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Seeing Race Through Jesus' Eyes (Part 1 of 2)

Air Date 07/28/2016

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In this powerful message, Dr. Tony Evans uses biblical illustrations to explain God’s view of race and how Christians should respond to racial issues, such as those that have been playing out in our society in recent days. (Part 1 of 2)

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Episode Transcript

Opening:

John Fuller: Today on "Focus on the Family," Dr. Tony Evans offers biblical perspectives about the racial unrest that we're seeing in our communities.

Teaser:

Dr. Tony Evans:Your identity first is not in your culture, your class, your background and your history. Your identity first is in your Christ and in your Christian commitment. (Applause)

End of Teaser

John: More of this timely powerful message from Dr. Evans on "Focus on the Family" with your host, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, this is a timely message from Dr. Evans, who spoke about a biblical view of race at his church there in the Dallas area, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. And it was just a couple of Sundays ago and already on the website, they've had hundreds of thousands of downloads of that message. Even The Washington Post pointed to it. So, this is a message that has struck a nerve and I think it's because Tony is speaking truth, directly, maybe some might think provocatively, but it is just bold and straightforward. So, let's dive right into it, John and not delay getting to his content.

John: Okay, here's Dr. Tony Evans on today's "Focus on the Family."

Body:

Tony: Every four years there are the Olympics where the elite athletes of the world come together to compete, aspiring ultimately for the gold medal; the ultimate recognition of their superiority. However, when the gold medalist stands on the platform to receive the gold medal, they do not ask him or her, what's their favorite song. They play the national anthem of the country of which they are a part with their flag flying high, because it's understood while that athlete used their talents and their skills and efforts and their hard work, they represent a bigger country. They represent a bigger kingdom. It's not just about them. It includes them; it utilizes them, but it's bigger than them. And so they want it to be made clear that they did this under the banner and under the flag of the kingdom that they represent.

God has a kingdom. It's made up of citizens, some black, some white, some red, yellow, Spanish backgrounds. And His intention was never that their individual uniquenesses would ever cause them to lose sight of the flag flying over them--the flag of the cross and the flag of our commitment to Christ.

America in particular is reaching an all-time low in this issue of race and culture and class. This sinful, evil disease of racism, culturalism and classism is too deep for over-the-counter remedies. Radical surgery is needed.

So as clearly as I know how, I would like to spend my time with you this morning to as specifically as possible address this issue of race, of culture, of class that has been muddied by a million different voices.

We've got voices about which life matters. All life is created in the image of God, therefore, all lives matter. However (Applause), underneath the banner that God has created all people in His image, there are equities that must be addressed. For example, the life of the unborn matters and so, there is this emphasis on injustice in the womb. But that injustice in the womb must be under the umbrella that, that is life and because all lives matter, that life matters.

Black lives matter as a subset of all lives matter. So, any injustices to a particular group must be addressed specific to that group but under that banner that all life is created in the image of God. (Applause) And so, on and so forth. But once you extract any specific scenario and remove it from the umbrella of God's creation you create your own independent cause.

So I'm going to seek today to give you God's view of race, so that when you leave here you have a better view of you and you have a helpful understanding, bibliocentrically of how to help others to look at this from God's point of view.

Now, let's make it clear if people do not start with God they're not gonna stay with you. So, we're gonna make that clear. If they reject that, they will reject you, but the Bible says that is to be expected, that if they rejected Me they're going to reject you if you bring Him into the equation. But what He does not want you to do is leave Him out just 'cause they don't bring Him in. (Applause)

So I must speak to this issue from a theocentric, Christocentric and bibliocentric perspective--God, Christ and Scripture. In John Chapter 4 we have a definitive statement on this issue coming out of an event that took place in Jesus' life. Jesus has become popular. But Jesus is not yet ready to make His full public declaration of who He is--the Eternal Son of God. And so, He leaves Judea and goes to Galilee, but we're told in verse 4, He had to pass through Samaria.

A little bit of history, in 722 BC Assyria invaded Israel as part of God's judgment. They took many of the Jews back to Assyria and transplanted some Assyrians into Israel so there was interracial marriage. The interracial marriages created this new group of people called the Samaritans who were despised, as you'll see in a moment, by the Jews because of this interbreeding racially. And so they wouldn't deal with the Samaritans because they were 'half-breeds' and they were unclean and so they wouldn't have anything to do with them. But the Bible says that Jesus had to pass through Samaria.

The reason He had to pass through Samaria is because at 12 o'clock noon, or as the Scripture says, "the sixth hour," that's 12 o'clock, there's a woman coming to the well. We're told in verse five, "And so, He came to the city of Samaria called Sychar near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph. And Jacob's well was there. So Jesus being wearied from His journey was sitting by the well; it was about the sixth hour there came a woman of Samaria to draw water; Jesus said to her 'Give me a drink.'"

Notice a lot of attention is given to this well. He wants us to know that this is not an ordinary well; this is a "Jacob-given-to-his-son" well. Why would that be important for the author of John, John the apostle to tell us that? Well, in a moment you'll see the Jews didn't get along with the Samaritans and the Samaritans didn't get along with the Jews, but they both loved Jacob, for Jacob was the father of the Jews and the Samaritans, of course, of the Jews, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but also of the Samaritans because the Samaritans accepted the first five books of the Bible.

So, in order to make this thing work, Jesus met her on common ground. He met her at a place of agreement. And the place of agreement was scripturally related because they were both related to Jacob. And so, He met her at a place that they could both agree on. He meets her there and we find out that He wants a drink of water from her cup.

You've got to be kidding me. You're gonna put your Jewish lips to this woman's Samaritan cup? Now we know it's a shocker, cause look at verse nine. Verse nine tells us; therefore, the Samaritan woman said to Him, "How is it that you being a Jew ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans?"

Now before I go on I want to call your attention to verse eight. "For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food." So, they've gone to the city to buy food and He just drops that in and then goes back to the story because that's gonna become a critical part of the story in just a moment; that they're in town buying food.

The Samaritan woman looks at Jesus after Jesus is offering to drink from her cup and she is shocked, "stuptified," mesmerized. She can't figure out, You, being a Jew, ask me a Samaritan for a drink of water?" Why is this important? Question No. 1, how did she know He was a Jew? He never identifies Himself as a Jew. He never says that He's a Jew. So, evidently He's obviously a Jew. Just by looking at Him, seeing His dress, hearing His accent, cause all she does is see Him and hear Him, He's obviously Jewish. So, recognizing He's a Jew, she's shocked. In other words Jesus didn't stop being who He was to reach somebody else.

But even though He maintained His racial and cultural identity, He didn't let it get in the way of doing what His Father had called Him to do. And that is to reach across the railroad tracks to somebody who was different than Him who the rest of His culture would not reach out to. "For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans."

While God is not calling any of us to give up how He made us, He is not expecting us to use how He made us to relate inappropriately to people He has made different than us. (Applause)

Program Note:

John: Dr. Tony Evans on today's "Focus on the Family." Get the CD or the book in which he's written about this topic, Oneness Embraced at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or call 1-800-A-FAMILY. Let's go ahead and continue listening to Dr. Tony Evans on today's "Focus on the Family."

End of Program Note

Tony: It is technically incorrect, technically, to call yourself a black Christian, or a white Christian or Hispanic Christian, because then you make your color or your culture an adjective. (Audience Agreement)

It's the job of an adjective to modify a noun, so if you put Christianity in the noun position and your color or culture in the "adjectiable" position, you have to keep shaping the noun so that it looks like the adjective that describes it. So if your color or culture stays in the adjectiable position you gotta keep shaping Christianity to look black, or to look white or to look red or to look yellow, 'cause that's the adjectiable description you've given it. (Applause)

Your Christianity must always be in the adjectiable position, your color and culture must always be in the noun position, so that if anything must be adjusted, it is the noun of your humanity and not the adjective of your faith. (Cheering and Applause) You and I are to define our humanity in terms of our faith, not our faith in terms of our humanity. Jesus stayed who He was, but He operated from heaven's point of view. He didn't give up being a Jew to reach her.

God is not asking you to give up who you are to touch somebody else, but don't let the fact that all them other folk in your race won't drink from a cup, to keep you from drinking from a cup. (Applause) Don't be so committed to your own race that you operate outside of the Christian faith (Cheering and Applause) while staying true to what God has made you.

And so, Jesus Christ says, "Can I have a drink of your water?" And so she is awed by the fact that he's going to put his Jewish lips to my Samaritan cup." Now please notice something, He hadn't given her any Bible yet. He hadn't preached to her yet, He hadn't witnessed to her yet. He hadn't given her theology yet. She doesn't even know who He is. All she knows is He's a nice man. That's all she knows.

See, a lot of folk want to tell folk about Jesus who are not willing to drink out of the cup (Cheering and Applause). "I want to get your soul to Heaven, I just don't want to deal with you on earth." "I'll witness to you, but I won't eat with you," "I'll witness to you, but I won't drink with you." Or "I'll talk about God." Jesus hadn't even talked about who He is yet, but He demonstrated by His touch and by His sociology, gave validity to the theology that was to come.

So, Jesus tells her in verse 10, "If you knew the gift of God and who it was who you were talking to, who said, "Give me the drink," you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water," a little transition to the spiritual. "He'd have given you living water." "Everyone who drinks your water," verse 13, "is going to thirst again, but whoever drinks the water that I give him will him shall never thirst, but the water that I give him will become a well springing up to eternal life."

The woman says, "Well shucks, I want that water. I won't have to come out her 12 o'clock every day and do this well thing if you gonna do that. What is this living water? I don't know where you're going with this. What is this?" Well, he says to her, "Go call your husband."

Okay, now He done gone from drinking water to who she's sleeping with. (Audience Reaction) He done gone from drinking water, He's all up in her boudoir; He's all up in her business. He's all up in her stuff. "Go call your husband." She says "I don't have a husband." Jesus says, "You've got that right," verse 17. (Laughter) You have correctly said, because you've had five husbands and the one you have now is Mr. Jones, "Me and Mr. Jones," "Me and Mr. Jones." (Laughter) "The one you have now is not your husband." "This you have truly said."

He confronts her with her sinfulness, her looseness, her improprieties. He could've never gotten that far if He wasn't willing to drink from her cup. (Audience Agreement) But His sociology opened up an opportunity for theology. She said "Sir," verse 19, "I perceive you are a prophet." I guess so! He's all up in your stuff like that; He knows about your life, just having met you. "I perceive you are a prophet."

She says, "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain," verse 20, "and you people," (Laughter) a racial slur if I ever heard one, "You people say that in Jerusalem is the place where you are to worship." Jesus says, "Woman believe me the hour is coming and now neither in this mountain or Jerusalem shall you worship the Father you worship that you know not. We worship what we know, for salvation is of the Jews. An hour is coming and now is when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth for such people the Father seeks to worship Him. God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth."

Notice something. When race comes up earlier, He was a Jew she was a Samaritan. He asks to drink from her cup, Jesus makes no comment, none at all, just a reality. "You're Jew, I'm Samaritan," no comment. But now she brings up race in relationship to Jesus' Father, where we worship. "Our fathers worship in this mountain." Behind her is Mount Gerizim. Mount Gerizim is where the Samaritan temple was located and that's where we go to church. We go to church on Mount Gerizim. You people, ya'll … ya'll go to church over there; ya'll go to church over there. You go to church in Jerusalem.

Watch this, "We were raised different," cause she says, "Our father", our father, that's how you were raised. "Jesus, let me explain this. My daddy told me that when you want to get close to God, you go … you go back here to Gerizim.

And my daddy told me that 'cause my grand-daddy told my daddy who told me. It's part of my history; it's part of my heritage. It's part of my background; it's how I was raised. And you people, the only reason you do what you do is 'cause your daddy told you, 'cause your, his granddaddy told your daddy who told you and your great-granddaddy told your granddaddy who told your daddy who told you. We got two different histories; we got two different backgrounds. We were raised on different sides of the track, Jesus. We're different!" When she brought up race the first time, Jesus had nothing to say, but when she brought His daddy into it, He gives her a whole lecture. (Applause)

"We can have our racial differences lady, but when you bring my Father into the discussion, I gotta clarify" and boy does He clarify, "You worship what you know not." (Audience Reaction) Your daddy was wrong; your granddaddy was wrong; your great-granddaddy was wrong and your great-great-granddaddy was wrong. (Applause) All your people are wrong!

They're all wrong; because they're not worshiping correctly; they're not worshiping the True God. You are following a tradition passed down by your parents, passed down by your race and all of 'em are wrong when you bring my Father into the equation, because theology must rule anthropology and sociology and all the other "ologies." (Audience Agreement) You're wrong, because when you bring my Father into it, it has to have to have two qualifications: spirit and truth. (Audience Agreement)

It's gotta be the right heart and spirit. It's gotta emanate from the right might motivation and truth. It must operate on an objective standard. Ah, here's our problem. We are operating on illegitimate standards that are not rooted in God; they're rooted in culture, rooted in history, rooted in background. And all of that may be facts, but the question we must ask is, is it the truth? 'Cause you can have facts and it not be the truth. Your information could be accurate and it not be the truth, because the truth is an objective standard by which reality is measured. It's God's point of view on any subject. So, just 'cause you were raised a certain way, once how you were raised disagrees with what God says, how you were raised was wrong (Applause) and I'm talking about your mama and your daddy. (Cheers and Applause) I'm playin' the dozens on you.

And the problem is people reach back in their history to legitimize their decisions today, when their decisions today go against the Kingdom of God and God Himself, but because "this is me, this is my background, this is what my daddy told me, this is what my people say." So, that goes on forever, year after year, decade after decade and in our country, 240 years later it looks like we've made some progress, but then we back up to very little progress 'cause it's rooted in facts that are not necessarily truth.

Closing:

John: We're halfway through an excellent message from Dr. Tony Evans about a biblical view of race and next time, we'll hear his conclusions.

Jim: John, I want everyone to hear Tony's entire presentation before I make a few comments. And we'll do that at the end of the program tomorrow. But if you can't be with us to hear it, get it online, download the app for your smartphone, whatever you need to do, 'cause I think this is one of the most critical messages we have right now before us.

Let me say that Tony is right on the money in this message and it's so important that we behave like Christians first and foremost. That's what I liked about what he was saying. Uh ... when we put an adjective before the word "Christian," we're diminishing being made in the image of God and our duty as Christians in terms of how we should behave and treat each other with that dignity. So, I love that component. We're not simply black and white and red and yellow Christians. We are Christians and then, how we treat each other after that is what's critical and we should treat each other with that dignity.

As we were developing this program, we actually got a suggestion from a listener. Her name was Mary and she said she'd like to see more Christians speak up about the issues of race. And I've heard this as I've traveled, John, on the road. This is becoming for all the wrong reasons, a critical discussion in the country today and we need to address it. We need to look at this as more than a black and white issue, Mary asked us to do and to acknowledge that there is an enemy that's trying to tear this world apart. And it says it right in John 10:10, that the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy, so Mary, you're right. It's an excellent point and I hope that this program, Day 1 and next time, helps to address this issue of racial tension and then how the Christian community needs to begin to respond.

Dr. Martin Luther King was such a good orator and he had an incredible way of using the English language to communicate. He said at one point, we must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools. And I think at this moment, those words are very meaningful.

Folks, this is really a sanctity of human life issue. God created all of us in his image and we need to treat each other with that dignity and respect. That's one of the foundational pillars here at Focus on the Family. And if you can and would support the ministry of Focus as we communicate not just about marriage and parenting, about vital issues that are in the culture like this one of racial tension, I would like to send you a book by Tony Evans called Oneness Embraced. It touches on this very topic of how we as Christians should act in the culture, how we should model God's love and perspective on this issue of race. And I will make that available to you for a donation of any amount as our way of saying thank you for supporting our efforts.

John: And you can call with your donation, 1-800- A -FAMILY or stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radio . Thanks for your generosity and again, we'll make Dr. Evans' book available to you as our thank you gift for your donation.

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly, I'm John Fuller, thanking you for listening and inviting you back tomorrow for more from Dr. Tony Evans, as we once again, help you and your family thrive.

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Guest

Tony Evans

View Bio

Dr. Tony Evans is founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative, former chaplain of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, and present chaplain of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on nearly 1,000 US radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. For more information, visit TonyEvans.org.