Sunday, August 30, 2009

Faces in the Crowd

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed." Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"
"You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?'
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." (Mark 5:24-34)

I'd love to know more about this women, wouldn't you – this woman who was so desperate to be healthy that she was willing to try social conventions and religious laws? For twelve years, she had lived with the bleeding. If it's the kind of bleeding it seems to be, then she had lived as well with the pronouncement of the Law that she was “unclean.” (Leviticus 15:25-27) After so long, surely she had resigned herself to never being well, never joining in the joyful processions to the Temple for the festivals, never being a fully-participating part of the community. And, depending on how scrupulous her husband, family, and friends might have been, she might have resigned herself to missing much more than that. For at least some of the people around her, I imagine, any physical contact would have been out of the question.

So it's a true indicator of her desperation – and I think of her alienation from people around her – that she slips through the crowd to try and touch Jesus unnoticed. There's no raising of the voice from her, like the leper or the blind man who cried out to Jesus for healing. She doesn't even come and kneel respectfully, like the synagogue leader who got to Jesus just before she did. “If I can just touch his cloak, I'll be healed,” she reasons.

She's quiet. Easy to overlook. She's OK with that, because that's just the way she wants it. If she can just “accidentally” brush against him in the crowd, then no one's the wiser. There will be no embarrassing confrontation, where she has to say publicly what's wrong with her and receive the censure and self-righteousness of her peers. If she can just brush against him in the press of the mob, she can go away well and no one will ever have to know why.

I wonder how many people in our world are like her. Sick, but quiet and overlooked. Unable to bear the cost of getting well, but unwilling to let anyone know. I wonder how many can relate to the words of Mark: She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. Seniors who have to choose which prescriptions to refill, if any. Kids whose parents can't get them treatment for common childhood ailments that most of us never have to think about. Parents and grandparents who won't see their kids or grandkids grow up because they can't be screened for colon cancer or heart disease or high blood pressure. Young adults whose life span is shortened because they can't afford treatment for health problems that will only worsen over time.

Health care, of course, is the political issue of the moment, and however you paint it, it comes down to this one issue: What does a society that thinks of itself as moral and ethical do with people like that woman in that crowd? What do we do when there are people among us who are sick, but quiet and overlooked? Whatever you think of the President's plan, whatever you might think about the government's role in health care, we can't lose sight of the real issue. It's not about which political party looks better. It's not about your personal opinion of our President. It's about what we do as a people with folks who are lost in the crowd and left without access to the kind of care many of us take for granted.

Whatever our opinions and positions in the current health care debate, there's one opinion, one position, that is untenable for people who claim to follow Jesus. It's never correct for the church to say, implicitly or explicitly, “I've got mine – let them figure out a way to get theirs.” As a Christian, if you don't want the government involved in health care, then your next statement has to be, “What can I do, what can the church do, for people who are lost in the crowd, unable to care for themselves and unable to make their voices heard?”

I'm so certain about that – and you should be, too – because we know what happened when that poor, sick, desperate woman reached out a hand in that crowd and touched Jesus. She found healing. And Jesus, not willing to let her remain anonymous, commended her faith and sent her away in peace. It seems like those closest to him never noticed her. Jesus could have ignored her, too. He could have suggested that she needed to work harder so that she could afford better health care. He could have questioned whether she even belonged in the country. But he healed her. He commended her faith. And he sent her away in peace.

And so I believe that his church should be the champions of those, like that woman, who reach out their hands in desperation and hope and faith, believing that God will take notice and heal them and their families. If not through supporting legislative reform of the existing system, then through individual efforts to facilitate access to existing resources. Only Jesus heals. But his people can help to make sure that reaching hands can come in contact with the hem of his garment.

I know – that doesn't seem like the church's work. But it is. Jesus didn't require that woman to be baptized first. He didn't make her listen to a sermon or volunteer in his ministry or straighten out her life. He didn't have to. When she reached out her hand in faith and found healing – oh, she would have followed him anywhere.

People still will, when they reach out and find Jesus' people there to help. They'll follow him anywhere.

Whatever you think about the health care debate, don't ignore those reaching hands.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version TNIV (r), Copyright (c) 2005 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"It's Not the Dunking; It's the Decision"

...Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:3-4)

With a prayer, a few words, a quiet splash, and a wet hug, the most significant baptism I'll probably ever have a part in was completed last Sunday. I've lost track of the number of times I've said a few words and a prayer and put someone under the water, but only once has it been my son there in the baptistry with me. To be honest, the other baptisms all kind of blur together for me. It's not that they weren't significant or important to me, but you'll understand when I say that I won't remember the other ones like I'll remember this one.

I won't use much space writing about the experience of baptizing my son, partly because I don't have the words and mostly because the words I have would embarrass him. I've been thinking about baptism this week, though. In the Churches of Christ, the faith tradition in which I've spent my life so far, baptism of adult believers by immersion is very important. Sometimes, though, it's been important to us for the wrong reasons. This week, I've been surprised again by some things I thought I already knew. Maybe the same will be true for you.

I've been reminded of the “all of us” nature of baptism. Our church has genuinely shared in our joy. They've shaken Josh's hand, hugged him, told him how happy they are for him. They've been nearly as thankful and proud and pleased as we've been, and it's reminded me that baptism is a community event in which a person enters a family. As personal and individual as it may seem, baptism initiates us into a community that transcends time and space, that reaches back over the millennia and forward into eternity. As we embrace the Lord Jesus in baptism, we also embrace his people. I'm under no illusion that Josh has gotten to this point in his walk with the Lord due solely to my good example and teaching, or even my wife's. Our church, his community of faith, has had a lot to do with it as well. I pray that his community, who has helped him this far, will not fail him.

I've been thinking of how baptism relates to conversion. I believe, as nearly everyone in my faith tradition does, that baptism is for believers, not for infants. Some folks who are baptized among us bring quite a scandalous history to the baptistry, and I'm always inspired by hearing the stories of how they've left behind their old lives to follow Jesus. But I've been praying for years, in the words of a friend of mine, that my son wouldn't have to be “converted.” My prayer, answered in part last Sunday, has been that Josh's walk with the Lord – whatever twists and turns may surely be a part of it – would start early in his life. If he wanders away a bit, I'll trust in Jesus' promise that nothing and no one can take his sheep out of his hand. And when the Lord brings him back, it will be back to a life and a community that he has known from his early years.

We've generally connected baptism with forgiveness of sin, and that's because the Bible seems to make that connection (c.f. Acts 2:38). But that's not the only connection the Bible makes, and this week I've been thinking more about baptism as death and life. “We were therefore buried with [Christ Jesus] through baptism into death,” Paul wrote in Romans. What kind of father hands his son over to death? That's what I did last Sunday, though, because I believe that God handed his Son over to death for Josh. Baptism is a re-enactment – more than that, an appropriation – of Jesus' death and resurrection. In being baptized into Christ, we join him in testifying that we trust in God to sustain us and ultimately give us life.

More than that, in baptism we announce our intentions to begin living this new life now, before the Lord returns and God's kingdom breaks into the world visibly and powerfully. Our baptism isn't just a moment to which we point as evidence that God has forgiven our sins. It also reminds us of who we are and the life we've entered. It exposes hypocrisy when our walk doesn't match our talk. It strengthens us when we know the right thing to do but are having trouble finding the courage to do it. It reminds us of God's promises when we're feeling discouraged and broken-hearted. It gives us hope for the future when the present looks hopeless. We look back to our baptism when we need to remember who we are, what we believe is most important, and what God promises us.

Josh told me, as we talked last week about his upcoming baptism, that he hoped that when he messed up, I wouldn't play the baptism card and tell him that he should know better. (I told him I promised I wouldn't, as long as he wouldn't do it to me.) But I do pray he'll remember it. Not so that he'll feel the weight of guilt when he fails, but so that he'll feel the blessing of forgiveness. Not so that he'll feel he can't possibly measure up to what God wants of him, but so he'll know that he can. Not so that he'll feel alone and different, but so that he'll know that he has a place and a family – people who love him no matter what. And not so that he'll feel alienated from the world, but so he'll sense his responsibility to be a part of God's work within it.

As usual, Josh summed up his baptism better than I ever could. “It's not the dunking, it's the decision,” he said. Not even dry, and he's already a better preacher than I am.

He's right, of course. In the end, your baptism is about the decision you made to follow Jesus. It's about the death you choose to die and the life you choose to live, your confession that Jesus is Lord and the reality of letting him be. I pray that you look back with joy on that moment in your own life, and that it brings clarity and strength to your life today.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version TNIV (r), Copyright (c) 2005 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 14, 2009


What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if people claim to have faith but have no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (James 2:14-18)

On a tour of one of the movie studios during our family's trip to Los Angeles last week, we visited some of the backlot sets. There was a city street backlot. An Old West backlot. A Europe backlot. And old Mexico. One of the things we learned was that most of the buildings in the backlot are just for show. If you walk through the front door, well, that's about all there is. These sets, called facades, run no more than about five feet deep. They're just made to be seen, made to be photographed, but there's nothing behind the facade. If you want to shoot an interior shot, you have to put the actors in a sound stage or another building.

The other kind of sets on the backlot, as you may have guessed, are completely built out. They're real buildings, as opposed to facades.You can shoot a scene on the outside of the building, or you can use the inside too. The name for these kinds of sets makes perfect sense: they're called practical sets. Practical, because you can use them. You can follow an actor through the front door, move a scene from exterior to interior without editing.

One other thing I learned: it's tough to tell facades from practical sets from the outside. Facades are made to fool you, after all. They're intended to convince you that they actually are brownstones or saloons or hotels. At first glance, you might be convinced that a facade is a practical set.

But look inside, and the difference is obvious.

For several hundred years, Christians have struggled to come to terms with how verses in the Bible that tell us that we're saved by faith and not by works reconcile with verses that tell us that we're saved by what we do, and not faith alone. There are texts, after all, that say both of those things. And it's fair to ask how both can be true, and it's understandable that we might think one contradicted the other. But like a lot of deep theological mysteries, this one dissipates with an application of common sense and a dose of experience. And, as it happens, a trip to a Hollywood backlot.

You know there are people, whether you know any of them personally or not, whose faith is a facade. There's an exterior that might fool someone at first glance. Maybe it's a carefully-maintained exterior, even, that can withstand more than a cursory glance. They're known for their piety. Respected and admired in their churches. Maybe they're leaders in their churches, even: people who others follow and emulate. They say things that give the impression of a deep relationship with God. They know the Bible. They're fluent in “churchy” vocabulary. But get to know them, and you see that their faith doesn't go five feet deep. You find that there's nothing behind the facade.

You also know people, and I bet you know some personally, whose faith is genuine. Oh, you can see it from the outside too, just like the “facade” Christians. But in their case, there's something behind the exterior. Their faith isn't strictly to be seen from the outside. You're welcome to open the windows, walk through the doors, and see what's behind it all. Maybe their piety is known and respected as well, maybe they're fluent in “churchy” vocabulary as well, but their faith is about more than those things. It's a faith that shows itself in their office as well as in their church. It's a faith that's comfortable serving the poor as well as saying important things in a Bible class. They might know the Bible, and they certainly know it well enough to know that “facade” faith isn't really faith at all. They know – and they model – that real faith is practical.

Because that's really the difference, isn't it? That's how we know whether our faith is genuine or not. “What good is it...if people claim to have faith but have no deeds? Can such faith save them?” That may sound a little harsh, a little intolerant, but I think James just means to point out something that deep down we all know. Real faith, real trust in God, always creates action. In response to God's love and grace, people act.

Look at the stories in the Bible of the people who trusted God, and you see that it's true. Abraham, Moses, David, Jeremiah. Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah. Rahab, Joshua, Noah. These were people of action, because they had faith that as long as they trusted God the things they did were not in vain.

You can also look at a lot of those folks and see that they didn't always make the right choices. God doesn't ask us for flawless judgment, and he recognizes that none of us are immune to temptation, and he knows our limits. All he asks is that we trust him – have faith in him – and he promises that he'll watch over us and protect us and redeem us and save us.

But real faith always – always – is practical.

I think it's great that the Bible doesn't ask us to judge each others' faith. That's because the only faith I'm truly able to evaluate is my own. And the best way I know to do that is to ask myself one question: “Is my faith practical?” Is there anything behind the facade? Will my faith contain the work God wants me to do? Does it tell the story of his grace in my life? Does it bring about action? Or is it just for show – a false front I wear to play a part for those who might be looking on?

If honest evaluation tells me that there's not much action in my faith, then it's time to make a change. It's time to serve. To work. To act in God's name. It's time to put some depth in my faith, add some practical to my facade. To rest secure in God's love – not because of the things I've done, but through genuine trust in his grace.

Ready? Action!

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version TNIV (r), Copyright (c) 2005 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated — the world was not worthy of them. (Hebrews 11:35-37)

Robert Whittaker is a Welsh physician who went to Nigeria nearly 35 years ago, after being moved by a magazine article reporting the need for doctors in the African nation. He began by spending his vacations in Nigeria, but eventually he and his wife, Annette, relocated there. They live on the compound of Nigerian Christian Hospital near the city of Aba with their son, Ozioma.

Those who know Dr. Whittaker call him “humble” and “selfless.” He could without a doubt earn a very comfortable living in Wales, or most anywhere else, for that matter. He could be very prosperous, and maybe even share some of his prosperity with missionaries when his conscience started bothering him. But he's made a choice to live his life and practice his profession among people who are rich in need, but poor in wealth. He's chosen not to be insulated from those who most need his skills.

The catch, of course, is that he's not insulated from others, either. Others who can benefit from him in other ways

That explains, as far as anything can explain, why a car full of gunmen pulled up to Nigerian Christian Hospital Sunday night. They shot the hospital's security guard, then abducted Dr. Whittaker. Annette was slightly injured in the attack, but is expected to recover completely. The guard is still being treated for his wounds.

Dr. Whittaker was, thankfully, released after 46 hours in captivity, after staffers at Nigerian Christian Hospital negotiated with his captors. He will travel to the U.S., when he's able, to receive treatment for his gunshot wound. He may yet lose an arm.

With a lot of prayer and the grace of God, this story ended as happily as possible, I suppose. At best, though, the events show that a fallen world doesn't necessarily respect and appreciate people like Dr. Whittaker – people who forego “success” as the world defines it in order to answer God's call on their lives.

That's no secret, is it? We all recognize that there are no promises that serving the Lord makes life easier. Some of God's people, in fact, have discovered that serving the Lord complicates matters. Some, the writer of Hebrews reminds us, endured torture and death rather than renounce their faith, placing their hope instead in their promised resurrection. Mockery, insults, violence, prison, and even martyrdom didn't deter them. While they might have wanted a world that worshipped the Lord and recognized their devotion, they accepted the world's disdain, ridicule, and hostility. They went around in rags instead of the expensive clothes of the world's approval. They chose to be destitute by the world's standards so that they could be rich toward God.

“The world was not worthy of them,” the text says. What a compelling phrase. We so often think in terms of being worthy of the world: its accolades, its respect, its admiration, its rewards. And the world sits in stern judgment on people of faith, people who would dare to suggest a different set of priorities, a different standard of measuring worth. The world tries to force us into their mold, make us accept their standards and priorities. In Dr. Whittaker's case, they seem to have done it literally. They've placed a value on Dr. Whittaker's life measured in the desire of the people who love him to have him back.

They have absolutely no idea. No clue whatsoever.

What value do you place on the lives he's saved? The suffering he's relieved? The compassion and care he's given? What value do you place on his faithfulness as a channel of God's grace and proclaimer of the gospel of Jesus? They won't take that into account as they determine their ransom, of course. They can't. They don't care. That kind of value doesn't spend in their world.

And that's why the world isn't worthy of Dr. Whittaker.

Let's just go ahead and decide, right here and now, that we don't care if the fallen world in which we live will ever understand our worth. Let's just go ahead and make up our minds that we won't live for the world's appreciation and accolades, that instead we'll become a part of the “great cloud of witness” that testifies to a different world, a different way of living, a different set of values.

By the way, that worth of ours? It doesn't come from what we do, or what we know, or what we may have given up. Without our loving God, without Jesus crucified and raised, without the gift of the Holy Spirit, we're no different from anyone else. It's God who gives us our value, and God who raises our awareness of it. And once our awareness is raised, settling for the admiration of the world will never satisfy us.

Only one thing will. The Bible says “God has planned something better...” for his people throughout the ages who defer the rewards of the world and endure its contempt for his sake. (Hebrews 11:39) I'm surprised to discover that belief makes me feel a little better about Dr. Whittaker's situation. Oh, I'm still praying for his recovery, and the recovery of the guard, and for comfort for his family, and I hope you will too. But I have a feeling that Dr. Whittaker will continue to be the person God has made him through Jesus, whatever happens next. And I believe that, whether or not the world ever treats him with respect and admiration, he will have his reward. His God has prepared something better for him.

For you and I, too. Ironically, we're sent to this world, this world that has consistently proven itself unworthy to host God's people, as carriers of his love and grace. And maybe that world will never understand the gospel of Jesus if they don't see forgiveness, faith, and and grace lived out by us. And maybe that's why people like Dr. Whittaker have to endure the world's contempt because in his faith and endurance, the love of Jesus Christ is re-enacted.

May God grant us the grace to walk in his footsteps, wherever they might lead.

Contributions for the Whittakers and letters of encouragement may be sent to:

International Health Care Foundation
102 N. Locust,
Searcy, AR 72143

Please note “Whittaker Fund” on checks.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version TNIV (r), Copyright (c) 2005 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"To This You Were Called..."

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 
 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:21-23)

Thursday, President Obama had a beer at the White House with two guys from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Of course, if you've kept up with the news lately you're probably aware of this. You might even have read which brands each chose.

The Beer Summit, as it's being called, was the President's idea, apparently, to try to turn an ugly incident in Cambridge into a “teachable moment.” You probably know the story by now. Henry Gates, a prominent Harvard professor who happens to be African-American, returns home from a long trip to find that the front door of his house is stuck. The cab driver who gave him a lift from the airport helps him get inside through a back entrance, but the two are seen by a neighbor of Dr. Gates', who apparently didn't recognize him and called the police. When the police arrived and asked Dr. Gates to step outside, he refused. The other participant in the Beer Summit, Sergeant James Crowely, entered the house, where Dr. Gates, after an apparently heated exchange, showed identification that proved he lived there. As Sgt. Crowley left, Dr. Gates followed him outside, loudly demanding his badge number and an apology. At this point, Sgt. Crowley arrested Dr. Gates for disorderly conduct, handcuffed him, and took him to the police station. The charges were soon dropped, but the finger-pointing and dissection of the event have only increased.

Those are the facts of what happened. It's the interpretation of the facts that have brought racial divisions in our newly “post-racial” country to the surface again. On the one hand you have those who point out, quite rightly, that Dr. Gates was in his own home, was under no obligation to come outside with Sergeant Crowley, and that asking for an officer's badge number – even in an insulting and loud manner – is not a crime. Those on this side of the argument will further point out that Professor Gates is a respected and well-known member of the community, is 58 years old, and walks with a cane. They will also make the point, quite rightly, that most African-American men of Dr. Gates' age have been, at least once in their lives and probably many times, treated unfairly, harassed, or goaded by police officers. They will also paint Sergeant Crowley as a racist thug.

On the other hand, we have those who say that Dr. Gates behaved in an arrogant and unreasonable manner, that he should have showed deference to Sgt. Crowley, and that he shouldn't have followed him outside shouting demands and (possibly) insults. These folks will point out that Sgt. Crowley teaches racial sensitivity and anti-profiling workshops for the Cambridge police force, and has an exemplary record. Those on this side of the argument will further point out that Sgt. Crowley puts his life on the line to serve his community, and that he deserved more respect than Dr. Gates seemed willing to give him.

Of course, both sides of the argument make good points. And until any of us are in the shoes of either of the principals in this fiasco, it's difficult to say how we might have acted differently. I think this story – one that is probably replayed many times daily, all over the country, only with less-visible personalities connected to it – has captured our attention because it says more about us than it says about Dr. Gates and Sergeant Crowley. If you can't figure out why in the world an educated man like Henry Gates would behave in such a manner toward a police officer, then ask yourself what you don't understand about being an African-American man in America. I know African-American parents who tell their children to avoid the police whenever possible, the same way my parents taught me to find a police officer if I was ever in trouble. I can tell you stories about friends of mine who have been harassed by police on their own property, in circumstances that wouldn't have attracted a second glance if my friends had been white.

And if you assume that Officer Crowley is a jackbooted racist, ask yourself what you don't understand about being a police officer and being confronted with such a situation. Ask yourself why you assume that his actions were racially motivated. Ask yourself how well you'd handle it if you were an officer doing your job, responding to a call from a concerned neighbor, and were met by open hostility and defiance.

“Who do you think you are?” I think that's the question that hung in the air that day between Dr. Gates and Sergeant Crowley, whether it was ever voiced or not. It's understandable, and it's human, and it's really about who we think we are. When that question gets asked, it's because the asker doesn't feel properly appreciated, valued, and respected. “Who do you think you are?' is the question voiced. “Why won't you understand who I am?” is the real concern. From that standpoint, maybe the Harvard professor and the police officer both blew it a little bit.

We have a mandate, as believers in Jesus, to trust in who God says we are. Jesus didn't respond to insults and suffering with retaliation and threats. He endured the suffering and trusted that God would sort it out. What would happen if we all took that example a little more seriously, if we could respond with kindness when someone is cruel, with respect when someone is disrespectful?

The fact is, though, that because of the human tendency toward self-preservation, those in power often have to make the first move in this direction. Those who, by virtue of race or education or wealth or influence or whatever, occupy a privileged position in our world will often have to be the first to respond to hostility with respect, anger with gentleness, harshness with kindness. That's why I'm convinced that those in the racial majority in this country, white people, have to make the first moves of reconciliation toward minorities. We risk less by doing so than those for whom prejudice, discrimination, and injustice are familiar occurrences.

I think maybe President Obama's impulse was the right one: if people can just sit down together and begin to get to know each other, it can go a long way toward reconciliation. It can help us to get the focus off of ourselves, remind us that the right question isn't “Who do you think you are?” It's “Who does God say we are?” And that question, rightly answered, will always put us in the same place together as God's creatures, recipients together of his love, and alike in need of his grace.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version TNIV (r), Copyright (c) 2005 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved.

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