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Should You Choose a Church Based Upon Your Race?

Should you choose a church based upon your race?

The Apostle Peter, writing to a racially diverse group of people from different regions, cultures, ancestries, said of them, “But you are a chosen race…” (1 Peter 2:9). Why was Peter calling people of many races “a” race?

Race, or ethnicity, has to do with common ancestry. For instance, the Jewish leaders relied heavily on their ancestry lineage to Abraham. They believed the genetic link to Abraham made them right with God. However, Jesus infuriated the Pharisees by letting them know that, even though Abraham was their genetic father, Satan was their spiritual father.

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did,but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.You are doing the works your father did.”They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. (John 8:39-44)

These particular Jews were related to Abraham by blood, but not by belief. As the New Testament progresses, we see a new race of people becoming increasingly revealed that transcends earthly ancestry and traditional views of race. The new race is created by God Himself. And it is a race that is not made up of one particular skin tone. In fact, this new race of people cannot be determined by outward appearance. It is a race of people who look incredibly diverse, yet have all been born-again into thesame family of God.

In the book of Acts, we see that salvation come first to thousands of Jews (a people racially connected to Abraham)1 . Later, the same gospel that saved the Jews on Pentecost was proclaimed to the Samaritans (a racially mixed group of people, part Jew and part other)2 .If this wasn’t shocking enough, Peter was commanded to go and preach the gospel to even the Gentiles (a people with absolutely no ancestral affiliation to Abraham)3 . As Peter was preaching the gospel to them, a whole household of Gentiles is saved. This was so shocking to the Jewish leadership that Peter was called back to Jerusalem to give an account for what he had done. After Peter’s eyewitness account, the Christian Jewish leaders finally realized that salvation through Christ was for people of all races. “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life’” (Acts 11:18).

It took years to convince the Jews, and even the Apostles, that all races were saved in exactly the same way and that unity in Christ was far more important than unity in a race. As Christians, they now had ancestry that superseded any other. God was their Father, Christ their Savior, and the Holy Spirit indwelt all of them. Racial reconciliation was more and more realized as the Christians understood mankind’s universal need to be reconciled to God by Jesus Christ.

The new race of people was utterly mixed from the human perspective: Jew, Ethiopian, Samaritan, Gentile, Roman, Asian, and etc.…  All different shades of skin, but one shade of soul; forgiven by the same sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. These believers had different blood, but the same belief in Jesus Christ. They had different earthly fathers, but one Heavenly Father.

By the time Peter writes 1 Peter, we see that he has fully realized that the body of Christ is a beautiful gathering of people from all different ancestries into one new race in Jesus Christ.

So, should you choose a church based upon your race?

Of course not! To do so is a radical slip backward in our understanding of the work of God in redemption to create a new race. To emphasize our skin tones or genetic differences is to return to the racial discrimination that Jesus abolished. Such ethnic emphasis divides and disregards the unity that we all have in Jesus Christ.

Remember, the Apostle Peter was writing to a racially diverse group of people, yet he did not emphasize their differences at all. Instead, the first two chapters were spent emphasizing their sameness, same: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, mercy, grace, regeneration, inheritance, etc.

So, as you look for a local gathering of believers to be a part of, don’t look for a group that represents your skin tone the best, look for a group of people that reflect God’s glory the best.
 
~ Trey Talley

References

1. Acts 2:22, 41

2. Acts 8:4-12

3. Acts 13:34-48



Hypocrisy was a way to describe a person in the theater who wore a mask to conceal their real identity. Can Christians be hypocritical as well?

Can a Christian Be a Hypocrite?

Hypocrisy was a way to describe a person in the theater who wore a mask to conceal their real identity. Can Christians be hypocritical as well?

Can a Christian Be a Hypocrite?

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1).

Peter had just told these Christians to love one another earnestly as they are now all born into the family of God. But even in a family that is supposed to be loving, there are enemies of love that must be fought against. Even in a local gathering of believers, like the church, the community can be negatively impacted by individuals who are not putting away their sinfulness. 

Peter listed several individual sins that can affect a person’s ability to love one another as they should. These behaviors decrease love for one another rather than increasing it.

For now, we are going to just focus on “hypocrisy.” Hypocrisy was a way to describe a person in the theater who wore a mask to conceal their real identity. It had to do with a person pretending to be something that he or she was not. Jesus spoke much about hypocrisy. The Pharisees were notorious for pretending to be holy yet they were inwardly wicked to the core. One such example is this passage in Matthew:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:25-28)

These scribes and Pharisees were only interested in looking good on the outside. Their purpose was to pretend to be holy for their audience. However, Jesus could see straight to their soul. He knew every sin that they had ever committed. He could see that they cared more about people’s view of them than God’s. 

What about Christians? Can we be hypocritical as well?

Most of the time, we see hypocrisy in reference to non-believers, the unsaved. However, Peter is writing specifically to believers in this passage.

Yes, even a Christian can wear a mask of holiness. Christians are often guilty of washing the outside but ignoring the sin within. A Christian’s hypocrisy cannot be to the extent of a non-believer’s hypocrisy, as in the case of the Pharisees. However, a Christian may desire to be seen as someone they are not. Perhaps they want to be seen more holy and less sinful than they are in real life. These types of masks are worn often, even among fellow Christians. 

Such hypocrisy is a sin, and it is an enemy of growing love among a community of believers. Such a person cannot genuinely love others because they are consumed with pretending and keeping up his or her fake persona. At the same time, other believers cannot love such a person as needed, because all they see is the pretend person. They end up loving the actor, not the person. They end up not meeting any needs of the actor because the person underneath the mask is not transparent with his or her needs before the Christian community.

Thousands attend church each Sunday with fresh haircuts, makeup, smelling good, looking good, a smile on their faces, and Bible in hand; yet, their insides are polluted with unconfessed and unrepentant sin. They attend church with their mask, pretending that everything is perfect; but God sees right through to their heart. They look good for all to see, pretend that they need nothing, then they leave church, return to their homes, remove their masks, and return to their sins. This should not be, this cannot be, God commands us not to pretend to be holy, but “Be holy as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

God knows every detail about you. If you have sin in your life, confess it to God, and turn from it. If you need help doing so, seek help from those around you. Draw on them for support and accountability. Be genuine so that you can love others in need and so that people can see your need and love you, as well. 

~ Trey Talley

 
For more information on this, see Pastor Trey Talley’s sermon here: https://www.thechurchatpecancreek.com/sermons/1-peter-2_9-10-part-a/



 

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