24/04: False Belief in the Black Church and the Necessity of Sorrow
“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41-42).
As John wrote in Revelation 21, the entire earth and all of creation will finally one day luminously reflect the everlasting, royal and majestic glory of the Warrior King Yahweh. He has not yet been crowded as the King of the New Heavens and Earth but in Revelation 21, He will after a long wait vest Himself in complete regality and be crowded the King of all creation, of the entire cosmos. Correspondingly, the earth and heaven will finally and completely reflect His royalty and Kingship. The Kingdom will reach the point of consummation. At the center of the New Creation, of the restored, remade, transformed Heaven and Earth is the New Jerusalem. In that Christ came, He inaugurated this kingdom on earth and we, through His strength, push this Kingdom forward (the continuation of the Kingdom) engaging Satan and the kingdom of darkness.
In the Old Testament, earthly Jerusalem was to be the place where God ruled creation on earth through the line of Abraham, through the chosen line of David. Jerusalem was to be the capital of God’s Kingdom on earth. Jerusalem was the focus of God’s actions throughout Scripture and link God’s rule, sovereignty and power to the earth through the line of David.
Let us briefly follow the importance of Jerusalem in Scripture. The first holy king and high priest of Jerusalem was Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20, Hebrews 7:1-10). At this place, Abraham also presented his son Isaac as an offering to God (Genesis 22:1-2; 2 Chronicles 3:1). Through the reign of David, Jerusalem was to be the center of the restoration of the world through the multiplication and dominion of Israel in I Chronicles 11. Christ as a Peaceful Warrior walks the streets of Jerusalem not on a battle ready horse but on a donkey because He has brought peace and He has through the Gospel begun to subdue the earth. Yahweh is seen as the King of Jerusalem through the line of royal line of David and ultimately in the person of the Royal Davidic Messiah (2 Chronicles 6:1-6, Matthew 21:1-11, Hebrews 12:22, Revelation 3:12, 21:1-4).
The earthly Jerusalem was to be the holy depiction of the Jerusalem that would one day come down to rest upon the earth (Revelation 21) as the fulfillment of Christ’s prayer in Matthew 6:10, “They Kingdom Come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven”. Earthly Jerusalem was designated by God as the city that was to be the physical throne of God on earth and the proper depiction of holiness and God’s presence upon the earth. But due to the continued sin of the Davidic line, Christ Himself came and waits for the repentance of the elect, so that He may bring the New Jerusalem to the renewed and redeemed earth. This “Jerusalem above” is not merely a “spiritual” world that has no connection with the present “groaning” (Romans 8:18-25) world in which we live. Its reality is injected into our lives as God’s people every time we worship God for indeed we join with the host of the “heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22).
With Luke’s writing in view, due to the importance and purpose of Jerusalem in redemptive history, we can understand why God wept over Jerusalem, i.e. the Jewish people and the Jewish land. Both were sacred to Him but they were a part of the Kingdom of Darkness and God sought to push the kingdom forward in order that the entire world would be His Kingdom. Jerusalem was not a part of His kingdom for He was certainly not recognized as the long-awaited Messiah, the Royal Davidic King by the city at large. God wanted so desperately to be received by Jerusalem and the Jewish people but He was rejected. Therefore Christ wept. Christ had come to the Jews and sought their belief and faithfulness.
The “hiddenness” denoted in verse 42 is a result of their rejection of the Davidic Messiah, the son of David, and not the cause of their unbelief. If we view the “hiddenness” as the cause of unbelief, the power and meaning of Christ’s tears becomes impotent and the passage does not impact and change us as Luke intends. We must view the rejection of Christ by the Jews as a “real and actual” rejection and Christ’s desire for fellowship as a “real and actual” desire for fellowship. If there were no real and actual desire for fellowship on the part of Christ, there would be no tears. Hyper-Calvinists view unbelief among unbelievers and perhaps false belief among believers to a lesser extent, only as Christ withholding His illumination. But the Bible requires that we also view unbelief as the “real and actual” human rejection of a God who greatly desires to have fellowship with mankind. This makes Jesus’ tears real.
The hyper-Calvinist cannot understand the reality of Jesus’ tears. The hyper-Calvinist is lulled to inactivity and apathy by a warped and unbiblical understanding of God’s sovereignty. He is also shown lacking by possessing an unbalanced and therefore unbiblical doctrine of man-he fails to affirm the importance of man in the plan of God to build the kingdom on this earth and desire to restore the image of Himself in man. He fails to see the importance of humankind and therefore fails to see the humanity of Christ. To the hyper-Calvinist, Christ is mostly divine and not equally God and man. To the hyper-Calvinist, Matthew 1:1-17 is merely a list and not a theological statement of the value and importance of man in building the Kingdom of God on earth. Matthew 1:1-17 affirms that one cannot be theocentric without also being anthrocentric. Because God matters, people matter as well. And if one doesn’t understand the importance of people, one doesn’t understand the importance of God. We simply don’t realize the value of mankind as Christ did. We don’t have a God-centered view of mankind so we are lacking as ministers. Such warped exegesis and skewed vision in our own lives accounts for our lack of empathy, understanding and sorrow for those in false belief in the black church. We fail to realize that we are God’s servants as Christ was to the world, to bring the gospel of peace in truth and love to the people of the black church.
Christ wept because the city that was to be faithful had again become unfaithful. Isaiah writes in 1:21-26 to the southern kingdom of Judah concerning their unfaithfulness in worshipping false gods: “How the faithful city become a whore, she who was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers. (22) Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water. (23) Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves; every one loves bribes, and follows after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them. (24) Therefore the Lord declares, Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will get relief from mine enemies, and avenge myself of my foes. (25) I will turn my hand against you, and thoroughly purge away your dross, and will take away all your alloy. (26) And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, a faithful city.” This faithful city is ultimately seen in Revelation 21. Christ also wept because He knew the excitement of the crowds did not correspond to genuine spiritual perception and that their unbelief would inevitably bring war, not peace as He desired. Jesus also wept because these were his own ethnic kinsmen. Therefore, Christ wept due to the unbelief of His kinsmen and the impending judgment upon their lives and the land. He wanted them to believe in Him but He was meet with rejection and hostility by His kinsman, by those whom the Father had covenanted with in the Old Testament.
We fail to realize the meaning and true pain of Christ’s tears. As reformed believers and particularly as black reformed believers, we should weep for our Christian brothers and sisters who are involved with false doctrine and false teachers. But we are much more comfortable disregarding the Divine purpose and usefulness of our fellow Christians. Too often, we simply bash false teachers and their followers and judge them in anger and neglect to love them with diligent patience. We heartlessly aim for their character and fail to weep for those who God so desperately seeks to use. We fail to communicate our love for them and we do not pray for them and their desperate situation. Our biblical assessments and application about them is devoid of the love, patience and care with which Christ dealt with Jerusalem and wept for Jerusalem. We do not minister lovingly nor are we ambassadors of truth but rather ambassadors of hostility and meanness. Christ brought peace and reconciliation through truth but we react to false doctrine with hearty displays of reformed elitism and hyper-Calvinist framework and interpretations. Instead of communicating with them personally and lovingly as a depiction of Christ’s ministry and change in our lives, we find ways to flaunt what little we do know and wrongly assume ourselves more favored by Christ than they. One cause of Christ’s sorrow was that He was a part of them in that He too was a Jew and they were His kinsmen.
We fail to realize the meaning and true pain of Christ’s tears. We are the conduits of instruction and illumination if we remain humble before Christians with false beliefs. But we disqualify ourselves if we attempt to minister without weeping hearts. Our sorrow should be obvious to our fellow reformed brothers and sisters. We should pray and weep together for our family members and friends who have gone astray.
However, because we are so unfamiliar with genuine sorrow in regard to false belief and strangers to our own feelings and emotions, our meager attempts at meeting their needs are posed with a condescending attitude and lack of true emotion and understanding. We wrongly and unbiblically devalue human emotions and feelings, consider their use in ministry as minor and merely “theologize” and diagnose those around us who are riddled with pain or false belief. They leave our offices, our homes, our places of worship and our lives the same way they came. Due to our lack of sorrow, our exegesis is often predominated by hyper-Calvinism and our application of Scripture is often misapplied, unholy and not God-centered. We fail to realize the meaning and true pain of Christ’s tears for if we understood Christ’s tears, we would find ourselves engaged in prayer and sorrow for our brothers and sisters whom we so desperately need along side us.
Co-Founder Michael Mewborn