The Perseverance of the Early Black Church

Photo: Reza/Getty Images

The black church is the greatest show of perseverance in Christ that we have seen in America. The very belief system that was twisted to prove their inferiority and command their submission to tyranny brought faith, hope, and love. The image of Christ displayed by slaveholders was cruel and unbiblical, turning black people into “beasts of the field” and scripture into a political device. How did the early black church come to be and how could the same scriptures used as a weapon against black people bring them hope?  

The History

They were taken from their homes in ships, packed into aisles like cargo. Ships built originally to store cargo were made to store humans like shipment. There were originally 350 of them on the San Juan Bautista: over 150 died, and over 50 of them were stolen1. The “20 and odd” Angolans that arrived at the shore had been taken by the Portuguese on a ship called the White Lion1. They were believed to be Kimbundu-speaking peoples from the kingdom of Ndongo, located in part of present-day Angola. Though free and enslaved Africans were present in North America during the 1500s, this was the beginning. The year was 1619 and the colonies’ first slaves arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. 

Slavery to this point in history was common, in fact, most every civilization has used slaves or forced labor in some form or fashion. The difference in the trans-Atlantic slave trade was justification for the enslavement of Africans was found in their race. In 1455, Pope Nicholas V issued the Romanus Pontifex which allowed Portugal to have exclusive control over states and territories it claimed along the West African coast. It gave the Portuguese the right “to invade, plunder and “reduce their persons to perpetual slavery 1.” Spain, England, and many other countries would establish contracts that authorized the sale of captive Africans to colonies in the Americas 1

Black people could not escape the discrimination and hate given to them by white colonists. To them, their black skin was a mark of inferiority

In the colonies, Africans were viewed as capital and treated as such. Especially near the beginning of slavery, there were no chances for upward movement for Africans. “The use of enslaved laborers was affirmed — and its continual growth was promoted — through the creation of a Virginia law in 1662 that decreed that the status of the child followed the status of the mother, which meant that enslaved women gave birth to generations of children of African descent who were now seen as commodities 1.” Black people could not escape the discrimination and hate given to them by white colonists. To them, their black skin was a mark of inferiority.

Fast forwarding many years later, in Pennsylvania in 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed by 56 delegates to the Second Continental Congress. A common misconception is that from that point forward America was a Christian nation. This is not entirely true. In a treaty with the Barbary Pirates in 1797, President Adams tried to stop the incessant Muslim raids against Mediterranean shipping and sought to protect American sailors from African slavery. The treaty said, “The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion 3.” The founders of our country were most likely theistic rationalists. They kept pieces of religion that believed to be rational towards the building of a country and moved away from pieces that were not. This explains why their version of religion did not properly challenge the racist, destructive ideas that established the colonies’ early economy at the expense of Black people. 

Christianity and religion were used as a tool for the moral founding of our nation in 1776.  People were heavily influenced by ideas of the Great Awakening and this movement would motivate the colonists toward the Revolutionary War 3.  Not only that, but it would also lead to a kind of religious revolution on the plantations in America. 

The Great Awakening and the American Revolution - Journal of the American  Revolution
Painting of Jonathan Edwards preaching

The Great Awakening was the first period of religious revival in the 1730s. One of the most common themes of the Great Awakening was that every person could have a personal relationship with God and come to salvation. Not only were whites hearing this message, but also Natives and Black people. The concerted effort of both Methodists and Baptists led to many black people converting to Christianity. Despite this new found faith they were not allowed to meet, so they would meet in secret to worship. Before it was legal for slaves to meet, hush harbors were the common meeting place for community, worship, and meetings. They were secret meetings organized by slaves to worship in private 5. This would become one of the first ways slaves could begin to enter into faith and establish community. 

As Black people began to believe in Jesus, impactful Black Christians began the early work of forming churches. One of the earliest Black Christian leaders was Rebecca Protten. On the rugged roads of St. Thomas, a colony in the West Indies, black men and women would come to listen to her preaching. She was possibly the most unlikely to be speaking in place of authority at the time as she was a young black woman. Despite this, Rebecca Protten’s preaching, mentorship, and teaching would be so emphatic she would be called the “Mother of the Black Reformation 8.” She was born a slave in 1718 and kidnapped at an early age from the island of Antigua. At a young age, she felt led that her purpose in life was to serve God and share the Gospel especially to the enslaved on the Island 8. Protten would eventually gain her freedom and join a group of German missionaries from the Moravian Church in 1736 8. Protten did not just give her voice to the mission of God; she gave her life. Jon Sensbach notes in his book Rebecca’s Revival that she would trudge “daily along rugged roads through the hills in the sultry evenings after the slaves had returned from the fields 8.” She was “a prophet, determined to take what she regarded as the Bible’s liberating grace to people of African descent 8.”

The early voices of the Black Christians would begin to be heard, even if only in the Church. The contributions of a young Rebecca Protten and others would set the foundation for George Leile and Andrew Bryan. These two would form the establishment of The First African Baptist Church congregation in 1773 under Reverend Leile’s leadership. The 1773 organization date for the church makes it clear that FABC is older than the United States (1776)15.  It was organized on the Brampton Plantation in Savannah Georgia, even before Reverend Leile could legally preach. In May of 1775 Reverend Leile was ordained as the pastor and December of 1777 the church was constituted as a body of organized believers.  Four converts Reverend Andrew Bryan, his wife, Hannah Bryan, Kate Hogg, and Hagar Simpson would form a part of the nucleus of First African Baptist Church’s early membership15.

First African Baptist Church - Oldest Black Church in North America
The First African Baptist Church, Savannah, Georgia

Reverend George Leile would baptize all the members of the church including Andrew Bryan. In the 1780s, Bryan began preaching to a small group of slaves in Savannah, Ga. He first commenced prayer meetings at Brampton, then he began teaching to congregations of both black and white people6. His master and other whites would actually encourage him to continue preaching as long as his influence did not encourage any rebellion. Despite this, other whites would have Bryan arrested and whipped for preaching. Though they continued to beat the bodies of Blacks, they could not take the hope they found in the Gospel. Andrew Bryan and Sampson Bryan were “inhumanly cut and their backs were so lacerated that their blood ran down to the earth as they, with uplifted hand, cried unto the Lord; but Bryan, in the midst of his torture, declared that he rejoiced not only to be whipped but would freely suffer for the cause of Jesus Christ6.”

Reverend George Leile would leave the church and continue his mission in Jamaica. Before leaving, he ordained Andrew Bryan as a Baptist minister with full authority to preach the Gospel in 1982. With the help of his brother Sampson, they would meet with other slaves in swamps and in the woods. After much harassment and beatings by whites, they were finally allowed by the courts to preach in daylight. This paved a way for the certification of the African Baptist Church on January 20, 1788 as an official Church. This predates the establishment of the first white Baptist Church14. Ultimately, these men trudged on with steady faith even amid horrible tyranny. They never stopped preaching the freedom found in Christ.  

The power of the Gospel message was found on other plantations as well. Richard Allen is the founder of African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was born a slave of Benjamin Chew of Philadelphia but would soon be sold to a planter near Delaware 6. He was converted in 1777 and began preaching three years later. He and his brother would soon purchase themselves for $2000 and look for any menial labor they could find. While doing this, he would continue to preach wherever. 

He preached with such power and fervor that traveling ministers Richard Watcoat and Bishop Asbury would give him assignments to preach in front of mostly white congregations. When he came to Philadelphia in 1786, he would be invited to the St. George Methodist Episcopal Church. The church, which included Absalom Jones, concluded that the increasing number of Blacks at the Church made it harder to have a mixed church 6. So, they left in body to seek a space where they could worship and commune away from the racism that had infiltrated the white church.

With the help of Absalom Jones, Richard Allen would organize the independent Free African Society. This society would provide mutual aid to Free Africans and was the first Black religious institution in the city of Philadelphia. This society paved the way for the establishment of the first independent Black Churches in the United States. Jones would go on to establish the African Protestant Episcopal Church of St. Thomas and Allen the African Methodist Episcopal Church. These Churches would be important as they fostered growth for other African churches across the U.S.. Historian Mary Sawyer notes that by 1810, there were 15 African churches representing four denominations in 10 cities from South Carolina to Massachusetts 5.

Though many times people see the black church as uniform in thought and doctrine, this is not true. Just like the “white” church, there are many denominations and with it a diversity of people, opinions, and biblical interpretations. If there is any denomination within the black church that exudes diversity of thought, it is the Pentecostal-Holiness Denomination. Namely, the Church of God in Christ. In 1897, the Church of God in Christ was founded by Bishop Charles Harrison Mason. Before the founding of the church, Elder Charles Harrison Mason would meet with other established preachers Elder C.P. Jones of Jackson, Elder J.E. Jeter and Elder W.S. Pleasant. They became close companions in 1896, and traveled to Jackson, Michigan, where large numbers of people were converted, sanctified, and healed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Despite the many people being saved, the teachings of Elder Mason on the doctrine of sanctification caused his expulsion from the Baptist denomination under the Mississippi State Convention14.

In 1897, when he and the other preachers returned to Jackson, Michigan, Pastor Mason delivered his first message from the steps of the local courthouse14. They had an overwhelming number of attendees which was too much for the steps of the courthouse. Thankfully, they were offered the use of an abandoned warehouse. After much toil and progress, the land was bought, and Elder Mason established a small church. Alongside Elder Jones, Elder Pleasant, and 60 charter members the Church of God in Christ was formed14.

Hope in Black Biblical Interpretation

One could go on into the immense history of the Black Church, but the Early Black Church provides a solid starting point into understanding black biblical interpretation. Especially during slavery and even after emancipation, white southerners sought to maintain control over African Americans’ worship as many Black Churches doubled as stations on the Underground Railroad 7. White southerners would twist scripture to make slaves subservient to their masters and content in their bondage. Their goal, to continue the sin of slave trade by convincing slaves of God’s conformity to racism. Slavery was seen as God’s means of protecting and providing for an inferior race (suffering the “curse of Ham” in Gen. 9:25 or even the punishment of Cain in Gen. 4:12) 11. Africans were not seen as members of the white churches they attended and faced discrimination in those same pews. Working-class Baptist and Methodist church services brought together African and European forms of religious expression to produce a unique version of worship 7. This worship reflected the anguish, pain, and occasional elation of nineteenth-century Black life in the United States 7.  

24 African American Church Illustrations & Clip Art - iStock
Antique Early American Engraving Depicting Social Issues, Circa 1850’s stock illustration

Many Black ministers would use poetry and drama in their sermons as well as vivid imagery in their biblical accounts conveying understanding of the rewards of righteousness and the wages of sin. They stirred their congregations to strive for a more profound faith and more righteous way of living in a world of adversity provided spiritual guidance for a people whose faith and capacity for forgiveness was tested daily 7. These Christians had met the “white man’s Jesus” before who preached a Gospel not of reconciliation or consummation, but of bondage and subjugation. The theology they adapted was unrecognizable from the blatant twisting of scripture by white preachers and slaveholders. As Dr. Yolanda Pierce said, “African Americans adopted Christianity, but they also adapted Christianity. They made it their own.”

Jesus chose to identify with the weak and disinherited, being born in Nazareth a place despised and looked down upon by many

The Early Black Church found in the scriptures not a God that was far off and separated from their oppression, but a God who loves every man and woman equally (Gen 1:27) and is deeply concerned about injustice (Psalm 146:7, Psalm 113:7, Leviticus 19:15-16, Proverbs 31:8-9, Proverbs 11:1).  Scripture was consistently used to justify slavery and reinforce racism towards black people as holiness.

Despite this, Black Christians found that the Word paints a different picture of what is true and holy. They saw that Jesus does not look at their skin and see imperfection. That Jesus does not join in the chorus of so-called Christians who use their power to abuse the marginalized. No, Jesus chose to identify with the weak and disinherited, being born in Nazareth a place despised and looked down upon by many (John 1:45-46, Isaiah 53:3). The message of Jesus’ death and resurrection was a message of liberation from their present pain into joy, holiness, love, and forgiveness. They found that forgiveness was an active discipline that brought freedom and was an active rebellion against the hatred of their white slaveholders. They understood that their oppressors could hurt their physical bodies, they could never take away the promise of eternity and future glory from God (Romans 8:18).

Black Christians were able to identify with the Word of God. In Exodus, God liberates the people of Israel from the Egyptians. He hears the cries of oppression and slavery that come from His beloved. God was not seen as a God who stands idly by amid tyranny and oppression, but who delivers His people from the hands of it. Slaveholders would try to bifurcate the spiritual from the social/political to silence the cries of injustice from Blacks. They did not see it that way. No, Black Christians knew that the economic, social, and political oppression of the people of God is nothing more than the physical manifestation of the spiritual sickness at the heart of the empire 13

The theology of the Black Church would permeate every part of their lives. Christianity gave Black Christians identity and dignity that has prevailed for centuries. They formed a community that was strengthened by their pain and fastened by steadfast love. The innumerous amount of early church pioneers would inspire the likes of Frederick Douglass, Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King, WEB Dubois and so many more. Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and David Walker would later arm themselves with the same truths the early Black Church leaned on to argue against slavery. Martin Luther King Jr. would as well by arguing for the Imago Dei: the image of God in man, a theology distant from the slaveholders’ religion. It’s just as Frederick Douglass said, “Of all the forms of negro hate in this world, save me from that one which clothes itself with the name of the loving Jesus.”

The Black Church remains possibly the most enduring institution of the African American Story 8. You could fill volumes with the vastness of history in the Black Church. The Black Church is extremely diverse in thought, rich in history, and evolving still today. The pain, murders, lynchings, torture, and enslavement of black people should have been enough to destroy their dignity and community. By the grace of God, it was not. The perseverance of Black Christians still abides in this age amid systemic injustice and is inspired by the beliefs of those strong, faithful Black men and women.


  1. A Brief History of Slavery That You Didn’t Learn in School – The New York Times   (
  2. First Enslaved Africans Arrive in Jamestown Colony – HISTORY
  3. Was America Founded As A Christian Nation? (
  4. The U.S. a Christian Nation? Not According to the Founders! | History News Network
  5. The Black Church | American Experience | Official Site | PBS
  6. History of the Negro Church by Carter G. Woodson
  7. “The Black Church in America,” a brief history – African American Registry (
  8. Why the Enslaved Adopted the Religion of Their Masters—and… | Christian History | Christianity Today
  9. Frederick Douglass – Narrative, Quotes & Facts – HISTORY
  10. How Christian Slaveholders Used the Bible to Justify Slavery | Time
  11. Why Did So Many Christians Support Slavery? | Christian History | Christianity Today
  12. Savannah’s History: First African Baptist Church
  13. Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope by Esau McCaulley
  16. CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST COGIC – Historic Protestant denomination (

The Mind of Christ

Our minds are like computers. In fact, they are even more complex. As the mathematician Ian Parker says,”If our brains were simple enough for us to understand them, we’d be so simple that we couldn’t.” We are constantly learning and attaining new information. We are deep thinking beings who are continuously seeking to understand more and know more. Despite this desire, there is so much we don’t know. Even science, which exists as a pursuit of knowledge into uncovering truths and fundamental laws, is only a vehicle to understanding deeper truths, but in itself is not a source of wisdom. 

Wisdom itself is foundational as defined by John Piper is “the factual knowledge and situational insight and the necessary resolve that together succeeds in attaining full and everlasting happiness.” Now while I said earlier that science is only a vehicle or means to knowing more, also wisdom is a means to reaching a goal. Proverbs says that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).” The beginning or start of wisdom is found in our recognition and honor of God. 

1 Corinthians 2:12 says that the Holy Spirit we have received has allowed us to understand these things freely given by God. Paul argues from the greek philosophical premise that like is known only by the like. Essentially, you can assume what someone is thinking but you won’t know unless they tell you. In the same way, the Spirit indwells in us and speaks to us about spiritual truths, leading us into the hidden wisdom and power of God (1 Corinth 2:7). As God is the foundation of wisdom, there are truths we can only know by His Spirit revealing them to us. 

Now, though God reveals to us truths and a new standard of holiness through the Spirit, this has not absolved natural or wordly men from judgment. Ephesians 2:3 says that we were “by nature deserving of wrath.” Though we were deserving of wrath, God’s love has punctured through darkness. By the Holy Spirit, we have been made “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). By the grace of God we receive new minds (Romans 12:2) and the Spirit indwells in us. This is possible by believing in Jesus, in His life, His death, and resurrection that freed us from the shackles of sin. By repenting of our sin and making Him Lord, “the Holy Spirit comes to the believer, filling him or her with the understanding and hope of a future inheritance” (CompellingTruth). God’s ways, judgements, and knowledge are deeper than what we can comprehend by our human understanding (Romans 11:33). 

“Having the mind of Christ gives us insight into the divine qualities of God and allows us to understand more of His heart”

Further, having the mind of Christ gives us insight into the divine qualities of God and allows us to understand more of His heart. The Word is foolishness to someone without the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). This way of thinking describes a materialist or someone who lives as there is nothing beyond this physical life. Having the mind of Christ, we are called to walk in pace with the Spirit. We have a new understanding of the temporal body we have on Earth and the promise that is given through Jesus (Romans 8:18-21). Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) become apparent qualities to us of God. 

Not only this, but also we understand that these qualities (or fruits of the Spirit) display the intended aim that God has for our hearts and minds. True wisdom is found in following God. As our minds are renewed, we understand what it means to love God (1 John 2:15-17, 1 John 5:3-4). We are given new desires that conflict with our human nature, drawing us closer to Holiness and godliness. The Holy Spirit changes our minds to allow us to fully pursue the will of God and produce the fruits of the Spirit. 

My Response to Apathy: Thoughts on the Capitol Riots and Christian Nationalism

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Over a week ago now, the Capitol was attacked by rioters. Watching Trump supporters almost literally walk straight into the Capitol gave me a multitude of emotions: shock, frustration, rage, hopelessness, discouragement. I saw an almost entirely white group of supporters moved to violence and ultimately, people would lose their lives. I saw rioters, many of which were carrying blue lives matter flags or gear, attack the police and be met with little resistance. I felt that the efforts of an almost entirely peaceful movement (BLM, over 90% peaceful protests) are continually met with violence while terrorism is being dealt with with no concern for the people inside the Capitol.

Is this patriotism? Or is this Christian nationalism charged by the inflammatory and false narrative that our democracy is compromised and the election was stolen? Maybe one of the most infuriating things I saw was the flag that read “Jesus Saves.” Where now, political idolatry and evangelicalism seem to be one in the same.

To clarify, I’m not pointing Evangelical Conservative Republicans to follow Democratic policies or vice versa. Nor am I declaring my allegiance with either side. No policy will fully do the work of the Kingdom and we have to realize that. Much of our division as a Church has come from the over reliance on world systems and our lack of reliance on what scripture says. I’ll go into this more later.

If I am honest though, I have been disappointed by the inaction in the Church. I am moved to tears by the American Church’s apathy towards the marginalized. Many in the American Church have turned to idolizing their religious freedom along with political figures who swear to protect it.

Unfortunately, the American Church has a history of this. In the 19th century, slave holders used the Bible and religious freedom to justify slavery. They quoted scripture like Genesis with the “curse of Ham” and verses like Ephesian 6:5 to show that God made black people to be slaves. Then, after the Civil War, politicians, pundits, and even preachers redeveloped a theology that “defended the reconstituted Southern racial order as divinely ordained.” “Separate, but equal” became not just a legal doctrine of constitutional law, but a God ordained statute.

The entanglements of racism and religious freedom have even been found in seminaries. Bob Jones Sr. was a fundamental evangelist who founded a college in 1926 in Panama City, Florida and they would eventually move to Greenville, South Carolina. This college would become known as Bob Jones University. When classes started in 1927, admission was only given to the members of the white race and this would persist until 1971. Even after allowing black students in the university, they didn’t allow interracial marriage. As stated by Jonathan Pait in 1998, a public relations spokesman for the university, “God has separated people for his own purposes. He has erected barriers between the nations, not only land and sea barriers, but also ethnic, cultural, and language barriers. God has made people different from one another and intends those differences to remain. Bob Jones University is opposed to intermarriage of the races because it breaks down the barriers God has established.”

While at the same time that there is spiritual unity in the body by Christ (Ephesians 4), division is apparent among the American Church. We are united spiritually, but separated structurally. I believe that people who fall into the trap of Christian nationalism think that by blindly following their party, they are defending God. That they are standing for truth, love, and righteousness as they break into the Capitol building and “preserve the democracy.” If anything, it seems as though conspiracies and lies have done more to twist truth in our democracy than many politicians ever could.

The unfortunate piece is some American Christians have fallen into the pattern of basing their prejudice toward others off lies, the media and poor exegesis. In the same way, some have launched themselves into a full social “wokeness” that is performative and ignores/degrades the people it is meant to help. My friends, fundamentally we are reading the Bible wrong and not fully expressing God’s love (1 John 4:12). Just as Charles Spurgeon said “Divisions in Churches never begin with those full of love to the Savior.” To use the words of Benjamin Watson “there can never be unity without justice.” Our own personal relationship with God is a result of justice served to Jesus in our place, taking on our sin and making peace with the Father.

Christians should not be tempted into the power of empires and politics, but called into the “saving, serving, sacrificial power of Christ.”

The Jesus of the Bible is not subservient to political parties and worldly power. Instead, He offers His Love which comes through us repenting, giving our lives to Him and loving Him. Christians should not be tempted into the power of empires and politics, but called into the “saving, serving, sacrificial power of Christ.” When our own allegiance to a world power ignores the disenfranchised and marginalized, we have crossed over from patriotism into idolatry. For example, many Christians rightly speak up against abortion (Proverbs 31:8-9). As we should, but we should also provide resources to women who feel, from their economic circumstance or emotional/mental instability, their only option to be aborting a life.

Have people in the Church been so focused on religious dedication that they’ve actually pulled further away from the Word of God? I would go so far as to say that the “fasting and praying” that many do to hear God’s voice is not accepted by Him. That people in the Church go to Church and sing worship songs while simultaneously ignoring the immigrant, the poor, and the oppressed.

This leads us to a very important passage in Isaiah portraying God’s heart and His justice. Isaiah 58:6-9 says ““Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness”.

‬‬This whole passage reveals the true motives of these Israelites: their fast is only to appear Holy while actually ignoring God’s commands. Fasting draws us closer to God and lets a fleshly need be fulfilled by the Holy Spirit. The word used in verse 8 is aruwkah (healing) which literally means wholeness. By Christ Jesus we are united, but as the Body of Christ, we haven’t loved each other like we are. We don’t bear each other’s burdens like we should (Galatians 6:2). Instead, it’s easier to attach ourselves to a side and conspiracies than to actually listen to our brother/sister struggling. The pains of hate, and racism have not just been enabled by the American Church, but they’ve been perpetrated by it. I contend that for too long the people of the church have “fasted” to God, but have ignored seeking His Heart. Some earnestly seek God, but at the same time fight and quarrel with members of the body who call for active faith.

Wholeness is found in abiding in the heart of God. His heart is with those who are weak and we are called to serve them.

You will never be made whole by ignoring the oppressed, the poor, the hungry, the slave, or the marginalized. Wholeness is found in abiding in the love of God (John 15:10-11). His heart is with those who are weak and we are called to serve them. God’s blessings (peace, restoration, fullness) come forth in our obedience to His call for us to act in tzedeqah, or primary justice which outpours from our relationship with God and makes right all relationships in our world.

God continually, without ceasing, guides us as we pour out ourselves for the marginalized. As we seek to pour ourselves out for others something amazing happens: God fills us (Matthew 5:6). The reward for giving, loving, and showing mercy to our neighbor is not a political victory, but is wholeness. In verse 9 it says that if we take away “the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness” God will make our “gloom be as the noonday” and makes us like a “spring of water.” This is the fast that these Republicans of the Church should seek as well as Democrats: To love their neighbors and come to a deeper understanding of the heart of God. Did Jesus identify with the powerful, or did He choose to be counted with the weak?

I write as I myself am guilty of apathy. I find myself trying to ignore all the darkness in the world and just focus on my own walk. Racism, slavery, poverty, and abuse of power are still rampant even in a post-Christian culture. The thing is God continually points me back to being a light in darkness and putting His love in me into action. We can’t be apathetic to those in need. “When we reject apathy, we make room for something else. We align ourselves with the life-giving mission of Christ. We pair our unique passions with the work God is already doing through His Church.”(Kelli B. Trujillo)

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There is something so sweet about gifts. When we receive them, we feel loved, appreciated, and seen. When we give them, we feel a sense of satisfaction as we share our love not just in words, but in actions. The person receiving the gift may never reciprocate the same type of love and they can even reject the gift. That is the beauty of gifts though: they are free both ways. Neither side has to give or receive the gift. It is done freely.

Reading through Romans 3:21-24 there is a transition from the judgement that comes through sin to the justification that comes through grace. The standard of Holiness is shown through the law. The law is not meant to be a burden, but rather to reveal our sinfulness and need for God (Romans 3:20).

Despite the holiness of the law, the law itself can not justify us and brings us into righteousness. In Psalms 14, David writes that “there is no one who does good, not even one.” The Psalm shows us that we don’t seek the Lord by ourselves. By our very nature, we reject the Lord and turn the other direction. God seeks after us because we ourselves won’t without His help.

God is loving, but He is also just. Psalm 7:11 reveals to us that God is just and angry at us because of sin. Sin itself destroys and defiles the good God has made in the world. It turns our hearts away from the perfect purposes of God. In Leviticus, God dwells literally in the middle of the Israelite community. As sin enters in the community, it will also reach and defile the temple of God.

Israelites are still sinful, just as we are, so they need a covering or atonement for their sins. This covering came through sacrifices, which were meant to be a symbol of life and death from righteousness and sin (Bible Project). It also was shown to be a substitute for their impurities. God is Holy and without fault. By that standard, anyone who breaks away from righteousness because of sin is disqualified from the blessings that come from the Lord.

Thankfully, God is not only just, but He is also loving. God in His grace gave the Israelites a way to continue to enter into His presence and atone for their sins. Now, God in His grace gives us the opportunity to literally carry His presence and live in relationship with Him (1 Corinth 6:19). How is this possible? Romans 3:23-24 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

There are three themes in salvation: justification, redemption, and atonement. David Guzik says in his commentary of Romans, “Justification solves the problem of man’s guilt before a righteous Judge. Redemption solves the problem of man’s slavery to sin, the world, and the devil. Propitiation solves the problem of offending our Creator.”

Looking specifically at justification, it is a legal term that shows the demands of justice have been satisfied therefore, there is no basis for condemnation. Romans 3:20 shows us that “by the works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight.” Essentially, being a good person is not enough for us to make it into Heaven.

The beauty in verse 24 is found in the word freely. Freely used in Greek is dorean meaning truly free and not just “cheap.” This means there is nothing in us that is worthy of being justified. All the reasons lie in God’s grace, that He would freely send Jesus to die for us, acting as a sacrifice by taking on the penalty of our sins, so that we could have eternal life and peace with Him. Now we are not counted unholy, but holy and not wicked, but righteous. Not because of our actions or anything, but because God loves us enough to give the gift of life. Freely God gives to us salvation and freely we can receive it.

God All Around Us

Look up. The clouds move ever so slowly and the waters of the sky stand still. The cloud and skies come together in a beautiful symphony of colors and shapes: blue, yellow, purple, small, large and wide. The Sun shines down mighty beams of light that blind even the strongest of eyes. Look closely. Every color comes together, meets, and stops at a specific point. They collide and transform into a magnificent design that no human mind could imagine on its own. Darkness comes. The stars, light years away, still fill the night sky with compelling, but eloquent light.

Staring at the eternity that exists in our universe, you can’t help thinking about your own significance. Eternity is in each of our hearts and our heart evokes us to seek the meaning of our life. “Within the vastness of the universe, where do I find my purpose?” The heavens and skies in their glory draw us closer to our purpose. Our purpose that is found in the Creator of this masterpiece which is our world. 

I have found myself at times struggling to understand the mysteries of God. I struggle with His will and how ultimately it will all come together for good. My thought is does every man have an opportunity to know Jesus and ultimately receive eternal life by believing on Christ? Many atheist and Christian thinkers alike have struggled with this question as in “If God is so loving and just, then what about those living in places where they won’t hear the Gospel? People die without hearing about Jesus or within their country, Christianity itself is outlawed. How will these people be saved?”

David constantly throughout Psalm 19 writes poetically of the glory of God revealed in nature. 

Verse 1 and 2 say “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” 

He beautifully declares that the attributes and characteristics of nature characterize the wisdom, knowledge, glory, and sovereignty of God. 

Verse three and four go on to say “They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.” (Psalm 19:3-4) The Hebrew word used for “voice” is qav. This means a measuring line. Essentially, the skies do not literally speak to us by sound or voice, but the workmanship of God is revealed by lines and shapes that go across the sky and earth.

Without speaking or saying one word, their “words” go out to the ends of the earth and declare the existence of a Creator. 

Each line and each detail purposeful and intentional. The sky itself is held together by God that in Him and through Him the world has form. 

Colossians 1:17 says “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” 

The craftsmanship of God can also be found in each one of us as well. Evil is easy to find in our world today which leads to some either blaming God or claiming that evil existing in our world proves there is no God.

My friends this is not so! How do we even define what evil is? From where do we reference what is evil and good? It’s like asking the question how do we know that a straight line is not a curved line? Each person (whether they want to admit it or not) inherently follows moral objective law that narrows their behavior separating their actions evil from good. The existence of evil doesn’t point us away from God, but rather further proves the existence of a law-giver. Our design and nature point us towards the reality of a Creator. Without His Natural law placed in us, the lines of good and evil would blur and exist to us in similarity.

Without a law, all things fall apart. For example, some argue that not as many miracles happen in this day and age. It’s easy to find ourselves looking for miracles when our culture is looking for a sign that God exists. God, though, does not want us to look for “signs”, but to know the sign of Jonah which is that Jesus came to Earth, died becoming the propitiation for our sins, and rose again on the third day freeing us from sin and death. Within that promise lies where we place our hope.

Besides, miracles exist all around us! When we go for a drive in our car, how are we sure that the car will not start flying into the air? When we walk to the park, how can we be so sure the earth won’t open up and swallow us whole? How are we so sure that most of the time, the world will hold itself together? It’s because we have an understanding that the world is held in place. We know that the laws of nature won’t be broken to where things fall into chaos. 

Like a carpenter putting together a table, the workmanship is held together because of the intentional design. And why? Because the intentional design is held together by the creator.

The Lord in His intentions, by His love, grace, and wisdom, is faithful to reveal Himself to those who seek Him even if they seek Him without knowing what it is they are truly seeking after. God knows we all are seeking wholeness because He created us that way. He placed eternity in the hearts of us all (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He seeks us out so we can have a true love relationship with Him. Then, in coming into relationship with Him, we abide in His infinite love and our joy is made complete (John 15:9-11). 

He reveals Himself through Jesus, but also He wishes that each of us would just look up and then, look closely. He reveals Himself also by the skies and heavens above us. So not only so we would only know the masterpiece that is our universe, but also that we will know the Master who has pieced us together beautifully.