For he (Christ) himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. Ephesians 2:14-16
My good friends Efrem Smith and Bob Balian pastor at a large and growing multi-ethnic Covenant church in downtown Sacramento called Bayside Midtown. Their church literally found itself in the middle of a city-wide racial tension after the shooting of Stephon Clark in Sacramento on March 2018, a tension that garnered national attention.
You see, the families of Stephon Clark, the Police Chief of Sacramento, and many police officers attend Bayside Midtown. Efrem and Bob are pastoring in a city torn by race, protests, and division, and in a church where attendees on both sides of the incident are present. How do they shepherd and who are they to be in this season they find themselves in, dripping with racial tension? What does Love mandate? What does Love do in a pluralistic, multicultural context where pain is littered all over?
Efrem and Bob are not running away from the pain. Quite the contrary, they are running right into the middle of it with a holy expectation and a Gospel passion!
Efrem said the following this week: “When we realize who God is, we know what we can expect of him and we know what we must do. We know from the Bible and from the life of Jesus that God is a healer, God is a reconciler, God is a God of justice, God is a God of new life, God is a God of grace, God is a God who tears down walls that divide. So my expectation for my church and for our city is for God to save, to unite. I am going to love and minister to Stephon’s family as well as the Police Chief, his officers, and their families, regardless of what the media is saying because I’m expecting a supernatural healing and unity to come from this. I’m stepping into protests with God’s promises.”
PCC, that is what Love Does! The Good News of the Gospel is not good only on our deathbed because it alters our eternal destiny (although that is GREAT news!) The Good News of the Gospel is transforming us here and now and then inserts us into our culture to change the DNA of communities by modeling an alter community where all people are one! That is what Love Does!
This weekend we are going to press in further into this theme with our Love Does series looking at how Love Reconciles Races. Christian Huang, the Executive Director of Mobilize Love from San Francisco will be speaking this weekend at all four gatherings. I not only respect Christian but have been shaped by his life and teaching. He gives me hope that the Church is in good hands for future generations with young leaders like him. This would be an excellent weekend to bring a friend with you to church.
I love being your pastor!