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David Otten: We are all one in Jesus

 
Posted on 5/2/2018, 1:00 AM

Greetings from Faith Lutheran Church in Eldorado,

The first time the Gospel has contact with those from the continent of Africa is at Pentecost. Luke tells us that people from Egypt and parts of Libya were present. Yet, those at Pentecost may not have been Black Africans but Semitic or Roman Africans.

In Acts 8, we find the account of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Here I think you find a much better chance that a Black African person was found hearing the Gospel. There is debate on the nature of this person, but following I. Howard Marshall, professor of New Testament Exegesis, University of Aberdeen, I believe he was a "God-fearer," thus not a Semitic Jew, and had made a pilgrimage to worship at a festival in Jerusalem.

I also find it interesting that, of all the travelers heading to distant countries that day, God made sure this one would hear the Gospel.

At times, I hear that Christianity is a "white man's religion." Though not for some time, I have received questions about the color of Jesus' skin or if he was African. Sometimes these are true questions of curiosity; at other times a prelude to an attack on Christianity.

European Christians have not given the best witness of Christ through the centuries to those in Africa or elsewhere, but many have - or otherwise Africa would not be the new global center of the Christian faith. As we look at God's Word the good news of Jesus is for all people as this story shows.

Early Jewish/Christians needed to get past the false idea that one had to be Jewish first then a Christian. Christ fulfilled the Mosaic law and opened the way for all to be found in His grace. St. Paul wrote in Galatians 3:28-29: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

As sinful humans, we all lean toward selfish and egotistic positions. We need to have others point out these problems.

Daily we need to examine our life to find any falsehood that hides in dark corners longing to fester and grow. Past transgressions are to be confessed and forgiven. Are we guilty by association and heritage? Yes, for we all bear the sin of Adam. We all need to adopt the attitude of Philip, who understood himself as a servant of Christ and a servant to all. He was Christ to the eunuch.

Christ forgave our sins and the sins of all. As you struggle with your own prejudices and racist attitudes, be assured Christ sends forth His Spirit to empower you. I pray people see not your sinful self but Christ, and not just for six weeks, but every day of your life.

He is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia.

Pastor Otten