Pastor David Ellis of Astoria Community Church (Astoria, NY) asks what does it mean to be made in the image of God? Is it our intelligence? Is it how we look? Is it our creativity? Ellis postulates that it is none of those as there are some people that are less intelligent and less creative as others, but are still fully made in the image of God. Ellis, instead, says that our capacity to have a relationship with God is what sets us apart and that God created us for three things - dignity, equality, and responsibility.
Any kingdom of the world is incompatible with the kingdom of God. When Christians fuse the sword and the cross we just become another version of a kingdom of the world. In an ardent sermon that resulted in losing over 1000 members of his congregation in 2004 Woodland Hills (St. Paul, MN) pastor Greg Boyd says the defining maker of the kingdom of God is that it looks like Jesus. Therefore the distinct marker of a disciple of the kingdom of God is Calvary-like love (Eph. 5:1-2, Lk 14:27).
Preaching from Mark 11 and using Israel as an example of a nation that could not separate God and country pastor Phil Jeansonne humbly asks, is it possible nationalistic pride is in conflict with Jesus' values? Is nationalism so ingrained and culturally acceptable we are unaware of our divided devotion? Is the way we define freedom contaminated by the kingdom of the world?
Pastor Tyler Alverson of Seven Oaks Church (Mayfield, KY), preaching from Philippians 3:20-21, invites us to reconsider Christian nationalism. A term that he defines as when self-identifying Christians put the love of God and the love of country on equal ground with no distinction between the two.
Preaching from Mark 1 and centering on the theme of repentance Paul Sannerud of Blair Lutheran Church (Blair, WI) says that the ideology of Christian nationalism perverts the gospel in three key ways. First, the nation is seen as the "savior" of history. Second, it embraces power and greatness to save the world. And third, it believes Christians are persecuted when we can't impose our will on other people.
In a moving sermon pastor James Atwood draws a straight line between how many Christians viewed slavery before the Civil War to how many Christians currently view and react to gun violence. He says many Christians say gun violence has nothing to do with ethics, it has nothing to do with morality, and nothing to do with spirituality. Gun violence is a political issue and we should just stay out of it. Atwood forcefully calls out those statements as a failure to love our neighbors and treat everyone in the Image of God. Additionally, he points out that in Mark 12 Jesus points out that to love God is to love our neighbor. We cannot love God without loving our neighbor. Atwood ends the sermon with six spiritual, moral, and ethical reasons why Christians need to speak up and act to stop gun violence.
In his characteristic passionate, engaging style, activist Shane Claiborne frames gun violence as a pro-life issue for Christians.
Framing the conversation within the Sermon on the Mount and Psalm 22 pastor Mark Davis of St. Mark Presbyterian (Newport Beach, CA) says that first we must recognize that all violence is a sin and acknowledge the oftentimes persistent role of fear within the human experience. Second, as Christians, we must recognize that we have a civic duty and a spiritual duty. At times those two things are in agreement while at other times they are not. Last, within the realm of the gun/gun violence conversation, our starting point should be the cross, not the Second Amendment.
Oak Cliff Bible (Dallas, TX) pastor Tony Evans looks at three aspects of critical race theory (CRT): the original definition of the theory, the crisis and confusion over it today, and how Christians should respond to CRT.
Evans is a master at taking the complicated, layered, and fluid history of CRT and breaking it down into easily understandable terms. This is the best resource on CRT from a Christian perspective thus far.
A thought provoking and challenging three-part series that shows, but never in a heavy-handed way, how important justice is to God.
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