The meek win?

During his campaign for president 30 years ago the first President George Bush spoke of a longing for a kinder and gentler nation. He also described those who volunteer and serve others as being like a thousand points of light, with service shining bright in the midst of a dark world.

The call for a kinder, gentler nation was mocked by many 30 years ago. It still sounds strange today in our society that is so often mean, cruel and violent and going the opposite direction of kinder and gentler. Kindness and gentleness is too often looked down upon instead of being valued and encouraged.

The vision of a multitude of humble servants shining like a thousand points of light was a confusing concept to some 30 years ago. Recently it was described again as not making sense. Kindness, gentleness and humble, sacrificial service doesn’t make sense to the world. The world understands putting yourself first; looking out for your own interests and not the interests of others. The world understands promoting yourself and boasting about what you have done. The world understands being assertive and going for what you want, even if it means knocking others down to get it.

Gentleness and kindness seem strange to the world. Meekness appears to be weakness. It is that way now and was also that way in Jesus’ day. At first His own brothers didn’t understand His humble service and why He would do great deeds but not want to draw attention to Himself. “Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world” (John 7:4). Letting people know how great you are – that makes sense to the world. But that’s not Jesus’ way.

Pilate couldn’t understand Jesus failing to fight back and defend Himself when He was attacked. “‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’ But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed” (Mark 15:4-5). The world’s way is stand up for yourself and return insult for insult. If somebody posts something that appears to be an attack and a slam, you better slam them back. That’s what the world thinks. Jesus’ way of silence and meekly letting them nail Him to the cross amazes and confuses people. But it brings salvation and hope to those who trust Him.

First Timothy 6:11 says to “pursue … gentleness.” Are you pursuing gentleness or running from it? We can pursue gentleness because we are chosen and loved by God. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).The world doesn’t think so, but the meek are the ones who are going to come out ahead. “I will remove from you your arrogant boasters. … But I will leave within you the meek and humble” (Zephaniah 3:11-12). Arrogant boasters can intimidate at times and deceive people into thinking they are far more impressive and important than they really are. The arrogant boasters of this world are not to be feared for they have no future. It is the meek and the humble who trust in the Lord who will win in the end. They are the ones who can look forward to a victorious and glorious future.

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God doesn’t have a favorite color

Little kids ask, “What is your favorite color?” Some like blue, some purple, some pink. We have favorite colors when it comes to shirts we wear or cars we drive, but God doesn’t have a favorite color when it comes to people’s skin. He makes some dark, some light and some in between. He likes all the colors equally.IMG_0196

I met these two beautiful little girls in South Africa. One has a darker skin color than the other, but they are both dearly loved by God; both a special creation of His with immeasurable value. Both like to laugh and play and eat candy. It was fun to watch them play together. Their different skin colors didn’t seem to matter to them.

South Africa, like the United States, has some very sad chapters in its history regarding race relations. The evil of slavery is part of the history of the United States. South Africa suffered under the wickedness of apartheid for nearly 50 years. Under apartheid, the whites, even though they were only 15 percent of the population, controlled the government and owned the land, often by taking it away from blacks. The ruling whites passed laws forbidding the races from things such as living in the same neighborhoods, sitting together at public events and going to the same schools. It was a miraculous and gracious work of God that apartheid ended in the 1990s without massive bloodshed and the exacting of revenge.

In the United States it was only after the terrible bloodshed of the Civil War that slavery became illegal throughout the land. Even after the war the wickedness of segregation continued as many tried to prevent blacks from doing things such as eating in the same restaurants as whites, drinking from the same water fountains, and playing on the same baseball fields.

Some claim blacks didn’t have it that bad during slavery, segregation and apartheid. Blacks who had loved ones lynched, who suffered oppression and were treated as less than human don’t say that. The claim that it wasn’t that bad possibly comes from an unwillingness to admit our ancestors did some wicked things.

Conflict between different ethnic groups was a major challenge faced by the New Testament church. Most people thought it was impossible for Jews and non-Jews to ever get along and live in true peace. But the Bible declares that peace is possible when there is faith in Jesus. “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility … His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility” (Ephesians 2:14-16).

Along with the two sweet little girls, in South Africa I also met some families where white parents have adopted black children and blacks and whites are living together in one house as one family. It was an encouraging picture of what the family of God should look like and how Jesus can make peace. God’s family should be full of a diversity of colors because God loves all colors and doesn’t have a favorite. We give thanks for the beautiful peace that is possible in Jesus.