Color Me Love

Charles Ware March 13, 2016 John 13:1-35

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The time has come for us to judge one another by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin. 

I. The context of the text – John 13:1-30

a. Jesus washing the disciples’ feet – John 13:1-17

b. Jesus predicts his betrayal - John 13:18-33

II. Love is a divine commandment - John 13:31-34

III. Love has a divine standard - John 13:31-34

IV. Love is an identifying mark of disciples – John 13:35

V. How then shall we live? 

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It is a privilege to be here at Faith again and share our fellowship with you and appreciate pastor Steve and his leadership. We will have a table for Crossroads Bible College back there. David, are you here yet? You're here? Oh, there you are. Dave will be at that table, be able to serve you there. Delighted to be here, delighted the subject that we're speaking on. I told Steve, "I'm going to use your church to make history for me." The most points I've had in a sermon, I preached one sermon with nineteen points. What I'm going to do for you is give you not the typical three points and a poem, but I'm going to give you four points and fifteen applications. All right, get it on early this morning, and I'm going to get done in time. That's what you're really interested in. I know what you're interested in. Have no fear, we are delighted to be here, delighted by what God is doing.

As I think about the topic this morning, some of you are probably aware, maybe others aren't, a lady by the name of Rachel, thirty-seven-year-old former president of the NAACP, National Advancement for Colored People. An officer spoke in Washington, she claimed to be black until her parents came up and said, "We're Caucasian, both of us. She ain't black! If there's anything in our blood there may be some Native Americans, but there's nothing black!" She lost her job. Oh, boy. You know, when we think about the whole race thing you and I have a challenge that I think about so often. When it comes to race, what exactly are we talking about anyway? I mean, biologically what are you talking about? As Christians we all believe that we all came from Adam, right? Adam and Eve. You got to go all the way back and the human genome pool research says the same thing. We all started from a common ancestor, but yet our nation is so divided on this whole idea of race.

In fact, I have a statement I've made in a book. It says, "We believe the evangelical church must be committed to building a biblical world view in all things including race relations and injustice. To do so we will need to work on multiple levels, personal, moral, and institutional, to truly offer a holistic answer to the complexities of a racialized culture. Ironically, the discipline of inter-ethnic studies and ministry is just emerging in our conservative evangelical circles. Resources are still developing and tested. We yet have much to learn from each other. Now, as you think about this thing about race one of these things I like to ask you, do you know why the president of the United States, President Barack Obama, is called black or African American? I mean, his mother was white. Why would he be called an African American or black?

Well, let me tell you. That was called a one-drop-of-blood rule. I'm going to read a little bit about it. The one drop rule, assigning minority status, that's an important word, to mixed-race individuals appears to live on in our modern day perception and characterization of people like Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, and Halle Berry. That one-drop rule, it's a legal rule. One drop of blood makes you black. I want to read something about here, this is from a study at Harvard and a Harvard staff writer had to write because you got a one black ... When was that? 1662. You say, "Well, that's gone." Listen at this, one of the remarkable things about our research of  hypodescent, that's the educated word for the one-drop blood rule, is what it tells us about the hierarchical nature of race relations in the US.

It says, "There work reflects the cultural entrenchment of America's traditional racial hierarchy, which assigns the highest status to whites, followed by Asians, with Latinos and blacks at the bottom." They said this research appeared in the journal of a personality and social psychology. Here's what they're basically saying, here's what you and I got to deal with as Christians. I submit to you that the issue in America is not a race issue but a cultural issue. Race is a cultural construct. If you are a human being we are related. There is one race of people, and beyond that you and I need to deal with the fact that there is one problem for all people, the ultimate problem is sin. Then even beyond that, you and I as believers need to deal with the fact that there's one race, there's one problem, it's sin. There is one solution, his name is Jesus Christ.

You and I as believers need to understand, as I shared with us earlier, if we're not saved we're in a group called Gentiles. In the Bible there's Gentiles and Jews, but when we get saved we are one body in Christ. Our cultures may be different, our upbringing may be different, our education may be different, our educational status may be different, our gender, our nationality may be different, but bless God when we are saved, when we are born again we are family. We need to let a watching world see and know what that means. In an article, there will be copies that'll be on Dave's table out there for the college, you can buy it for $5, but I wrote an article together with a white professor, founder of our school who's now at Summit University. After Ferguson we wrote an article titled "Ferguson: How Should A Church Respond?"

Reading a statement from that it says, "We are convinced that Christ and the biblical Gospel are sufficient to resolve the pressing issues of our day. A truly Christ-exalting, Gospel-centered approach to ethnic relations with stress God's grace more than man's proposed remedies. Pointing people to the cross, we firmly believe it is crucial that the church pursue grace relations rather than race relations. Grace offers a healthy foundation for dealing with the sins of the past as well as the alienation of the present. Grace relations are built upon forgiveness and the intentional pursuit of peace, trust, unity, and loving relationships because of Christ. The church must move beyond society's blame and shame game. The anger, distrust, and polarization of such a philosophy are very apparent today, but it need not remain so."

I've entitled my talk today "Color Me Love." What color am I? Take a second look. Get a little deeper than the skin. Color me love. The time is come for us to judge one another by the content of our character rather than the color of our skin. Martin Luther King dreamed of such a day. Love is an attribute of Christ from within, beneath the skin that motivates Christians to seek reconciliation, sacrifice for reconciliation, and desire life for the reconciled. One of the things you and I need to keep in mind, we're not just interested in tolerance. I don't want to tolerate people. We're interested in a life relationship for eternity. That's what Christ does for us. He brings us together. What I wanted you to think about, I got a little [inaudible 00:09:05]. I put on this talk that helps me as I try to screen people.

One of the deals is what is a racist to me, if you're going to use that term? A racist to me is a hardcore person no matter how much data they get, no matter how much you say to them, no matter who they meet, they still believe they are superior by virtue of their race or ethnic identity or whatever it is than other people. You can't convince them otherwise except the Gospel saves them. I don't think I meet too many of those people these days. Then there are what I call position people. That's people who believe the Bible teaches segregation, so on and so forth, and since the Bible teaches I'm going to believe and I'm going to stick with it, especially when it comes in a racial manner. We know the Bible says that sin, so they say.

Perplexed people, these are parents usually. "I just don't want my kid to get hurt. You see all these people, they're mad, they're angry, I don't want my little baby to get hurt," and so they don't know what to do. They're trying to protect their kids and they perplexed on what's going on. I think that most of the people we deal with and what I want to focus on today is what I called prejudiced people. Prejudiced people are pre-judge. You pre-judge people you don't know. You pre-judge situations you don't understand, but my belief is simply this that prejudiced people, if you inform them correctly and brought them in the right relationships, they'll change. That's my presupposition that I'm working on.

The book of John is where we're going to take our primary text from. I'm just going to, because of time, get to my fifteen applications. We're going to talk about the context.

I. The context of the text – John 13:1-30

This is an exciting chapter to me when it comes to love because Jesus Christ is at The Last Supper, he's with his twelve disciples, and I'm thinking about as Jesus Christ is in this in verses 1-17, he's washing their feet and I'm asking myself, "Washing their feet? You got to be kidding me! You're washing their feet when you know every one of them will defect?" Would you think of having a church meeting and I look out there and I say, "Every one of y'all is going to leave me." What do you think I'm going to talk to you about? I'm not washing your feet, I'll tell you that. We'll have a business meeting if you know what I mean.

All y'all going to leave, but he knew that. Then beyond that the Bible says down here that he knew his time has come, but he also knew who would betray him. Verses 18-30 talked about being betrayed and Judas was sitting in there. I don't know, but in my human nature, in my flesh, if I'm looking at my church group and we're having a business meeting and I know that you're getting ready, you're getting ready to go sell me out, you're getting ready for some money, you're getting ready to set me up, I've got a word for you. This is Jesus' team. In this context, though, the Bible says in John chapter 13 and starting at verse 31, Jesus says to this group, so when he had gone out Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and glorify him immediately Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer.

"You will seek me and as I said to the Jews where I'm going you cannot go, so now I say to you. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another as I have loved you that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you're my disciples in that you have love one for another." I don't know about you, but to me, given that context, that's a powerful statement.

II. Love is a divine commandment - John 13:31-34

What I want you to note about this is the first point here is that love is a divine command. Jesus said that this is a commandment. Here's what this reconciliation thing I want you to keep in mind. Christ does not command a change in your ethnicity, nationality, gender, or color of your skin, but he does command all disciples to love one another. The reason I say color me love and I love Jesus gives us a new commandment, that you love one another.

He didn't say all of you have to be Jews. We don't think everybody has to be black, everybody has to be white, everybody has to be suburban, everybody has to be urban, everybody has to be male, everybody has to be female. No, no, no. The command is that you love one another and we can all get a hold of that. I'm so glad Christ didn't command me to change. I think that girl had something. She wanted to be black at least if she wasn't black, but black is beautiful. I ain't got no problem with it. Go on, girl. I'm with you. Notice a new commandment, that you love one another.

III. Love has a divine standard - John 13:31-34

Then a second point he says love has a divine standard, "As I have loved you love one another." The power of Christ's example is not his ethnicity, his nationality, his gender, or his color, but his character, and his character is marked by love. When you see Christ what do you see?

I remember once we had a ministry and this guy, he looked something like the TV image of Jesus. Got a thin face, he grew a little beard, and he was walking around and was like, "People tell me I look like Jesus." I say, "What do they see? You didn't try to live like Jesus, boy." Besides, he was white. He wasn't even Jewish. The standard, what is it you and I are going towards? We're going towards to be like Christ. How? Not wearing sandals, not wearing a beard, but his love. That's the standard.

IV. Love is an identifying mark of disciples – John 13:35

Then I want you to note that in this context also the Bible says love is an identifying mark of a true believer. Love, rather than one's ethnicity, nationality, gender, or color, is to be an identifying mark of a disciple. By this shall all men know that you are my disciple. By what? By the cross I put on my nape? By the [angel 00:15:30] in front of my church? By my ethnicity? No, no, no. By this. By what? Your love one for another.

One of the greatest marketing piece for Faith Church is not your brochures, not your sign, it's your love. By this shall all men know that you're my disciples in that you have love one for another. That same love that was in Christ should be in us. How then should we live? Most of you around Faith says, "I know that. Christ came. He died for our sins. Our preachers teach that all the time. We are one body. We know the Bible around here." That's unusual these days, but praise God that you do. All attention going on around us, the hatred, the intolerance, the lack of ability to have a sane conversation. What are we going to do about it? How are we going to respond? In this article we've got seventeen things that we said that we can do. I'm going to work my way through these and encourage you and encourage myself.

V. How then shall we live?

I believe that I'm saved by the grace of God. I believe that I've given my life to Christ unconditionally. I believe I want to live for the glory of God. I believe I want to do the will of God. How does that affect my relationships with one another in the church and in my community? First thing we want to challenge you with is pray sensitively. Ephesians 3:14-21, I want to turn there but you can look that up. He's praying that they might understand the height, breadth, length, and depth of the love of Christ. Let me tell you, one of the first things you and I need to pray for is that you would understand what it means to be loved by Christ. Some of our divisions is because we're fighting for our own significance. We're fighting to make ourselves look good. Listen, you are blessed by the best, don't worry about the rest. You're in Christ, beloved. You have been loved with the love of Christ and the same love that he loved you with he wants you to love others with.

What you and I need to get down, some of the reasons our relationships are so dysfunctional is because we're fighting to prove ourselves and make ourselves acceptable to other people or defend ourselves. You don't need to do that. No, what you and I need to do is drink at the well of the love of God and be overcome of his great love for us. I'm not trying to prove myself to anybody. I'm so happy that Christ loves me. I am accepted in him. That gives me the freedom to love others, but you need to understand that love for yourself so you need to pray and ask God to help you understand that. Secondly, we need to model repentance. In the book of James, James 1, it said, "Do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons." That is the sin. We call it racism, what the Bible talks about is respect of persons. In that context it's rich and poor, but we violate the second commandment accord to James chapter 2 when we don't love people.

Respect of persons is a lack of love. Putting people on hierarchies because of their position or education or ethnicity, their gender, whatever it is, that is respect of persons and it's unloving. You and I need to search our own hearts. It's great to talk about other people. We need to search our own hearts. It's great to talk about other people. We need to search our own hearts. I want to tell you, when you live in a culture as racialized as ours and you get all these perceptions and you get all these stereotypes and you get all this media, I want to tell you, it is not unhuman. It is very human to develop stereotypes. I hear a lot of white people ... Man, I look at news all the time. Black people, they just killing people, man. [inaudible 00:19:44] shot somebody! I drive down there, I lock my door. I tell people, "When I drive the car I'm going to lock my doors."

When I watch television and news, probably 90-something-percent of people who are abusing children sexually on the news are white. Yeah, I have a perception too. You know, you and I, we got to check our hearts. The love of Christ, it's a sinful thing to say all white people, all black people, all Asian people, all urban people, all, all, all. The only thing I use the word all about is that all have sinned, but you and I got to check our hearts that these preconceived ideas we get locks us out from people. We form views of them and we separate from them and we argue with them. When we see them on TV or we see them make a statement, we color it by everything else we have in our stereotypes about them. We need to get rid of that sin. We need to read James 3:13-18 about the wisdom from above and we need to get a hold of that as peaceable, easily being treated.

Third, give hope. We were just spoken to about Ephesians 2. He's taking Jew and Gentile and [inaudible 00:21:19] together and he's made us one, so there is hope. I'm standing before you as hope. I was born in a segregated community in Florida before Disney world got down there and I tell you, I had my attitude towards white people. Then when I got to like white people the [clan 00:21:38] was a different story. I remember preaching one time with a sermon sort of like this and standing, and this big white guy come up about three hundred pound and he waits to shake my hand and he said, "Brother, I was a member of the Klu Klux Klan. I'm saved now. Hug me!" I got all I could around him. He was three hundred pounds, I couldn't get around, but I did and I thought, "I hope you don't backslide before I get out of here." You know backsliders go back to old nature, but no!

Christ will bring us together. There's hope for people who misunderstand, hope for people who are alienated, hope for people arguing, distrustful. There is hope. His name is Jesus Christ. Then we need to preach the word. You got a church that preach the word. In fact, I often challenge people, you've got Ephesians 4:1-7 talking about unity that's part of the hope, but Ephesians 4:11-16, pastors and teachers are there for the equipping of a body. Do you know that that's in the context of Jew and Gentile being one? They're growing in their relationship because sound preaching from the Word of God is challenging people to confess their sin, to seek reconciliation with people they'd rather not talk about. The Word of God is a guide for us and it drives us towards biblical reconciliation that needs to be preached and taught.

Five, we need to care for the poor and disadvantaged. Matthew 19:35 and 36, we aren't just concerned about people who can do us good. We're concerned about people to whom we can do good. The love of Christ motivates us to that. When I got saved and I went to college here. We got involved with the church [plant 00:23:26] down a part of the city. It was just known for prostitution and drugs. In fact, I went down there, one guy, met him on the street, he said, "What are you doing?" I said, "I'm here to start a church." He laughed and he said, "Ha! You're on the wrong side of town." I said, "No, I'm just where I ought to be because the love of Christ motivates us to care for the poor and the disadvantaged." Number five, practice inclusive all-nation ministry. Matthew 28 verses 19-20 we're told to go ye therefore and make disciples of all ethnic groups. [Pontar 00:24:01], ethnic, every people group

We're not discriminatory. We got a Gospel that saves and we want people saved. When they get saved we want to embrace them as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to look around. People tell me all the time, white folk tell me, "Well, brother, I'm glad you got schooling, you've done your thing because I can't reach black people." I can't reach them either. The Gospel reaches them. We preach the Gospel and God saves. You and I need to be motivated. The love of Christ may break their heart. The people, men and women and boys and girls without Christ, regardless of their nationality, ethnic, they are going to hell without Christ. May God motivate us to go seek them out. We need to have an all-inclusiveness. Our church is for anyone, everyone who will repent of their sins and come to Christ.

Number seven, we need to build ethnic relationships. I Corinthians 9:19-23, Paul talks about becoming all things to all men in order that he might win some. One of the things you and I need to learn that we need to be intentional. Go where people are, build relationships, open your ears for a while, listen to them, learn of them, hear their hurts, hear their frustrations, find out what is their cause of their anger. Then minister to them. That's the love of Christ. We want those relationships. [On a bit 00:25:37] of those relationships, number eight, pursue justice. There's a lot of injustice in our society and we experience it all the time. A lot of it is because people of power use that power to treat people without power unjustly. You and I should stand for that. We have an opportunity to speak up, speak out, and we need to do it for the glory of God.

Then we need to explore urban, suburban partnerships. Right in this church Pastor Viars has made the statement that I love. He says about your partnerships or your ministry to your community. He says, "We do it to give those around us a better understanding of the character of God." That's great. To follow Christ's example of incarnational ministry to those who are hurting, to faithfully obey the second great commandment, love your neighbor as yourself, to better function as an effective biblical church. That's it right there. In Indianapolis we got think, "Oh, city, mosaic, suburban, and urban churches coming together to address the needs of our city. That's awesome." Number ten, cultivate gentleness and respect. Romans 13:1-10 talks about submission to the government and talks about owing no man anything but to love them because if we love them we won't commit adultery and we won't steal and we do a whole lot of things because of the love of God.

One of the things that keeps us so separated is the lack of respect. I tell some black brothers and sisters, "You're calling every white person a racist? They got to take that to have a conversation with you?" Then white people, you say every black person votes for Hillary? They don't know the Bible, they don't know right? Our country is so divided in itself. Presidential race, one of the things about president's race right now is the disrespect and immaturity that some of the candidates have manifested. We do the same things some times in our personal relationships and we don't do it upfront. In our private conversations we do, the way we talk about people. No, no, no. There needs to be a gentleman. There needs to be respect. There needs to be a sense of I want to understand you, I want to respect. I may disagree with you, but love tells me even though I disagree with you I don't have to disagreeable. I can listen. I can learn, and I can address you properly.

Gentleness and respect. Love and support urban church planning, those churches that want to do a preview of heaven. They want that Revelations 5:8-10, 7 and 9. Heaven will be made up of people from every tribe, every language, and every nation, which you and I on planet earth are doing. We're trying to give them a little preview. We want a trailer. Put this trailer on and find out why this thing ends. Makes you want to see the real show. You and I need to support ministries that manifest what heaven's going to be like. Encourage them, support them, pray for them. I've often said to people the greatest argument we'll have in this culture will not be our mouth but our life. We need to demonstrate that we can get along together because of Christ.

Number twelve, use social media. We can get so many things out on social media right now, but let me tell you one thing. One of the disheartening things is that many Christians put stuff on social media that is a disgrace to God, dishonors God, dishonors Christ. Lovingly we should put things out there about you working together, show me some solutions, speak respectfully, speak wisely, speak compassionately. Put it out there. Let them see Jesus in action through your life and your relationships. That doesn't cost you anything, but I'm afraid it costs the church a lot because a lot of the people who put stuff out there is disrespectful to God and other people. It's not loving. We need to use this thing. We need to model the message. I love Crossroads Bible College, you see, we got Asian female professor, got an Assyrian male professor, African American professor, white professor. Burmese community is coming into our college right now.

I love it and I can tell people I'm not just talking the game, I'm living the game. My administrator assistant, it was her husband that you saw in the video that was a volunteer IMPD chaplain. He's now going to be paid physician, so he's leaving us for that. Then she's taking over Latino community relations. She's my assistant. Both Latinos speaking Spanish in my office no less. I told them, "One of these days I'll figure out what you're saying now. When you're talking about me I'll tell you." You know there are Americans who'll say to somebody, "You're in America. You don't speak Spanish. You speak English." Come on, get a life. You need to stretch your life a little bit. Most people in the world speak two or three languages, only in America we can only speak one. I can speak English and [inaudible 00:32:07] and Pig Latin, so I got three.

No, but for real, we need to celebrate differently. Thank God that he's created us multilingual, multi-ethnic, and we need to love one another. By the way, when you have trouble listening to others, you just remember what Christ did for you. If Christ held you to the standard you'd die and be in hell, right? He sought us out. He was patient with us. He died for us. Use social media then develop ethnic leadership. We need to be working towards, praying for, and supporting God's sovereign and saving people of different ethnic backgrounds, gifting them with leadership. Those in positions, when they're able to help, train them up, get them up, and get them out because love unites us and the Bible guides us, and of course our ethnic differences.

Number fourteen, provide inclusive platforms. These relationships, I love what faith does. Connecting with your community, connecting with other ministries. It's awesome. Just let me say this. There's a lot of talk about white privilege. In fact, I had a young lady who adopted two African boys who were black and I spoke, she came. She was crying, she was weeping. She said, "I spent all day repenting of my white privilege." I said, "What are you repenting of?" She privileges influence. Maybe you are in a position of influence in this country, maybe you are, but to be there is not sin. Sin is when you abuse it and misuse it. We need people privilege to use that influence to open doors for other people to bring them into that. Right? I thank God there was a Joseph and a Daniel that got in places of influence to help the people of God.

I do not repent of influence unless I use it unjustly. What I want to say is we need to use our platforms by love, realizing that God has made us interdependent, not independent, and so we want to come together. Then, believe it or not, number fifteen. I still got four minutes and forty-five seconds. We need to change our language. As I [saw 00:35:24] with race, what is that anyway? The modern concept of race and racial distinctions are either recent social constructs which arose out of the eighteenth century anthropology and Darwinian evolution, says Colin Kidd. We do better talking about people groups and cultural groups. I don't know whether you noticed it or not, but people from one color does not fit in all those culture groups.

Blacks who grew up in Harlem have a different cultural experience than blacks who grew up in a suburb in Boston. Whites who grew up on a farm have a different cultural background than whites who grew up in a city. Where are we getting this all and them and us stuff? All white people don't get along. All black people don't get along. All Asian people don't get along. Listen, color me love. May I get so drenched in the love of Christ? May I get so captivated that my identity is not my color, not my nationality, but my identity is the fact that I am one with Christ and I'm secure in that and may that fact causes me to be freed up to put myself at risk, to take the risk of going to other people. Risk rejection [inaudible 00:37:01], risk being called names, risk being rejected, after all, that's where love got Jesus. It got him to the cross.

He hung there not because of sins that he had done, but sins that we had done. His sin did not hold him on the cross, his love held him on the cross. It was love that brought him down here. It was love that brought him into a bad neighborhood. You may think my neighborhood is cool, but next to heaven you are the projects my friend. He came down here, lived amongst you, sought you out, died for you, buried, rose again, and what he's saying to you and saying to me, reconcile. Come together. Not because of who you are, because of who I am. Bless God. Amen.

Charles Ware