Archive for the Mickey Sutliff Category

Diversity in the Gospel of Jesus Christ… Mickey Sutliff

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Culture, Mickey Sutliff with tags , , , , , on August 12, 2020 by paulthepoke

Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…

What was at first a need to broaden my understanding and create personal value for African American culture and history, I found the LORD was expanding my vision in seeing the Body of Christ in a new and broader glory. As we walked in an intentional cross-cultural church, the LORD opened my eyes and heart to how diversity within the local body and Body of Christ universal reflects the unconditional reach of the gospel and God’s purposes in salvation. Not that I did not understand or know that ‘God so loved the world…’ but how little we actually experience in our local church the reality of this truth that will be our ‘reality’ in heaven and how this reality reflects the glory of our Lord.

Through time spent in Scripture and walking out the Christian life within a cross-cultural church, I began to see a connection between the proclamation made by the ‘four living creatures & 24 Elders before the throne’ in Revelation 5:9 and the whole of redemptive history throughout the Scriptures. Revelation 5:9 reveals the worthiness and glory due to the Lamb Who Was Slain flows from His shedding His blood “for men of every tribe, every tongue, every people and every nation…”

I found the ‘nations‘ at the heart of God’s redemptive purposes from Genesis to Revelation. God’s promise & redemptive covenant with Abraham included not only blessing his descendants but also ‘…all the families of the earth’.

The Old Testament, where Israel dominates the focus of God’s blessings, the incorporation of the nations into His eternal family is interwoven throughout the Psalms & the Prophets.

  • Psalm 96 extols the glory of the Lord and His heart for the nations.
  • Jonah is focused on God’s love & compassion for a ‘nation’ not Israel and rebukes the prophet for his lack of compassion for them.
  • Isaiah 56:6-7 speaks of ‘foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, to love the name of the Lord… I will make them joyful in My house of prayer, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples’.
  • Joel 2:28, quoted by Peter at Pentecost, ‘I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh’.   

As I began to engage the LORD in this dialogue about the gospel, the Church and the nations, I began to see in our diverse church family the expression of the unconditional reach and reconciliating power of the gospel. The Church should reflect the redemptive purpose as revealed in Scripture, which will be more tangible when those who gather are not all homogeneous in its make up. Diversity within the gospel reveals more fully the reach of the gospel of Jesus Christ, whether it is cultural or socioeconomic or ethnic diversity. Ideally all of these, Ephesians and James speak to these diversities specifically.

Ephesians 2 speaks to being ‘no longer strangers and aliens, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God… being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord… being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

This picture laid out by Paul, reminds me of Isaiah’s vision of the LORD in His temple, and the seraphim proclaimed, ‘the whole earth is full of His glory’. The Church is His temple, as described by Paul and His glory will be made manifest by the Church. The gospel is not limited to one people group or ethnicity or to those of economic blessing or poverty (James 2:1-13).

God’s people, as revealed in Scripture, reflect the breadth of humanity. Even Jesus’ own 12 disciples were from the broad spectrum of Israelites.

Every Nation, Every Tribe, Every Tongue… Mickey Sutliff

Posted in #PaulthePoke, Culture, Mickey Sutliff with tags , , , , , , on July 23, 2020 by paulthepoke

22 years ago, nearly half my life ago, I had been a Christian for 15 years, discipled to know and love God’s Word as the foundation for following & loving our LORD, as well as being the basis for shaping my view of the world… to see the world as the LORD sees it, not necessarily as I or my culture chooses. In the process, I grew a passion for theology & apologetics and to make sure I understood what I believed and why I believed it. I had a strong commitment to the local Body of Christ and valued its importance to my daily walk. I would characterize myself at that time as mainstream Evangelical, conservative socially and politically and one that did not think much about diversity in the Body of Christ.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

I supported foreign missions and its role in spreading the gospel per Acts 1:8 but would not say I had much passion for what it meant for the Body of Christ to reflect people from “every nation, every tribe, every tongue” that Revelation 5 & 7 reveal before the Throne of God. 

Revelation 7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…

22 years ago, the LORD revealed His plan for me and my family… that we would be a multicultural family, as our two biracial daughters came into our lives at 7 months of age. I began the pursuit of leading my daughters/family well, which included incorporating African American heritage into our home. I began my pursuit for how to raise my girls to love God and who He made them to be. As I moved through this process, this became less of a “racial” discussion per se, but more importantly a biblical & theological one in my mind.

As I pursued the LORD, it became clear to me, to effectively lead my girls to value who God had purposed them to be (from the foundation of the world) in a country that has a history of devaluing African Americans, I had to hold those values for myself. Neither my upbringing or my first 15 years in Christ gave me much of a foundation but what I came to understand more clearly was there was more bias, ignorance and false understanding than I would readily admit 22 years ago. By the LORD’s grace, He brought us into community with African American brothers and sisters in Christ, where we were able to engage in meaningful, honest and at times very difficult and uncomfortable discussions. What followed required humble, honest self-evaluation… which led to repentance of heart issues and attitudes that came to light. The wonderfully good news of the Gospel is forgiveness & transformation Jesus Christ offers, but it does not come apart from repentance, and this is how sanctification is also worked in our heart as we continue to turn to the gospel throughout our life.

Paul the Poke

Habakkuk 1:5 Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. -LORD God

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