It only takes a glance at social media or the news these days to see the prevalence of hate-filled language and unbridled anger almost everywhere. It is human sin nature to put up guards, defend our positions, and rip into those who disagree. But if we are in Christ, we should no longer live according to our flesh and carnality, but according to God’s nature, character, word, and spirit.
As Christians, our lives are to be lived in a different spirit than the world, no matter what is going on around us. The way we interact with others—be it our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or those strangers we meet throughout our busy days—should have a marked difference from the rest of the world. The way we respond to circumstances and events should reflect that we are born from above, bearing the likeness of our Father.
When we approach the world with a different spirit, opportunities to share the reality of God’s Kingdom with those around us will abound. Even as the world around us continues to shake—with economic breakdowns, racial tensions, political battles, and other natural and man-made disasters—we can and should be approaching each situation with the spirit and character of Christ. As a result, many will see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
THE CENTRALITY OF THE CROSS
In 2004, I wrote an article called The Battle for the Moral Soul of America, in which I said:
“Our nation is at a crossroads, a turning point in history. We are in a battle for the moral soul of America. And it’s a battle to destroy the very foundation on which we were built…You cannot build on a cracked foundation or what is already standing will inevitably fall apart.”
If broken cisterns and foundations are to be fixed, then we, the Church must awaken our hearts and get back to our spiritual moorings and biblical principles. Psalm 11:3 says, “‘If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?”
The book of Genesis tells us the Tree of Life was in the middle of the Garden of Eden. But when the serpent questions Eve in chapter 3, she replies: “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
She is referring here to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which shows us her focus has shifted. Instead of “life” being at the center of everything, she is centered on the one thing she cannot have.
You see, the deception happened when Adam and Eve no longer fixed their eyes on the Tree of Life but were distracted by the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which became the center of their focus. When we ponder this in light of the ills of our society and what’s happening around the world—from natural and human crisis to pandemics to social unrest—we realize we cannot fix the broken foundations or the broken cisterns through our mere human efforts or institutions.
In March 2010, I wrote an article titled, The Whole Earth Groans with Birth Pangs. Since that time, we have an even greater increase in disasters, crisis, and plagues around the world. We see the nations raging, political unrest, kingdom against kingdom. And we see that everything that can be shaken is being shaken.
This is no surprise to God, who gives us a biblical mandate as Christians to understand how we can maneuver through these difficult times.
In April 2010, in an article called Prophetic Perspective for Our Times, I wrote:
“We live in a time of shaking all over the world, in both the natural and spiritual realms. But we, as a people of God, do not need to fear. In the midst of the shakings, God wants His people to have perspective, peace, and purpose.”
God is calling on prophetic people to arise and rebuild our falling and failing foundations. He wants us to be a people with vision and prophetic understanding of what He is doing in the midst of all the seeming chaos. We need prophetic wisdom so we can know how to lead others and how to be part of the unshakable foundation of Christ.
ONE NEW MAN
Through the work of the Cross and the power of the resurrection, we become ONE NEW MAN. Galatians 3:28 says there is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female. The inference here is that, in Christ, we bring down every dividing wall and we become the corporate ONE NEW MAN. We’re the Body of Christ together.
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:14-16)
Acts 17 says we are ONE BLOOD.
“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings…for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” (Acts 17:26,28)
When we’ve been separated from God, the work of the Cross brings us to that place of equalizing us in the His holy presence. We deserved punishment for our sins, yet we received forgiveness through the payment that Jesus Himself provided when He gave His life for us. Jesus exemplified what true love is as He gave Himself for us when we did not deserve it. Because of that, we can pull down our dividing walls, becoming ONE BLOOD and the corporate ONE NEW MAN.
MINISTERS OF RECONCILIATION
Paul, reminds us that if anyone is in Christ, we are a new creation and that old things have passed away, thus all things become new. The Lord has reconciled us to Himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation as well as the Word of reconciliation. We are ambassadors, living in this world but representing the Kingdom of God.
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ…” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
Luke 21 tells us that the signs of the times at the end of the age will be wars and rumors of wars, increased pestilence and plagues, all kinds of shakings: kingdoms against kingdoms and nation against nation (verses 10-12). The word for nation here is ethnos, which means we are going to see race against race, ethnicity against ethnicity. Verses 25-26 speak of “distress of nations, with perplexity” and tells of “men’s hearts failing them from fear.”
Isn’t that what we see in the world today? Yet in Luke 21:13, Jesus tells us, “It shall be an occasion for your testimony.”
Although we see division and fighting and tension all around us, in the Church this should be not be!
In fact, Micah 4 says that in the latter days all people would be welcome at the mountain of the Lord; meaning that we cross our racial, denominational, and generational lines to lay aside our weapons of warfare against each other and exchange them for tools to bring in the harvest together. And from that harvest, we will see the outcast, the lame, and the sick become a strong nation.
When we who come through the place of the Cross, together fixing our eyes on the centrality of the Cross, we can bring healing in the midst of a world of turmoil that can never be fixed by the institutions of men.
The world will never find an answer because they are looking for answers in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But if we, the Church, focus on the Tree of Life—the Zoe or divine life of God—and together fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, we can bring hope in the midst of the confusion, chaos, and pain that is going on around us.
LEADING THE WAY
The world’s institutions are broken, and there will never be lasting reformation or change without an inward working of God to deal with the iniquities and corruptions of the heart. And it takes the Church to lead the way.
The world is looking for an answer and the answer lies in the Church, when Jesus is our Lord. It’s time for soul searching and a corporate heart awakening for revival in the nation, and it will come by choice, circumstance, or consequence. Better to have a heart awakening than a rude awakening.
We will always have our personal preferences and differences. But in the midst of our differences, we must focus on the centrality of the Cross, recognizing we would never be family without the work of the Cross and the power of the resurrection. It’s only there, at the Cross, that the world can find this same place of liberty and freedom allotted to each and every one of us who call upon the name of the Lord.
This past June, I was asked to joina group of pastors from various denominations and ethnicities who were gathering at City Hall in Houston for a time of prayer for the ills and unrest in our nation. More specifically, I was asked to close out in prayer and prepare us for communion. I realized, in the middle of all that’s going on, isn’t communion symbolic of our need, as the Body of Christ? It’s a fellowship offering demonstrating that we need one another. As Christians, we are called across racial, denominational, and generational lines to set a plumb line not just of righteousness and justice, but with healing and hope.
I shared that my mother was Japanese and I was born in Japan, and that although I’m proud of my Japanese heritage and my cultural background as an American of Asian descent, when I placed my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ I became part of something bigger than myself. Jesus said in Matthew 12:50, “Whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” I then looked at pastors and all who had gathered and expressed that we are family in the Body of Christ and a beautiful reflection of the Kingdom of God.
We have real challenges and broken cisterns and things that need to be addressed in the Body of Christ and in our nation if we’re going to heal the soul of a nation. In the advent of social media, it has become easier for many to just blast our thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Yet we, especially as ministers of reconciliation, must be sensitive to how we express ourselves, even in our strong disagreements. We cannot paint one another with a broad brush or stroke. But instead—at the Centrality of The Cross, being One New Man and of One Blood—we can be ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation, bringing hope to the culture in which we live. At The Cross, we’re no longer separated but together.
We are all one blood in Christ, and even more so through the work of the Cross power of the resurrection. Jesus, while I was in my sin, gave His life for me and brought me into this amazing family called the Church, the Body of Christ. We are one family with many gifts and many parts, but one body with one blood.
As family, we must love one another as Christ has loved us. John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” If we look through that prism first and come into the presence of a holy God with worship and adoration, then all the things that seem to separate us begin to dissipate.
2 Chronicles 5:11 gives us a beautiful picture of the priests coming from the Holy Place, the presence of God, without division. When we make Jesus the centrality of our focus, the things that that bring us together are more than what separates us. In that place, we are equalized. Regardless of our backgrounds, we come out not according to division, but with one voice and one sound. And then the glory of God comes.
I continue to find myself praying Zephaniah 3:3-5, 9:
“Lord, You are righteous and do no unrighteousness. You bring justice to light. You never fail, But the unjust knows no shame…Lord, hear our cry to restore to YOUR people a pure language (lip and heart), that we all may call on the Name of The Lord, and to serve YOU with ONE ACCORD.”
WHAT’S OUR STORY?
In the midst of the noise and all that is happening in our world today, there are some who would try to hijack the narrative, because those who tell the story define the narrative and create the history.
What story are we, the Church, telling? Are we going to let the world hijack the narrative? Or will we define the narrative and create the history?
The world is desperately looking for an answer that they will not find in broken systems. They will only find it in the work of the Cross and the power of the resurrection; reflected through ONE NEW MAN, ambassadors for Christ, ministers of reconciliation; crossing our barriers and bringing down dividing walls; coming to the place of the centrality of the Cross and recognizing the high cost of love paid by Jesus at Calvary.
In that place, the world will see that the Church is one because we look to the One—Jesus—who brings us to a family with ONE BLOOD—the Body of Christ—where we become those ministers of reconciliation that God has empowered us to be.
The Kingdom of God is in you and in me. Together, we can let the world see that Jesus Christ is Lord. Let us begin by praying:
“Lord, if there’s iniquity in my heart, forgive me, whether it’s covert or overt. Forgive me if I need to release and forgive others, because I’ve been liberated through Jesus’s death and resurrection.”
Each and every one of us has a story to tell; we have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. We are that ONE NEW MAN! Neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, we pull down those dividing walls and corporately come together as a coat of many colors for a world looking for answers. We are the Body of Christ together.
Let’s take the narrative back. Let’s be the Church. Let’s be the family the world desperately needs and may not even know it.
There is a battle for the soul of a generation and the soul of our nation. And the only hope is the heart of the nation, the Church. We need each other now more than ever.
by Doug Stringer