Grace-Filled Conversations

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In 1972, a song called “Black and White” by the group Three Dog Night contained the lyrics:

The ink is black, the page is white
Together we learn to read and write
A child is black, a child is white
Together they grow to see the light
And now, at last
We plainly see
We’ll have a dance of liberty

This is far from what we really see happening today. During the weekend service, Christine Sweeney from The Tabernacle said that relationships need grace. Grace allows open communication, honest communication, and imperfect communication. If conversations had to be perfect, we would never have them.

Ephesians 4:2
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

At one time or another, most of us have been offended by the words and actions of others. These offenses hinder our spiritual growth and are a trap by the enemy to cripple and ensnare us. An offense can become an obstacle that inhibits our ability to hear God’s voice, a roadblock that prevents us from experiencing the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

The opposite of offend is love—when you fill your heart with love, there is no room for bitterness, rejection, and unforgiveness. What (or should I say who) is the source of this love? Jesus. We must accept Christ as the perfect sacrifice who suffered and died on the cross, only to rise again. He is the only bridge sinful men can cross to receive forgiveness and the Father’s love. It is there we learn to love each other, as Christ loves us.

The commands to love one another (John 13:34) and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39) were given and modeled by Jesus, who was extremely compassionate. Now, these commands are expected of his followers.

In the words of Lead Pastor Ben Snyder, “Being ‘not a racist’ is not enough. Be an anti-racist.” He told us that we need to speak out—even when it’s uncomfortable—or racism will never go away.

James 4:6
And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Martin Luther King said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Questions:
How comfortable are you talking about race?

What does love require of us when it comes to the injustices of racism? Is there something you need to start doing? Is there anything you need to stop doing? How will you check yourself and hold yourself accountable if you notice you, or someone else, is being racist?

Next Steps:
We waste our time waiting for a path to appear, but it never does. We forget that paths are made by walking, not waiting, and we forget that there’s nothing about our present circumstances that prevents us from making progress, one step at a time. Look for an opportunity to connect with someone who doesn’t look like you today.

Prayer:
Lord, examine my heart and root out the racism hiding there. Show me my blind spots and help me to see the truth, even when it is uncomfortable. I want to know the truth that will set me free. Help me to treat others as I would like to be treated. Give me opportunities today to demonstrate your love for all people. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Gary Schnabel, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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2 replies
  1. Lucas Eckel
    Lucas Eckel says:

    I really like when you said “ An offense can become an obstacle that inhibits our ability to hear God’s voice, a roadblock that prevents us from experiencing the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.” Thank you Gary!

  2. Julie Estep
    Julie Estep says:

    These are some really good questions. I know I find it hard to have these conversations. The next steps make some good points. I will ponder and meditate on this article today. It’s good food for thought, thanks Gary!

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