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Take the RISK: The ministry of reconciliation

In all of the research I’ve done in the past month, all of the interviews and livestreams and conversations and lectures I’ve ingested on the topic of racism, injustice, and oppression, nothing comes close to the message that Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church delivered on “Racial Reconciliation.”

His points are primarily targeted at people who already know Jesus, outlining our responsibility as his followers, people who are supposed to live and love like him, but the wisdom is universal: We must connect with one another in order to love one another; finding common ground is how racial healing begins.

So, rather than spinning my own thoughts on the topic, I invite you to watch/listen for yourself. You can even read along with my notes below on the heart of the message, which runs from 17:25 to 1:24:55 in the video below.

As you sit with these truths and challenges, take heart. God is with you. Jesus is for you. The Holy Spirit is moving. Through Him, you can do all things, including reaching beyond your comfort zone to bridge the gap between you and other image-bearers of God.

You are tasked with the ministry of reconciliation. Are you ready to begin?

Message Notes

  • Even when events aren’t racially motivated, it starts to creep into the conversation, and it starts to dust it all up until it’s filling the air.
  • It was never God’s intention for us to see color before character and to compare among ourselves.
  • “An assumption is one of the deadliest things that you can do because it usually leaves you looking like those first three letters.”
  • “We probably didn’t have that much in common until I made us have something in common.”
  • We have to be able to live biblically in everything.
  • Many people are missing out on one of the greatest experiences and exchanges of their life by having different ethnicities as part of their life.
  • Rev 7:9 “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
  • Racial reconciliation is promised to us by God, but we don’t have to wait for Heaven to see it happen here where we are. We can make it happen now.
  • Matt 6:10 “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
  • Are you living your life to see the picture of Heaven on Earth?
  • We all have to deal with unspoken things, things we’ve been told/taught by our family and friends, things in our background that make us act differently with different people.
  • God is asking us to not conform to the patterns of this world (Rom 12:2). That means there are some things that are programmed in us that are not from God, things we’re born into.
  • Jesus gives us a new race (Gal 3:28) so that people will know us by our love.
  • “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He didn’t specify what kind of neighbor. Whoever God sent you around, that’s who you’re supposed to love.
  • The saddest part of the narrative of racism is that the worst of it is happening in the Church.
  • We should be able to walk into any church anywhere and be comfortable and accepted.
  • White people aren’t the only ones who are racist. This isn’t a White and Black message; this is a humanity message.
  • When you come to Christ, he gives you the title of new creation. The old life is gone. Your old response is no longer acceptable.
  • 2 Cor 5:17-18 “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.”
  • If your family’s racist, when you believed, you became a new person.
  • How can you reconcile someone to God if you won’t even communicate with them?
  • We’re given the ministry of reconciliation.
  • 2 Cor 5:19-20 “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s [skins, I mean] sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!'”
  • At salvation you get a fanny pack filled with joy, peace, the ability to turn the other cheek—the question is do you open it up and use it. And in there is the ministry of reconciliation.
  • How can you reconcile if you don’t have any friends who are a different color than you?
  • When’s the last time that you stepped across the line and risked being uncomfortable and even embarrassed?
  • It’s not about a Black friend or White friend. Do you think about someone’s race or what side of town they live on before you think about their needs?
  • Are you thinking about race or about grace?
  • No one has been given the responsibility to reconcile except the church.
  • By meeting the woman at the well in John 4, Jesus reverses 800 years of racial division in less than 24 hours.
  • The division between Jews and Samaritans was similar to the division between Whites and Blacks today. It was so extreme that when Jews had to go to northern areas, they went way out of their way to go around Samaria to avoid them.
  • If we’re going to be reunited on earth instead of waiting for Heaven, we have to confront the racial issue.
  • For racial reconciliation to happen, it has to start with the organism not the organization.
  • Jesus knew that for the situation to change, it wasn’t going to start with the church, it was going to start with him. He sent the disciples away because they weren’t able to handle what was about to happen.
  • The well was important to both the Jews and Samaritans; Jesus met the woman on common ground, a place where they already agreed.
  • We can’t start racial reconciliation at the flash point. It has to start at a place where you already agree.
  • The woman is surprised Jesus speaks to her because she’s using her past racial experience to predict the future.
  • Note that Jesus never says anything about being Jewish; the woman implies it from his appearance. He’s been racially profiled.
  • Jesus did not have to change who he was to reach someone else. Stop trying to act like another group or culture. You have to respond first biblically, then according to your own character.
  • Most people identify as a Black /White/Hispanic Christian. “Christian” is in the noun place in this phrase, and your ethnicity is in the adjective position. The adjective describes the noun. We can’t put “Christian” as the noun; it needs to be the adjective, so that no matter what we do and however we do it and whatever we become, “Christian” describes what it is. “I’m a Christian Black person;” “I’m a Christian business owner;” “I’m a Christian father.” Because otherwise, we always have to conform our Christianity to circumstances instead of the other way around.
  • Be Christian first. That means disassociating with old people and ways. The old things are passed away; you get a new identity.
  • If we’re going to live biblically and see racial reconciliation, comfortably uncomfortable is the new normal.
  • God is faithful to continue to provide for his children, even in the discussion of race. We have to be comfortable not knowing things and going into uncomfortable experiences, trusting that God will be there when we step out.
  • Duck hunting story [55:30-1:01:35]
  • Experiences like this bridge gaps between people, creating opportunities to connect, to find common ground to have the conversations needed for racial reconciliation.
  • Open these conversations with things about them, not yourself. Cross the line for one interaction with someone of a different ethnicity. It can change the entire thought process of someone else.
  • Jesus was willing to put his Jewish lips on her Samaritan cup. A shared experience.
  • “You don’t gotta agree with everything, but you gotta be there to hug them.”
  • Until we’re willing to identify with each other, there will be no racial reconciliation.
  • Once we have relationship, we can go deeper. You can’t engage someone’s problem until you engage their humanity.
  • Engaging with her life gave Jesus access to her deep spiritual issues.
  • “When you live like you care, they’ll let you into their problems.”
  • After Jesus connects with her heart, she asks him about spiritual differences between their races. Once you have a real friendship based on common ground and engaging and closeness, you can start asking questions about race and start to understand.
  • Racial reconciliation must be spirit and truth, biblically based, not based on things our families have always done and believed.
  • Generational bents toward racism are handed down to us, but we can decide to be retaught, to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
  • The Church tries to get out of their responsibility by looking forward to everything being reconciled in Heaven. But Jesus says the time is here now.
  • Jesus is living on the inside of us and instructed us to do greater works than he did. And he undid 800 years of racial division in one conversation. So what will we do? What can we do?
  • The disciples weren’t mad about Jesus talking to a woman—he’d already talked to a bunch of women; it was her ethnicity. But none of them had the nerve to say anything to him about it.
  • These guys were still racist even when they followed Jesus every day and did miracles of their own. They weren’t healed and needed to grow, but he still had good things for them to do.
  • “It’s not a perfection thing, it’s a progression thing.”
  • The disciples went into the town and came out with no people, having spread no gospel; this woman had one positive interaction with a person of a different race and brought the whole town out to be saved.
  • Jesus doesn’t want us to wait to do this work. The field is ripe right now for one of God’s children to raise up and cross the line of uncomfortability and invite someone into their life to enact the ministry of reconciliation.
  • “If you don’t know what to say, open your mouth and God will fill it. If you’re disrespectful, you’ll learn. Everything you put as a blockage, God will change for you.”
  • You can’t love anyone—much less your neighbor—without having a relationship with them. Love requires relationship.
  • 1 John 4:20 (NLT) “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?”
  • The scene at the well didn’t turn into a race riot when the town full of Samaritans came to meet Jesus because the disciples were willing to be comfortably uncomfortable and let their hearts full of prejudice be changed and to engage people who didn’t look like them.
  • When the townsfolk chose to interact with someone outside their race, it changed their lives.
  • Take the risk to be the only person to step out, to invite someone to your family reunion, to go to a non-White church. If the organism doesn’t grow, nothing changes.
  • If you believe in Jesus, you’ve been tasked with this ministry.
  • Miracle Whip contains two major ingredients that don’t go together, oil and water. No matter how you mix it, it won’t turn into one thing, until it comes into contact with an emulsifier. In Miracle Whip, it’s an egg. One part of the egg grabs the oil, the other part grabs the water. And when it mixes together, it becomes one. Jesus is the emulsifier of every race. We will no longer be apart. It’ll be a miracle. The picture of Heaven on Earth.
  • Be the organism that is willing to be comfortably uncomfortable, willing to step into relationship and take the risk. If it starts with you, it will impact so many others.

Next Steps

How to take the next steps to speak up about injustice - take the RISK - Pastor Michael Todd from Transformation Church

In the final portion of this video, recorded this year, Pastor Mike gives four practical steps to approaching your own ministry of racial reconciliation.

Relationship: Aim at right relationships with people who don’t look like you, don’t have the same background, and don’t believe the way we believe. It’s in relationship that we find out how similar we are, and you can’t have relationship with someone you’re not engaged with. Your family or friends might disagree, but it’s not about getting their approval but approval from God, whom you represent on Earth. Ask the Holy Spirit who He wants you to connect with in a deep way, then reach out.

Intentional: Racial reconciliation isn’t going to happen by accident. Find things to help you understand what people are going through from every side. Start to aim and align yourself to pray for people not like you. Find people’s names, not just a nebulous group. Get the heart of God for someone, someone’s family, your neighbors, people at your gym. It might be hard because of what you feel, but rely on the Holy Spirit. Where we are weak, He’s strong.

Start at Home/Speak Up: Everything evil is bred at home. Use your influence, no matter how great or small, say something. If you see something in public or behind the scenes, you need to speak up because there are people who can’t speak for themselves. Jesus teaches us to speak for those with no voice. Don’t say just anything that comes to mind. Go to prayer for what you need to say. Say what brings life and changes policy and moves things beyond where they are right now.

Knowledge: People perish from a lack of knowledge. There’s so much that we don’t know. The first place to go is the Word. Get off of social media and away from the news; stop consuming information and allow God to consume you with holy fire. Get on your knees—it’s the most powerful posture you can ever be in. Beg for forgiveness, wisdom, clarity; cry out your pain, fear, and sadness; ask to be changed and see the world changed. This is how you fight this battle. Whenever you see someone kneeling, remember that this is supposed to be our posture as Christians. And as we get up from kneeling, we will have solutions, ideas, and wisdom from Heaven.

Taking this kind of risk will be embarrassing, uncomfortable, and awkward. Do it anyway. Cross the line to be bold, to share what you’re learning and how you’re changing, to say “I don’t get it, but I’m here.” We need to sit in this together, stand with each other, pray for each other, and hold each other up.

Make the decision to live a risky life for God. To see His will on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Note: Everything after the video is my summarized notes on the message. Most of it is paraphrased, but it all belongs to Pastor Mike Todd. If you use any material posted here for your own posts, images, etc, please credit him accurately.

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