Thursday, April 30, 2015

Pray for Baltimore...Pray for the Church

How do we think about and talk about and pray about what has been happening in Baltimore? There are a lot of very unhelpful and incendiary things being said all over social media, some of them by Christians.

Russell Moore is a trustworthy guide on matters of Christian ethics. I highly recommend his website and his blog. He will regularly help you think through current events and cultural issues from a wise, gospel-saturated Christian perspective. Please go read the whole thing, but here's an excerpt from his recent post, "What Baltimore Needs" (emphasis added):
There’s no question that Baltimore needs order and restraint of violence. There’s no question that Baltimore needs investigation and justice in the untimely death of Freddie Gray. There’s no question that Baltimore suffers from poverty, racial injustice, family breakdown, illegal drugs, gang activity, and a thousand other ailments. Government, civil society, law enforcement, and community organizations must confront all of these. But I would argue that the primary need Baltimore has is for the church
By saying this, I am not suggesting that systemic problems can be wiped out simply by more and more people becoming Christians and leading transformed lives. We needed, after all, a Civil War and some constitutional amendments to end the scourge of human slavery in this country. We need governing authorities to do their God-assigned responsibilities, and as citizens we should see to it that systems are reformed in ways conducive to justice and the common good. But, as a Christian, I believe the primary vehicle for shaping consciences to prioritize life and justice and peace and order is the community of the church, under the reign of Christ. 
The gospel polarizes the church from the world, separating out a holy people. But within the church, the gospel ends the polarization of people from one another. As we are filled with the Spirit, we throw aside the primacy of our tribal allegiances, whatever they are, and we seek the interests of the others, of our brothers and sisters. As we do so, we learn what it is to follow Christ by making peace (Rom. 12:9-21).
Let's keep praying for the city of Baltimore, and the church of Jesus in Baltimore. And let's pray that we will be this kind of church here in Wilmington, for Wilmington.