness. God used these men and women in spite of their faults because God is full of grace and mercy.

Take a look at the Bible. Look for the flaws and sins of the biblical heroes. It won’t take you long to find them. This is not to excuse or minimize sin. The cross is God’s statement about how he hates sin. But only Jesus has ever been perfect.

God is not waiting on you to be perfect before he uses you. This is good news. You and I are sinners and will continue to sin. We need the grace of God, but we can also be used greatly by God.

You’re going to fail. So am I. Paul told his Philippian readers to “walk worthy of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). But sometimes my steps, thoughts, words, and actions will not be very gospel worthy. Neither will yours.

The good news is that we have the gospel. If we walk in a state of humility where we confess our sins quickly, God will forgive us. The true test of Christian living is not perfection, but rather letting God bear his gospel fruit in our lives.

Here are some realistic expectations that I trust will encourage you:

  • Anticipate your sinful nature. You and I will make mistakes, act unwisely, or sin. Even being redeemed, we remain imperfect. For example, this stress-laden pandemic has induced short tempers and anxious thoughts. While our behavior might be sinful, it does not have to be disqualifying.
  • Remember the gospel. The Bible reveals that God is holy, we are sinful, and Christ came to redeem us from sin. The solution to our sinfulness is not better behavior, but rather a better Savior.
  • Ask for forgiveness. Our response to our sinful behaviors should not be to minimize them, but to confront them. We confront them by confessing them to Christ. When we confess, God promises to forgive and cleanse.
  • Walk in the Spirit. As we grow in our faith, we might overcome some sinful behaviors, but we will never reach perfection until heaven. Yet we can mature. We will mature and find strength in weakness and faith in fear by walking in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit is obeying God’s Word, communing with him in prayer, and worshiping him in praise.

Don’t expect perfection of yourself (or others for that matter). Only Jesus is perfect. That’s why we have the gospel. But do seek the comfort offered through the real teachings of the Bible: God knows our sinful nature. He provided Jesus for our forgiveness. He promises to forgive and use us.

Hope you are encouraged by these biblical and realistic expectations.

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash.

To replicate means “to make a copy of; to reproduce.” When used in the context of the Christian mission, replication carries with it the expectation of making disciples.

This is the fourth and final article in a series about the habits of spiritually healthy pastors. In the previous articles, I addressed the worship habitslearning habits, and serving habits of spiritually healthy pastors.

When we worship, learn, serve, and replicate, we embrace the mission of Christ to become his followers in action and attitude. 

While worshiping, learning, and serving should be personal habits and community experiences, we must guard against them becoming merely church activities. We have plenty of church activities. 

What we need more than activity is to make sure we’re replicating the life of Jesus into another person. The following three habits build discipleship into our daily decision-making. 

HABIT #1: SHARE THE GOSPEL PERSONALLY. 

No doubt, most of us share the gospel regularly in our preaching. We must do this. In fact, during these days of streaming church services, we may be communicating the gospel to more people than would ever visit our church. 

But public preaching doesn’t take the place of personal witnessing. Paul instructed Timothy, “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). Personal evangelism is work, but it’s a necessary habit for the pastor/church leader. 

Opportunities and relationships are the keys to sharing the gospel regularly. As pastors, we need to create opportunities for witnessing by getting into our communities and around unbelievers. 

Volunteering at local ministries and non-profits, coaching a kids’ sports team, and contacting visitors to your church will provide numerous opportunities for sharing the gospel. 

When those opportunities arise, we must be willing to engage the work of building relationships and continuing gospel conversations. 

A husband and wife who became followers of Jesus last year in our community did so after several years of relationship and numerous gospel conversations. 

These days of social distancing provide obstacles to face-to-face witnessing, but also many opportunities. 

In just the last three weeks, I’ve had several gospel conversations with those in and around my church who needed counseling, support, and ministry. 

Simply put, we as pastors need to look to include the gospel in as many conversations as we can. 

HABIT #2: INVOLVE OTHERS IN YOUR MISSION CONSISTENTLY. 

In Acts 11:25-26, Barnabas sought out Saul (the Apostle Paul) and brought him to Antioch to help him teach the young church there. Barnabas realized the job in front of him was bigger than he could handle on his own. 

We need to be big enough to admit we’re not big enough on our own. For us to fulfill the mandate of making disciples, we can’t go at it alone. 

Whether we have a church staff or we’re the entire staff, we must engage in the regular habit of involving others in our ministries. 

None of us are irreplaceable, and none of us are permanent. 

By involving others in our mission and ministries, we can replicate the life of Jesus and the ministry of the church in the lives of others who’ll carry on making disciples even when we’re no longer around. 

Practically, this means sharing responsibilities and inviting people to do ministry alongside you. 

HABIT #3: EQUIP OTHERS TO SUCCEED YOU SIGNIFICANTLY. 

Jesus’ command in Matthew 28:19-20 is to make disciples. He expected His followers to lead others to follow Him. 

Jesus’ method of disciple-making wasn’t large events. It wasn’t come and see worship experiences. It wasn’t seminars and leadership conferences. It wasn’t even miracles. 

Jesus’ method was the training of the apostles who’d preach and teach the gospel and disciple others. 

Friends, we’re the product of Jesus’ method. Jesus spent only three years in personal ministry but has had an impact for 2,000 years through His disciples. 

The beauty of Jesus’ method is that it’s reproducible. There’s coming a day when you won’t be the pastor, staff member, or disciple-maker at your church. Have you prepared for someone to succeed you? 

Even if you don’t train your successor per se, when we equip and disciple others, we embrace Jesus’ method. 

If you know of ways pastors and churches are embracing the challenges of social distancing and continuing to make disciples, I’d love to hear about them.

Originally published at here Lifeway Facts and Trends.

Originally published as an op-ed here for the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.

Stay at home orders. Social distancing. MerleFest cancelled. Social gatherings banned. Schools and businesses closed. Church meetings cancelled.

The last few weeks have certainly been eventful. Our current experiences cause concern. Our anticipated experiences in the days, weeks and months ahead could cause fear and anxiety.

COVID-19 has arrived in Wilkes, but how many will be infected? How long will it take before the economy recovers? Will the economy recover? Will our lives ever go back to normal?

These questions permeate our thoughts. As a pastor, I feel it is my duty to have answers and bring hope. But let me offer a confession.

I’ve had plenty of moments in the last several weeks where I’ve felt a mixture of uncertainty, fear, and worry. I don’t offer my perspective from a place where I’ve conquered my anxieties but from a platform of hope and peace.

Solomon, Israel’s wisest king, wrote nearly 3,000 years ago, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad” (Proverbs 12:25). Solomon’s words could not be more prescient today.

Government bans, the panic-inducing news over COVID-19, and subsequent worries breed anxiety, often at a more exponential rate than the virus itself.

Fear and anxiety are enemies that weigh us down. When we are weighed down, we are more likely to live in fear, become depressed, or wallow in negativity. Like Solomon’s original readers, we need a good word. Let me offer three good words that might help make us glad.

Perspective. While these days are certainly unique, they are not universally unprecedented. Humanity has already overcome the bubonic plague outbreaks of the Middle Ages, the Spanish flu of 1918, world wars, and countless natural disasters. This pandemic will pass.

We need to evaluate our perspective. Instead of seeing our situation through the lens of all we are missing, we need to see it through the lens of all we are gaining.

Many of us have been too busy, too frazzled, and too distant from those closest to us. The next month (or longer) will afford us time to pause, rest, pray, and make the most of the days with our families. There may be a lot we will miss during this ban, but we will never forget the time we have with those closest to us.

Connection. People in my church tell me nearly every day how much they miss gathering together. God made us social beings who need each other.

Many of you are missing your normal social interactions. I am as well. But the lack of being in the same space need not keep us from connecting to one another.

Social media, text messaging, phone calls, FaceTime, Skype, emails, notes, and media like the Wilkes Journal-Patriot are all means by which we can connect with others. Make an extra phone call. Send another text message. Facetime a friend or family member. Find ways to connect with other people.

Our connections during isolated days will make our face to face connections that much more meaningful when these days are over.

Gospel. Solomon used the phrase “good word.” In the New Testament the good news is the gospel. The good news that the Bible offers is predicated on some bad news.

The bad news is that we live in a fallen, sinful world. This is one reason why viruses, pandemics, and natural disasters happen. But more importantly, the Bible teaches us that we are sinners. Sin is anything less than what God desires.

Our sin is the bad news, but the good news is that God sent Jesus to die for our sins to offer us forgiveness and eternal life. While our current situation is uncertain, our future does not have to be. The forgiveness offered through Jesus cleanses our sin, eases our anxiety, and offers us eternal life.

My hope and prayer through all of this uncertainty is that these good words: perspective, connection, gospel, will bring us gladness, now and forever.

Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

Recently, I preached a sermon addressing the subject of Lust and Pornography that so pervades our culture. I’ve heard lust described as seeking to fulfill a God-given desire in a godless way. No doubt in our sex-fueled society, the sin of lust is prevalent.

George Barna research provides details regarding the prevailing challenges of pornographyand sexting.

I’ve counseled couples where a spouse has been controlled by lust which has decimated the intimacy and honesty in their marriage. I’ve spoken with a wife whose husband has been viewing pornography for the nearly 30 years of their marriage. And I’ve experienced the conviction and sorrow at having to confess the lust in my own life. Lust is not an isolated issue. It is a pervasive poison that is never satiated. If left alone, lust leads to perversion, infidelity, brokenness and even abuse. But there is hope. You do not have to remain bound or controlled. I’m not naïve enough to think that a single blogpost will solve your sins (or my own). But we all have to start somewhere. Following are three antidotes to the poison of lust in our lives.

Receive and apply the gospel. You cannot tame lust. You cannot overcome it by being better. Covenants, promises, deals and commitments will not tame lust. You will not overcome it by “doing better, being better, getting stronger, etc.” Lust is an internal, spiritual enemy that is stronger than you are. You need Someonestronger than lust. You need Jesus and his gospel. You need to know that Jesus came, suffered, bled and died for your pornography addiction, your masturbation, your innuendos, your crossing the line with a girlfriend or boyfriend, your fantasies, your graphic romance novels, your incessant desires for sexual thoughts, etc. Jesus died on the cross for all of these sins, all of your sins and all of my sins. To receive and apply the gospel, we must confess (agree with God about our sin) and repent (turn from our sin to Christ).

“Sexual sin is predatory. It won’t be ‘healed’ by redeeming the context or the genders. Sexual sin must simply be killed. What is left of your sexuality after this annihilation is up to God. But healing, to the sexual sinner, is death; nothing more and nothing less. …I think too many young Christian fornicators plan that marriage will redeem their sin. Too many young Christian masturbators plan that marriage will redeem their patterns. Too many young Christian internet pornographers thing that having legitimate sex will take away the desire to have illicit sex. They’re wrong. And the marriages that result from this line of thinking are dangerous places. I know, I told my audience, why over 50% of Christian marriages end in divorce: because Christians act as though marriage redeems sin. Marriage does not redeem sin. Only Jesus himself can do that.” – Rosaria Butterfield, whose book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert,

The fact of the matter is that God’s expectation for your sexuality and mine is unalterably clear—He expects holiness. We need the gospel. The gospel teaches us that while we cannot be holy, God sent Jesus to be holy on our behalf. Jesus succeeded where we failed. Jesus was pure where we were impure. Jesus was clean where we were soiled. Jesus was impeccable where we were ruined. Jesus, in his glorious, pure and holy state became sin for you and for me. He paid for lust, pornography, adultery, fornication, and all other sexual sins on the cross. And the gospel teaches that when we repent and turn to Jesus in belief, he forgives our sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Not only did we need the gospel, but we still need the gospel. The gospel is the primary means for addressing lust in our lives. The gospel teaches us to humbly ask forgiveness. It teaches us to believe in Jesus Christ to forgive, redeem and free. It teaches us that we must be willing to give all of ourselves over to Christ.

Pursue accountability. The sin of lust dominates society today because it stays hidden. Satan will tell you that you have to keep it hidden, you can deal with it on your own, you can face it privately, you can keep it in the dark. Trust me, things hidden in the dark will one day come into the light. You cannot keep it hidden forever. Your spouse will find out. Your parent will find out. The only way to address the sins in the dark is to expose them to the light. It is a lie of the enemy that you are by yourself in this fight. You have help. You have people who love you and support you and care about you. You need to bring your sin into the light, find an accountability partner, confess, repent and shine a light on the sin. Remember this, you cannot bring into the light what God does not already know. Do you realize that if you confess your darkness, Jesus already knew it—already died for it—already provided your forgiveness? Don’t be afraid of admitting your sin. Pursue accountability. Find help.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” James 5:16

Do Whatever it takes! Identify triggers and replace habits. To overcome your lust, it is wise to put action steps into place. You need the gospel and you need accountability, but you also need to change habits.

  • What are the triggers that incite lust in your life?
  • Is it late nights surfing the web?
  • Is it streaming mature content on your television?
  • Is it going to bed at a different time and in a different place than your spouse?
  • Is it reading erotic literature on your e-reader?
  • Is it fantasizing about that work colleague or old flame who appears to be everything you wish your spouse was?

Identify your lust triggers. By the help of the Holy Spirit, change your habits. Maybe you will need to let your spouse control the code to the internet at your home. Maybe you need to cancel television altogether. Maybe you need to install covenant eyeson your tablets, computers and smartphones. 

“Keep as far as you can from those temptations that feed and strengthen the sins which you would overcome. Lay siege to your sins, and starve them out, by keeping away the food and fuel which is their maintenance and life.” – Richard Baxter

Parents, you are responsible to your children for the opportunities you give them or things you protect them from. If you have a child/teenager with access to a computer, tablet or phone, take time to create accountability measures for them. Many in-home routers have built-in security and password measures. These can be used to shut off the wi-fi at a certain time or after a certain time. You should know what your children are doing/looking at on their phones. While they’re in your home, their purity is your responsibility. Have candid, age appropriate conversations with your children about sex and lust. Above all pray for them.

 

The history of racism and prejudice in our country is a stain upon the freedoms espoused in the Declaration of Independence “all men are created equal” and the Bill of Rights. In truth one of the great ironies is that a nation founded upon freedom would continue to enslave a people based on skin color. Leaving slavery as an institution was a failure of our nation’s founders. Their inability or the inability of the context to move them to act would result in a great Civil War where hundreds of thousands of Americans would die over the controversial issues of state’s rights and slavery. President Abraham Lincoln rightly understood that slavery was the central instigating factor of the Civil War even if it was not the stated cause. With his emancipation proclamation, Americans can be proud that the first vestiges of slavery were slashed out of our country. But it would be a century more before equality was granted. Rampant prejudice and racism permeated our nation. Not until the Civil Right’s movement of the 1960s did justice and equality come to the South and to the nation. Even today, more than 50 years after the Civil Right’s movement, we still deal with prejudice and incipient racism. It is not something that God tolerates and certainly not present in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a global gospel. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said that the gospel would go to the ends of the world. In Acts 10, the church experienced the first Gentile convert–Cornelius. God is not a respecter of persons. Heritage and color of skin are not factors in God’s great act of love upon the cross. Jesus came to die for the entire human race—all colors, peoples, languages, and nationalities. In Acts 10, we see the incipient racism of the Jewish people blown up by the glorious grace of a sovereign God through the universal message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I trust that we will not only witness the love of God in Acts 10, but the expected response to the gospel that we as its bearers must share to ALL who bear the image of God.

Peter’s vision in Acts 10 related to unclean foods. The Jewish people had received dietary laws from God as a means of spiritual distinction. But here in Acts, Peter saw unclean foods and was told to eat. Following Peter’s vision, Cornelius’ messengers reached Peter and brought Peter to preach to Cornelius, his family, and his friends. These first Gentiles would believe the gospel and receive the Holy Spirit. But what did the food have to do with the Gentiles receiving the gospel? Actually, the vision of food was very important.

John MacArthur observed:

Strict Jews would have nothing to do with Gentiles. They would not be guests in Gentile homes (cf. v. 28) or invite Gentiles to their homes. Dirt from a Gentile country was considered defiled, and a Jew would shake it off his sandals before entering Israel (from which practice the expression ‘shake the dust off’ [Matt. 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5; Acts 13:51] came). Jews would not eat food prepared by Gentile hands. Cooking utensils purchased from a Gentile had to be purified before being used. In short, Gentiles were considered unclean and their presence defiling (MacArthur, Acts, 291).

J.B. Polhill argued:

The Jewish food laws presented a real problem for Jewish Christians in the outreach to the Gentiles. One simply could not dine in a Gentile’s home without inevitably transgressing those laws either by the consumption of unclean flesh or of flesh that had not been prepared in a kosher, i.e., ritually proper, fashion (cf. Acts 15:20). Jesus dealt with the problem of clean and unclean, insisting that external things like foods did not defile a person but the internals of heart and speech and thought render one truly unclean (Mark 7:14–23). In Mark 7:19b Mark added the parenthetical comment that Jesus’ saying ultimately declared all foods clean. This was precisely the point of Peter’s vision: God declared the unclean to be clean. In Mark 7 Jesus’ teaching on clean/unclean was immediately followed by his ministry to a Gentile woman (7:24–30), just as Peter’s vision regarding clean and unclean foods was followed by his witness to a Gentile. It is simply not possible to fully accept someone with whom you are unwilling to share in the intimacy of table fellowship (emphasis mine) (Polhill, Acts, 255-6).

In essence, Jewish believers could not be distinct in their dietary laws and share the gospel or experience fellowship with Gentiles at the same time. So God sent Peter a vision declaring foods clean as he sent Peter to the Gentiles. Acts 10 boldly asserts that the gospel is intended for all who bear the image of God–for the world. Acts 10 also demands that we repudiate racism and prejudice. So let us, God’s image bearers and gospel ambassadors go to the nations with the gospel that is universal.

Francis Schaeffer recognized forty years ago that philosophy and theology follow art. Today, art comes in all forms. Rap songs that glorify sex and violence. Plays that depict the President being assasinated. A comedian holding a mock severed head of the President. Media and movies that stylize filth, debauchery, violence and murder. These are forms of “art” we are told. It is argued that “artists” and “comedians” are supposed to push boundaries, to cross lines, and to challenge comfort zones.

However it is frightening to consider these pieces of “art” might just be real. After all Picasso opined, “When we invented cubism, we had no intention of inventing cubism, but simply of expressing what was in us.”
Are these modern expressions of “art” mere self-expressions? If so, we are in deep trouble. Marcel Duchamps, another 20th century postmodern artist claimed, “It is the viewer that completes the artwork.” Could it be? Could it be that the politcal violence witnessed today with the shooting of a congressman, aides and police officers is the extension into real life of art?

Our only solution is real change. I don’t mean coming together for short moments of unity. But rather a geniune recognition that the deep seated problems with culture, art, politics, and individual citizens are all the same. We were created in God’s image, but have chosen to reject his right to rule us. We chose self, sin, violence, evil. We do not need togetherness. We do not need diligence. In our sinful condition that will ultimately lead to more diligent, unified sinfulness. We need the transforming power of Jesus Christ and his gospel to change us-to change our culture. It is high time we as Christians begin living, expressing, declaring in art, work, politics, philosophy and everyday life what is in us–Jesus Christ.