One New Man
The Gospel’s Importance in our Divided World
I grew up in Kenosha, the self-designated “gateway to Wisconsin.”
How so? It’s the first city you encounter when driving north out of Illinois along Lake Michigan. Named by an early group of native Americans meaning “place of the Pike.” It became one of the major Lake Michigan harbor ports receiving ships from all over the world, arriving down the St. Lawrence seaway.
In the early 1960s, my father and mother decided to build a small home in a new subdivision on Kenosha’s north side. When 1933 19th Avenue was finished, we moved the 7 miles south from Racine, where I had been born. I remember helping dad and my cousin Johnny lay sod in a downpour. Across the street, a new elementary school named for Cordelia Harvey (1824-1895), a Wisconsin Civil War nurse. She relentlessly advocated for the care of Wisconsin’s wounded Union soldiers, and thereafter worked for the care of the children whose fathers died in the war.
Life was good in the host city of American Motors, Macwhyte Wire Rope, and Snap-On Tools. A new house, a big school yard with ample space for all-day-long neighborhood baseball and football. Parents who worked hard, loved Jesus, cared well for 3 growing kids.
On a new 3-speed bike I daily might cover most of the streets within a 3-4 mile radius. Everything was safe. Rode the bus cross-town to Little League practice, and back. Sat the bench on the Washington Junior High School basketball team, made it on the floor for Mary D. Bradford High.
It was the blocks around the old Bradford High building that I saw burning just over a week ago. Police shooting James Blake 7 times. What? Looters bat-bashing businesses, gasoline setting car lots aflame. You’ve got to be kidding. A young man bouncing up off pavement to shoot, even kill, protesters. How did Kenosha so suddenly turn into a lawless jungle?
THE WORK OF THE THIEF
No one said it more succinctly than Jesus Christ. “The thief does not come except in order to steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10a). Jesus’ metaphor is that of a flock nestled within a sheepfold. Should a wild animal access it, it enters for but one reason. To take life. To destroy life. To steal what doesn’t belong to it, to drag it off and devour it unto lifelessness.
We do not do well to minimize what is at stake in our world today. Any time, any place where destruction and violence erupt, Satan himself fans it all into flame. He is THE destructive, life-extinguishing thief. God’s enemy has no interest in bringing life, protecting life, or nurturing life. The more he can destroy, the greater division he can cause, he will. Far too often, humanity simply marches to the orders of the “Prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).
THE GREAT LOVE PROJECT OF THE FATHER
What has God done about our broken, divided world? And what should Christians be talking about with others as a matter of first discourse?
I find myself NOT talking ENOUGH about the gospel, the good news about what God has done, the solution He offers, to the broken angriness, the dividing rancor of our world.
How about you? What are you talking about with your friends, your colleagues, your students, your professors, your neighbors?
Do we understand what is going on in our world in light of the gospel? Do we get why this world—after countless centuries—has still not solved the issues hate and bitterness and polarization, the endless cycles of sin? And, are we—God’s redeemed ambassadors—prepared to make a compelling case for considering God’s love expressed in the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ?
Through upcoming Sundays in September, Christ Community Church will worship the Lord around the life-changing revelation found in Ephesians 2. The Father has a “one-ness” project full of love and life and reconciliation. He is creating One New Man (Ephesians 2:15) in Christ, a “body” of raised and reconciled people experience the joys of forgiveness, love, mercy, grace, and mutual acceptance.
Will you join in this timely, critical rehearsal of the best news we can offer? To a world in the flames of discord and division? How can we not do this? Let’s afresh understand the gospel, and why it is the hope of the world. Join us in person, or online, this September.
—Pastor David Staff