On the bright, chilly morning of October 9, 2016, I preached at First Baptist Church Bellefonte, AR. My text was 1 John 2:1-2. Bellefonte is a few miles south of Harrison. If you don’t know much about Harrison, I recommend utilizing these embedded links.
Basically, Harrison is a major hub for racism.
No 22 year old, hard-headed, Paul Washer disciple is going to fear running up to a pulpit in Harrison, AR and laying down the hammer down against racism.
Little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
My goal was to make a bee-line for verse 2b. “Christ has purchased for Himself a bride from every tribe and tongue. Therefore, when you are prejudice against a particular ethnicity, you are literally opposing the blood of Christ.” It’ll preach!
The adrenaline was vamped by monetary contributions from two friends. I didn’t have enough money to make the trip, so they graciously funded the venture. And Oh, was I a 21st century Paul! One of the Blues Brothers, “on a mission from God.” The whitewashed town would have “PROPHESIED” stamped on its forehead by noon.
Those “You are not you when you are hungry” Snickers commercials could definitely apply here, if you switch chocolate with the Gospel. When I’m “Gospel hungry,” apparently I act a lot like Steven Anderson. Blagh.
It was the text itself that broke me down. My ambition was to see those double faced, probably-affiliated-with-the-KKK white-folk squirm under the truth. But when I put my head into 1 John and beheld Christ’s effective mediation on behalf of His people, I couldn’t help but slunk low in shame. I had been acting like Jonah in Nineveh. I was about to post-up in the shade and enjoy a good ‘ole re-run of “Sodom and Gomorrah.”
My heart couldn’t bear to stare Christ in the face and carry on with such an attitude. So that’s when the sermon title changed to “Christ Our Advocate.” Driving up to the church that Sunday morning, my game plan had officially changed: “Make a bee-line for the cross” (Spurgeon would have been proud).
No sooner had I walked through the doors, my decision was vindicated. Never in my life have I met such kind and friendly people. There were no more than 30 in attendance, but every single blessed one was singing “To God Be the Glory.” When I mounted the pulpit, I counted at least three distinct ethnicities present in the crowd. I exalted Christ for 35 minutes and there was hardly a dry-eye in the room.
No no, not because of my preaching – it was because of Who was being preached. This truly was a regenerate congregation. Here, on the outskirts of Nineveh, was the body of Christ. And I had planned on pummelling them. I learned several things on October 9, 2016 – mainly how to obey John 21:15-17. “Tend My lambs,” Jesus said.
The bride of Christ loves her bridegroom. She is compelled to holiness simply by gazing upon His glory. If you want to help the church, stop yelling at her and starting preaching the gospel.
I call this The Steven Anderson Principle. “If you haven’t wept for them, don’t point at them.”