Pastor’s Ponderings: June 2020

by John Armstrong
 
What is repentance? How do you measure repentance? There is repentance unto life and then
there is every day repentance. What are you in the process of repenting? Maybe you don’t
really know what repentance is. Repentance and faith are the two vital parts of the Christian
life. Reformed believers are quick to acknowledge that we are sinners saved by grace and then
seem to move on with life without much thought of the change we are called to and
empowered for by the Holy Spirit. Repentance is not something you are going to muster up in
yourself, it is a change of mind wrought in us by God. We see our sin and in repentance we
repudiate that sin and walk in such a way that we put that sin to death. Repentance is seen in
our lives by change over time. This is true for individuals and it is also true for the church, and
for the nation. We must acknowledge that we are sinners and we live among sinful people and
as sinful people living together we are guilty of corporate sins. The sins we tolerate as a people,
whether it be at the national level, or the church level, are sins for which we need to confess,
and ask God for the gift of forgiveness and repentance.
In our current national crisis, the sin of ethnic inequality has again come to the fore and is being
weaponized by various factions for all kinds of purposes depending on to whom you are
speaking. What are we as the church supposed to be doing? Our denomination, The
Presbyterian Church in America is predominantly white, and middle-class. There are very few
ethnic minorities in our denomination. By far, the ethnic minority most represented are
Koreans at 15% with many of those being in Korean language Presbyteries. About 1% of the
Teaching Elders in our denomination are African-American. I point that out just to give some
background about where we are coming from.
The events of the past weeks that highlight ethnic inequality and injustice are grievous to us as
Christians and they should be. As followers of the Lord Jesus, we of all people should be
concerned for life and peace, we should work to end oppression in all of its forms. How do we
do that? Maybe you are uncomfortable with some of this vocabulary, because what does this
word or that word mean? Depending on who you are and your experience, different words
take on different meanings. Therefore, we often talk past one another. That is why I’m pleased
that our denomination through its Committee on Discipleship Ministries (CDM) and Mission to
North America (MNA), are calling for a time of mourning and listening. The month of June was
set apart for 30 days of Gratitude (a time to pray and be grateful) that is now being postponed
as we instead take time to focus on the sin and brokenness around us having to do with ethnic
inequality and injustice. Let me encourage you to make the time to participate with our
denominational response that you can find here:
https://pcacdm.org/a-time-to-listen-a-time-to-mourn/
People are suffering in our midst and that should not be. As a Bible believing Christian, I believe
that every human being is created in the image of God and is worthy of respect simply on that
ground. There is one race, we are the human race, we all have the same blood veins, we all
have the same original sin of our first parents. There is therefore no place for injustice and
oppression. We may not all look the same, but those differences are purely superficial. We are
all sinners in need of a Savior, we are all sinners in need of repentance. One of the best ways
for us to repent is to mourn our brokenness and open our ears to hear those who are suffering.
Then, we will be better equipped to respond with the gospel of Jesus Christ to this hurting and
broken world in which we live.