White Like Me

I remember picking up the book Black Like Me at a friend’s house sometime in 1964 as an eighth grade student. Published in 1961 it was the account of a white journalist’s travels in the Deep South disguised as a black man at a time when racial tensions in our country were strained. His objective was to experience life from the other side.

To say the least it was an eye-opening read for a young white boy. Although I was raised in California, my contacts with people who were not like me were limited. In all of my formative years I had one Asian friend, Wesley and one black friend, Leonard. In addition there were a handful of children of Hispanic immigrant workers, who came in and out of school. Many of them never stayed long; their parents were following the crops.

The vast majority of people I knew were White. Like. Me.

That situation leads to a very narrow perspective. When you only know people like you, you don’t learn that differences exist. You think, especially at a young age, that the world is filled with people who are exactly like you. People who look like you. People who think like you. People who have the same values and outlook on life as you.

That first exposure to the real world where differences exist, even through a book, can be a upsetting to your little world. That was what happened to me as I read the story of John Howard Griffin’s journey into another world. A world that I knew little about.

We have a similar problem today.

Not that we don’t know about the others, but that we don’t want to know. We want to live with blinders on. To act like they aren’t there – if we ignore them they might go away. If we oppose them they will run. If we shout loud enough we won’t hear what they are saying.

We want people to be like us, especially if we’re from a European descent. It’s just easier that way.

The problem that many people have is that the immigrants who are ruining America aren’t like us. The LGBT crowd that is destroying the morals of our country isn’t like us.

And it’s true – they’re not.

But that’s not the most crucial factor, especially for Christians.

What’s important is that they are people. And for the Christian – at least for those who really care what God thinks and what the Bible says – that’s more important than what they look like, or where they came from or even what they believe or how they act.

They are people who are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). People God loves (John 3:16). People who can be reached with the gospel (Matthew 28:19). People who have an eternal destiny (Hebrews 9:27).

We need to stop wishing that the world (or our country) was different – that people were like us, and begin to see people with the eyes of God.

If we did, we wouldn’t care if they were White. Like. Me.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve


The Beauty of the Body

It’s Valentine’s Day and some of you are wondering where I’m going with that title! It’s true that God created the physical body as a thing of wonder and beauty, but that’s not the body I’m referring to.

I’m talking about the Body of Christ.

Just as God created the physical body as a thing of beauty, so He created the Body of Christ to be beautiful. Not just in our local churches but worldwide.

I’ve been exposed to the Body of Christ in both Haiti and the Philippines over the past 27 years and I have been blessed beyond anything I had anticipated.

My purpose in traveling to both of these countries was to teach in Bible Schools and preach in churches but I have learned far more from the Body in those places than I have given them.

Here are a few of the things that I’ve learned from the extended Body of Christ. I hope they encourage you to look at the Body differently.

1. I’ve seen what it means to be Satisfied.

I just returned from Haiti where our team visited eight churches in four days that were in the path of Hurricane Matthew. In each church 80-100% of the people lost the roofs on their homes. Many had family members die.

One thing that I’ve learned in Haiti (it’s also true in the Philippines) is that the Christians are satisfied. Would they like better living conditions? Sure they would. But they have learned to trust God and to be satisfied with what He has given them.

Check Philippians 4:11-13.

2. I’ve seen what Relationships look like.

I tend to enjoy solitude. Being relational doesn’t come naturally for me. But I’ve learned the importance (and the need) of relationships.

Both Haitians and Filipinos are by nature relational. In fact life for them is about relationships.

If I understand 1 Corinthians 12 correctly, the Body of Christ is also about relationships. We can’t survive without each other – at least not in a spiritually healthy way.

Because of the example of the Christians in Haiti and the Philippines, I’ve come to enjoy relationships and even to desire them.

See 1 Corinthians 12:12-14.

3. I’ve seen what it means to be Hospitable.

If Haitians and Filipinos are anything, they are hospitable. They will share their meager meal with you even if it’s all they have.

They can help you in any way they can.

They are generous and giving people – just like the Body of Christ is supposed to be.

Check James 2:14-17.

4. I’ve learned to be more about Jesus.

We talk a lot about Jesus in the church. We sing about Him. We teach about Him. We preach about Him.

But Living Jesus is another thing.

Depending on Him for everything is something that we in the Western church don’t need to do. We have a lot of material possessions. We don’t know what it means to suffer.

Our brothers and sisters have learned through their suffering to make life all about Jesus, not about things.

We can learn from their example.

See Philippians 1:21.

5. I’ve learned to listen more and talk less.

When you are in another culture, especially if you don’t speak the language, you are forced to listen more and talk less.

That’s a good thing. We learn more that way.

And by listening we begin to understand the needs, the heartaches, the joys, the hopes, and the hearts of another part of the Body.

James 1:19 applies here.

6. I’ve learned to value people.

Other cultures value people more than we do in the West. They will go out of their way not to hurt someone intentionally. It goes back to the relationships. When you have relationships that really matter to you, you value those people.

It also goes back to material possessions. When you have a lot you want to protect the things you have. Eventually things take the place of people.

Things are not important. People are. Christ never told us to value things, but He did tell us to value people.

Don’t value things. Value people. Value the Body of Christ.

Check Matthew 22:37-40.

7. I’ve learned about the importance of prayer.

Haiti was never a land without suffering but the suffering has multiplied 10-fold in the past four months. First there was Hurricane Matthew. Then the Hundred-Year flood. Now there’s a drought. There was no food in the gardens when we visited.

The physical needs are overwhelming. Yet not one person asked us to give them money or food. Their only request was for us to pray for them.

Prayer is their only hope.

And it is our only hope. Prayer is important to the Body of Christ.

Check Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6-7

The Body of Christ is Beautiful beyond anything we can imagine. God made it that way. We need to see it that way.

We need to value the Body. We need to take care of the Body.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve