Jesus Preached the Word

Mark 2:2b

And he was preaching the word to them.

This sentence applies to Jesus. He, the Lord Jesus, was preaching the word to the crowd. Praise god for this little reminder. Jesus preached the word!

When you think of Jesus, do you remember his preaching? We love the miracles. We love the healings. We watch the confrontations. We smile at the kindnesses. But do we think of the fact that Jesus preached the word?

Jesus preached. Our Savior found value in the proclamation of truth. He did not seem to think that his proclamation should be replaced with dramas, with showiness, with mere conversation. Something about the authoritative proclamation of the word was central to the ministry of the Savior.

Jesus preached the word. What is the word? Jesus preached Scripture. Jesus did not stray from it. Jesus did not replace it. Jesus did not run to worldly philosophy. Jesus, God the Son, God in flesh, chose to preach to the people the already written word of God. Yes, during his ministry, Jesus brought new words. This was, after all, a time of an open canon of authoritative revelation. But right here, Mark emphasizes for us that it is the word Jesus preached.

Should this not impact what we think we should be about? In your church, is the preaching of the word central? Jesus preached. Is preaching central? Jesus preached the word. Is the word final and authoritative? If we want to be like Jesus in our churches, we must be devoted to preaching the word.

The Church Is More Important Than You Realize

Acts 26:14-15 – 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.

As Paul shares his testimony of his salvation, he points to the words of Jesus to him as he was traveling to Damascus. Jesus identified himself as the one Saul was persecuting. Realize that what Saul, later Paul, was doing was attacking and persecuting believers in Christ, the church.

Jesus said that to persecute his church was to persecute him. This must give us confidence and hope. This statement of the Savior reminds us of the importance of the church. Jesus sees an attack on his church as an attack on him.

Consider how this principle should impact how Christians think about the church. The church is more valuable than you realize. The church is more precious to Jesus than you realize. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are more important than you realize. Your participation in the church is more important than you realize.

May we love Jesus well by loving his church well.

Underhanded Ways or Open Proclamation

2 Corinthians 4:1–3 – 1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.

In this section of Scripture, Paul is describing some of how he and his associates have done ministry in Corinth. The apostle has recently highlighted how much superior the New Covenant is to the Old. And Paul has indicated that the presence of the Spirit of God who gives life rather than the letter of law that kills is something we celebrate.

In that context, Paul points out that he and his friends share the word of God without losing heart (v1). They will not be thrown off by those who are blinded so as not to believe (v3). And, as we see in verse 2, Paul will not use disgraceful or underhanded practices for the sake of ministry. Paul says that he and his associates refuse to practice cunning and to tamper with God’s word. Instead, Paul presents an open statement of the truth.

It is verse 2 that leaps out at me for application. There is no place in Christian ministry for disgraceful or underhanded practices. There is no place for sinning to grow the ministry. I think that Paul is pretty clear as to what that sort of disgraceful thing would be. There is no place for tampering with the word of God. Instead, there is only a call by God for faithful, honest proclamation of the word.

How different does a ministry look when it will not tamper with the word of God? Such a ministry would be one that tells the truth of God’s word without varnish. Such a ministry would not hide things in Scripture that are out of favor with society. While this ministry ought not be nasty and harsh, those in the ministry must be honest and simply proclaim the word of god as written. And, as we see in our present cultural moment, that will include the church saying things that would have our society turn against us for refusing to embrace their values.

Does your church use underhanded means? Is there something sneaky about what you do? Think it through more carefully. What does your church proclaim? What does your church try to hide? What does your church present to the community as essential to the Christian life? Is your church grown on the word of God and its proclamation, or are other strategies more central to your church’s growth? What things does your church do that have nothing to do with Scripture which, if they were removed, would make you feel like your ministry has been deeply harmed? What tools, if taken from your church’s toolbox, would make you feel like your church lost its identity. Would your church still be your church if faithful proclamation of the word of God was all you could do and all the rest was stripped away?

In the ministry we do, may we only ever be faithful. May we not be underhanded. May we never tamper with the word. May we proclaim God’s word honestly. Some will believe. Some will not. But what is most important is that we are faithful to the Lord in accord with the perfect word he has revealed.

Unequal Yoking is About More Than Marriage

Do not be unequally yoked. When Christians today hear those words, we immediately take a mental leap to the issue of marriage. The Bible has been clear, from Old Testament to New, that it is against the command of God for a follower of the Lord to unite in marriage to someone who is not a follower of the Lord. This was partly why God told Israel not to intermarry with the nations around them (preserving the line of Messiah also was involved here). And it is why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7 that a widow is free to marry whom she wishes, but only in the Lord (1 Cor. 7:39). And this is certainly a fair application of 2 Corinthians 6:14, that a believer must not yoke himself in marriage to a non-believer.

But the context of 2 Corinthians 6 is not matrimonial at its heart. Rather, the context is one of deep and treasured relationships. Early in the chapter, Paul talked about how he and his fellow servants of the Lord were commending themselves to the Corinthians through suffering, godly character, and the faithful proclamation of the word. This would be in comparison to the false teachers who were attempting to lead the Corinthian church away from being faithful followers of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 6:11-13 – 11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. 13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

Paul is clearly saddened by the fact that, though he and his ministry cohorts love the church in Corinth, the Corinthians have been reserved in returning that love. The Corinthians have been divided in their affection between those who love the Lord and those who are preaching something other than the gospel.

Now, read the 2 Corinthians passage with more than marriage in mind. Read it with friendship and other bonds of relationship in mind as well.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 – 14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

I believe that God is wanting us to think about more than marriage here. Our chief relationships, our most valued and treasured friendships, are to be with those who follow the Lord. Yes, this has to apply to marriage. But it also must apply in all sorts of human affection. It applies to who are your friends. It applies to who are your business partners. It applies to in whom you delight.

I am reminded of David’s words on this subject.

Psalm 16:3-4

3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

David said that the saints, those who follow the Lord, have his delight. David will not delight in those who oppose the Lord.

Now, Christian, ask yourself if your delight is in the people of God. Be clear that I’m not merely talking about family and marriage. With whom would you most like to spend an afternoon? Whose life most interests you? Who would you most delight to meet? When you have free time, with whom do you want to just hang out? Are your answers people who are the saints of God, those who know and love the Lord?

It is wise that the people of God delight in the people of God. This is not to say that we do not develop kind relationships with those who do not know the Lord. But our delight, our soul-refreshing relationships, must be our relationships with people who are going the same direction we are. We must not be unequally yoked together with those who do not love our God. Ask yourself how this might impact your thinking and your actions regarding your local church. Pray that the Lord give you a primary delight in him and the people who love him.

Whose Peace Do You Seek?

What does a Christian do with a psalm or other passage that speaks much about Jerusalem? Are we to focus a great deal on the modern city in Israel? Perhaps some passages would point us that way. But is that all we do?

Psalm 122:6-9

6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
“May they be secure who love you!
7 Peace be within your walls
and security within your towers!”
8 For my brothers and companions’ sake
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your good.

What was the point of the psalmist here? Without a doubt, he was praying for and seeking the good of the ancient city of Jerusalem. But why? He sought the peace and prosperity of the city of Jerusalem because that is the place where the house of the Lord was located. He sought Jerusalem’s good because he was seeking the good of the name of God and the people of God.

What would the modern parallel be? Where do we see the people of God? Where do we find the worship of God? Where do we see the temple of the living God? My friends, as you see a psalm like Psalm 122, pray for the church.

One of the images used for the church is the picture of us, as living stones, being built together into a holy temple. The psalm sought the good of Jerusalem because that city was the location of the temple and the home of those who love the Lord.

With that in mind, ask yourself if you pray for and seek the good of the church with appropriate fervor. We do not have a city to battle for. This is not at all a military campaign. This is not even a flesh and blood fight. But we are the people of god being built together into the temple of God for the glory of God in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christian friends, what can you do that is of greater importance than seeking the good of your local church? No, do not sacrifice your family for ministry activity. But, in truth, any individual believer or family will find our identities in the fact that we are Christ-followers and part of a local body of believers. We give, pray, serve, and care for the church in a way that should be more significant than the way the people of Israel maintained the walls and gates of Jerusalem.

We Want To Look Normal

In 1 Samuel 8, the people of Israel sin against the Lord by demanding that God give them a king. Before this time, the people had covenanted with God to be under his personal rule and protection. But as time passed, the nation began to desire a human ruler.

Samuel even warns the people that having a king will be to the people’s harm, not to their good. The king will require servants, taxes, and a military. The king will cost the people a great deal without bringing them benefits.

But here is how the people respond.

1 Samuel 8:19-20 – 19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

The people demand a king, even when they know that they are violating the will of God and are asking for something that will hurt them. Why? What motivates them? They want to be like all the other nations around them.

Now, without over-interpreting this, let’s simply ask ourselves if we are susceptible to that temptation? Just watch the modern church. Isn’t it obvious? How often will modern Christians turn away from the word of God and choose a thing that God says is not his will simply so that they can be like all the people around them? How often will we do what hurts us spiritually simply to look normal to society? How often will we embrace sin, violations of Scripture, in order to have others who hate God approve of us?

Dear believers in Christ, may we learn from the mistakes of others here. May we repent and love the word of God. And may we throw off the desire to be just like all the peoples around us. Instead, may we desire nothing more than to be pleasing to our Lord, regardless of how strange that looks to the world.

Everything Stinks or Fret Not

Have you ever felt the need to take a break from social media and national news? I think many of us know what that feels like. We read enough snarky comments, we see enough bad news, we digest enough nastiness that we just want to turn it all off. Too much focus on the news of things we feel powerless to change can drive us to distraction or even despair.

It is nice to see that God’s word has a reminder for us when we begin to worry because of wickedness.

Proverbs 24:19–20

19 Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
and be not envious of the wicked,
20 for the evil man has no future;
the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

Fret not. That is a good little sentence right there. Do not let yourself become fretful, worried, overwhelmed because of evil doers.

For some reason, I am here reminded of a silly movie that was, in one scene, presenting a spoof of a conservative news talk show called “Everything Stinks.” When we spend too much of our time digesting news of politics and national scandal, it is possible for us to feel like we belong as a host of “Everything Stinks.” But to do that eventually takes us to a place of despairing over the evil acts of evil people.

Verse 20 of the proverb reminds us that the evil person has no future. In the long run, whether in this life or in the age to come, the wicked person’s lamp will be put out by the judgment of God. God will deal with those who would mislead the church into heresy. And knowing that we serve an all-powerful God who is holy and just gives us hope. God will deal with those who would divide the nation based on skin color. God will deal with those who delight in the murder of the unborn. God will deal with those who hate his design. God is not going to be beaten.

Surely do not misunderstand me here. I do not propose that Christians ignore what is going on in the world abroad whether in the church or in politics. But we must not become so focused on those issues that we fret because of evil doers. WE must have appropriate checks that prevent us from allowing our souls to despair.

One such check is the one here in the Proverbs. Keep yourself from despair by remembering the sovereignty and justice of God. Those who hate the Lord and his ways have his judgment to face. God is not going to lose this battle. The Lord will be glorified. The name of the Lord will be praised from the rising of the sun to its setting. There is no corner of the globe over which the Lord will not rule. Set your hope and your mind there.

Another check that I will offer is to open your eyes to what the Lord is doing, not on the national political scene, but right in your own church and in your own family. We do not do one another good if all we do is share the latest Facebook post of all the horrors of Washington. Yes, we need to be informed. But we need even more to be informed about the way a friend’s child has learned to follow the word of God. We need to know about a sister in Christ who has a new job possibility. We need to know about a brother in Christ who is preparing to teach his first Sunday School class or preach is first sermon. We need to know about a couple that needs comfort because of a loss or another couple who is planning to get married. We need to let our minds and our hearts be filled with what the Lord is doing in the local body of Christ and not simply in the political swamps of DC.

Yes, know what is going on. Yes, be active. Yes, be sure that people know of the horrors of abortion and racism and abuse and all the rest. But play your role in the local church. Take part in investing in the lives of the people around you. And fret not because of evil doers, because the Lord will use his people to accomplish his will for his glory.

Why So Weird?

I had a conversation recently that brought up the question of why some believers are so very weird. I’m not talking here about why believers are weird to the world. The lost world will never understand why we follow the ways of the Lord regarding all sorts of issues related to worship and even basic morality. But that does not answer why some believers can get so very strange, slipping way out into left field in their doctrine and practice.

Proverbs 18:1-2

1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.
2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.

These two verses at the beginning of Proverbs 18 do a great job of showing us what is a danger that some believers face. Isolation is deadly. Cloistering together with only a few believers can often produce an echo chamber leading to very dangerous thinking. Believers need other Bible-believing believers to help them to examine their thoughts and their doctrine to be sure that nobody is driving the car off a cliff.

Of course I do not assume that there is no danger in following the crowd. In America, the modern church produces a whole lot of bad doctrine and bad thinking. I’m surely not suggesting that believers need to be influenced by prosperity preachers or megachurch strategies. We need to be sure that our influence is genuinely biblical.

What I am saying, however, is that we need to be careful that we are in contact with other believers who love the word and who have the right and the ability to challenge our thinking when we suddenly develop a “new” way to understand something. If the only voice you hear is your own when you propose a new way to keep the Sabbath, to think about roles in marriage, to discuss the standards for baptism, or something similar, you are likely to walk into some strange territory. We need to hear the voices of believers from the past who helped develop solid confessions of the faith. We also need to hear the voices of trustworthy believers in the present, especially if they see us wandering off into weirdness for weirdness’ sake. And even our local churches need interaction with other local churches to make sure that we, as a group, have not gone somewhere novel.

This is true in big doctrines, and it is true in day-to-day living. Isolation is deadly for the believer. God designed us to be united together in a community, a family, a body called the local church. You need to be thinking and praying and living alongside other believers. You need to see people who hurt in different ways than you do so that you can learn compassion. You need to be around people who are smarter than you, or who are smart in a different way from you, so that you can learn from their experience and study. You need to hear solid arguments and not merely your own voice.

Determining What Is Gain

Christian friend, how do you make big decisions? You will probably tell me that you pray about them. You may tell me that you seek out counsel. But I have two questions.

First, do you? Do you really go to the Lord with your cares and desires, asking him to reshape your mind to match is desires? Do you actually lay what you want down before the Lord and ask if what you want fits best his plan and his kingdom? Do you speak with other believers, wise believers, godly believers, and ask them to help you to know if what you want is best? Do you go to the word and ask if the desire of your heart violates the commands of Scripture or the principles of Scripture?

And secondly, how big, in the light of your decisions, is the church of the Lord Jesus? When you consider something like moving to a new city, taking a new job, building a new house, going on an extended vacation, investing in the future, getting married, or any other such thing, does the church figure in your mind at all? No, I’m not suggesting that you seek your pastor’s permission to take a trip out of town. But, when you make a plan, especially a big plan, does the good of the local body with which you have covenanted even begin to niggle at the back of your brain?

What I fear is often the case in our world today is that many believers assume that all of our decisions are our own. WE think that we have every right to go where we want, do what we want, change how we want, and no person has a real right to speak into us. We think that we are to consider our own wellbeing, that of our family, that of our portfolio, and those things make us let go of any local church body without much by way of concern for the people we will leave behind. Sure, we may miss some old friends, sure, THERE may be no solid church where we will move, but this or that reason makes our move the best idea for us.

Many of these thoughts came to the surface for me while reading a new printing of an older D. A. Carson book. Carson takes us to Philippians 1, and he points out how Paul considered the good of the local church above his own personal desires.

Philippians 1:19–26 – 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Paul knew that it would be for the good of the church that his deepest desire not be met, at least not yet. Paul wanted to depart and be with Christ. He had served many painful years. He had been through more than many of us will ever dream of. And, with all that said, Paul knew that his life was for the good of other believers and not merely for himself. And convinced of that, Paul knew that the right thing was that God use him for the good of the church first.

Do we think like this? Do we make decisions like this? I truly wonder.

See how Carson writes about this topic, and ask the Lord to help you think in a godly way. Ask if God will help you to, as a Christian, value the local church to the glory of God even above the typical factors in your major decision-making process.


What is striking about Paul’s evaluation is how deeply it is tied to the well-being of other believers, rather than to his own. Even in this respect, Paul is imitating his Master. "Convinced of this"—convinced that my remaining alive will be best for you—"I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith . . (1:25). Or better translated, "I know that I expect to remain and expect to continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith." And even this progress in the faith that Paul covets for the Philippians, he construes as a cause for their joy: "so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me" (1:26).

The lesson to be learned is startlingly clear: put the converts of the gospel at the center of your principled self-denial. Paul’s deepest hopes for his own immediate future turn neither on the bliss of immediately gaining heaven’s portals nor

on returning to a fulfilling ministry and escaping the pangs of death, but on what is best for his converts. Often we are tempted to evaluate alternatives by thinking through what seems best for us. How often do we raise as a first principle what is best for the church? When faced with, say, a job offer that would take us to another city or with mortal illness that calls forth our diligent intercession, how quickly do we employ Paul’s criterion here established: What would be best for the church? What would be best for my brothers and sisters in Christ?

There is a kind of asceticism that is frankly idolatrous. Some people gain a kind of spiritual "high" out of self-denial. But the self-denial that is motivated by the spiritual good of others is unqualifiedly godly. That is what Paul displays.*

*D. A. Carson, Basics for Believers (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2018), 35-36.

A House of Prayer for All Nations-Not a Divided Body

How concerned should a Christian be with his or her particular people group? Is it required that we look deeply into who are our ancestors? Is the color of our skin or the sins of our long-dead forefathers important to who we are in the church today? Is there a call for the church to divide people based on past wrongs or perceived social advantages in the present?

I wish such questions were merely theoretical, but if you pay attention to the things being said in the church in America today, you will see that the move toward an embrace of social justice causes has begun to bring about division in the body. People are now beginning to put descriptor words in front of the word Christian to say what they are. There is a focus, on the part of some, on identifying as white Christians, black Christians, Hispanic Christians, etc. We would love to think that the church would remember that ethnic divisions and social stigmas have no place in the church, but such is not the case today.

Surprisingly, I thought of this issue in my read through Isaiah, a place I was not expecting to bring it to mind.

Isaiah 56:3-8

3 Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”
4 For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
5 I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.
6 “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant—
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.”
8 The Lord God,
who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
“I will gather yet others to him
besides those already gathered.”

Do you recall when Jesus cleansed the temple by turning over the tables of the money-changers? The Savior quoted from this passage of Isaiah. He reminded the religious leadership that his Father’s house is to be a house of prayer for all nations. People from all people groups were to be able to come to that place and find a pure experience of the worship of God. And the religious leaders were causing divisions, erecting barricades. When the Jews charged exorbitant amounts for people to exchange their currency for temple currency, were they not discriminating against the foreigner even more than the Israelite? Jesus saw that the religious leaders were doing things, not to unite a people of God, but to heighten animosity between people groups.

Interestingly, in the context of the passage that Jesus quoted as he drove out the animal-sellers, the Lord says that the foreigner is not to say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people.” Even during the days of national Israel, where there was a difference between Jew and gentile, God made it plain that there will not ultimately be a separation. The foreigner who comes to the Lord in faithful worship is not to feel separated. The foreigner is to stop identifying as foreign, outcast, different and simply identify as a worshipper of God. As we see in verses 7-8, “these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

If the Lord tells the foreigner not to think of himself as foreign anymore, if the Lord says that his house is a house of prayer for all peoples, are we not undermining the very fabric of the grace of God when we strive to reintroduce to the people of God division based on ethnicity? Of course we want to be honest about our past and admit that true evil has been done in the sin of racism. However, to then move forward and call upon people to continually walk in shame based on their ancestors’ sins or to tell another group they should separate and seek out theology only from those whose skin color matches their own, that is exactly the opposite of what this passage is about. The word of God points to a people of God, a single people of God, a people who are not defined as foreigners and insiders. We are just one people.

And this is exactly what the New Testament is telling us. When we see that, in Christ, there is no longer Jew or Greek (cf. Gal. 3:28; , Col. 3:11), we see that God has no interest in our bringing about any sort of division in the church based on skin color, national history, birthplace, language, social class, advantage or disadvantage, or anything else. . One beauty of the gospel is that God brings together for himself a multitude from every nation. And when that multitude is together, we have no hint in Scripture that the church is to take time to ask people to apologize for their nation of origin. The New Testament does not include stories of Romans apologizing to Jews for the cruelty of the emperors. The New Testament does not include stories of men apologizing to women in the church for the way that the society at large has treated them. Instead, the New Testament is clear that, once we are gathered together into the body of Christ, our divisions are taken off and we look at one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Our identity is not national anymore. Our identity is not our past. Our identity is the name of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, the imputed righteousness of Jesus.

Dear church, may we fulfill the word of God. We are being built together—all people, all colors, all pasts, all languages—to be a temple of God. We are one house. And may we be a house of prayer for all nations. May we never try to tell people that they, because of their skin color, must take a lower or seek a higher place. May we never lift anybody up or put anybody down because of the history of their forefathers. May we only see the people of God as one church, one body, one family of God.