How did Jesus carry folks collectively greater than ever earlier than?

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You don't have to look very far through human history to see that we have a uniform pattern of division. From riots to wars to concentration camps, it seems to me that humanity has managed to fight and separate more often than they were peaceful and unified.

The Bible shows us that this has been the case from the beginning. In the book of Genesis we read that the son of Adam and Eve, Cain, got angry and "rose against his brother Abel and killed him" (Genesis 4: 8, ESV). The first child ever born killed his only brother (who was the second child ever born!). Unfortunately, it seemed to be going downhill from there.

Of course, it makes sense that we are so hateful and divisive when you look at the depravity of humanity. The apostle Paul describes who we are separate from Christ:

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, magic, enmity, strife, jealousy, tantrums, rivalries, discord, divisions, envy, intoxication, orgies and things like that. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5: 19-21, NLT).

If we have to work with it, it's no wonder that every generation (especially ours today) deals with hatred, division and racism – it's in our nature.

But then someone came and offered humanity another way. This man's name was Jesus. While Jesus' goal was not just to end social injustice (although many wanted it in his time), what he accomplished enabled forgiveness and sins of all kinds to be fully forgiven and overcome. In fact, Jesus did exponentially more to bring people together than anyone else in history – together!

How did Jesus reconcile or bring people together? He did this in at least three ways:

1. Jesus taught reconciliation

Jesus' sermons challenged the people of his time for many reasons. First, he taught his followers to love, accept, and forgive not only their friends, but also their enemies. He told a parable about a Samaritan who cared for someone in need, even if a religious Jew would not (Luke 10). He described the Kingdom of God as a wedding feast to which the host invited strangers from the street (Matthew 22).

He taught that people who recognized their spiritual poverty and hunger would be blessed instead of those who had it all together (Matthew 6). He said that he shouldn't take revenge if someone hurts you, but "turn the other cheek" (Matthew 5). In addition, Jesus raised the bar as we treat others that He said “to be perfect” (Matthew 5.48).

But Jesus didn't just teach about it …

2. Jesus demonstrated reconciliation

While the religious people around Jesus were notorious for their hypocrisy, Jesus always practiced “what he preached”. For example, Jesus did everything to stop and have a conversation with a shamed and divorced Samaritan woman in John 4. He rebuked his disciples as they tried to keep children away and greeted their distraction with open arms (Matthew 19).

He spent time with a wealthy tax collector named Zacchaeus, a rough fisherman named Peter, a philosopher named Nicodemus, a woman possessed by demons named Mary, a group of outcast leper, countless disabled men and women, and the marginalized of society. To top it off, he forgave the sins of a convicted criminal when he himself hung on a dying cross.

So Jesus taught about reconciliation, he demonstrated it and then …

3. Jesus made a way for our reconciliation

The gospel of Jesus Christ is really the great unifier of humanity. When we look through the lens of the gospel, even though we still see skin color, eye color, hair color, clothing style, tattoos, height and shape, gender and everything else that is unique to someone, these distinctions affect our no longer love for them .

The gospel calls us to deny ourselves, lose our own lives, oppose others, love our neighbors, and forgive our enemies. So if we (and only then) leave our lives completely to Jesus Christ, the things that shared us earlier no longer matter. As Paul also wrote to the Galatians:

There are no Jews or Greeks, there are no slaves or free people, there are no men and women because you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28, ESV).

But being clear just because we know what Jesus taught or studied his life does not mean that we will have what we need to be reconciled. That is why, although Jesus focused on improving human relationships, it did not really start there.

Instead, he emphasized that unless we are first spiritually reborn and brought together with God, we will never experience the kind of love that God has for us. This is the only true way we can be brought closer to others and love them.

That is the side of the "bad news" of the gospel. There is an old sentence that says: "The floor is flat at the foot of the cross." This means that no matter who we are, where we come from, what we can do, or what we have, we are "already condemned" simply because we are born into this sinful world as a sinful, depraved person (John 3:18) ).

But the "good news" is that God saw us in this condemned, depraved state, still loved us, and then sent His Son to Earth to enable all of us to relate to him. The death and resurrection of Jesus enable us to be reconciled to God and others.

If we accept what he did for us and receive his salvation gift, he will make it possible for us to come by and only talk about ideals of love, forgiveness, peace and unity and actually live them!

How is that possible? Because when we are born again, the Holy Spirit who settles in our hearts produces these things like a tree that bears fruit. As Paul also wrote:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, kindness, loyalty, gentleness, self-control; there is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus crucified the flesh with his passions and desires. If we live by the spirit, let's keep up with the spirit too. Let us not be imagined, provoke one another, envy one another (Galatians 5: 22-24, ESV).

And still does today

This has so many uses, but especially with racism. When we are changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, how we see ourselves and others changes. As a songwriter, Seth and Nirva Ready (themselves an interracial couple) sing in their song "Brother": "When I face my enemy, I see my brother." However, this is only possible if you are first brought together and reconciled with God .

Photo credit: © iStock / Getty Images Plus / Tampatra

Robert Hampshire is the senior pastor of the village church in Churchville, Virginia. He has been married to Rebecca since 2008 and has three children, Brooklyn, Bryson and Abram. Robert attended North Greenville University in South Carolina for his bachelor's degree and Liberty University in Virginia for his master's. He has served in various roles as a worship pastor, youth pastor, family pastor and now as a pastor. He promotes his service through his blog site Pastoring a Village: Sermons, Thoughts, Devos. His goal in life is to serve God and his church by reaching the lost with the gospel, making devoted disciples, equipping and empowering others to continue in their faith and calling, and leading a culture of multiplication to the glory of God. Find out more about him here.

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