Friday, April 21, 2006

Our Legacy Begins in Jerusalem

"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" (Acts 1:8).
Our Lord's words to the disciples as they gathered for His ascension served as the strategical foundation for apostolic ministry in the book of Acts. According to these prophetic words, we see that the spread of the church followed this three-tiered development, "in Jerusalem (3:1-8:1), to Judea and Samaria, even Antioch (8:1-12:25), and ultimately to the ends of the earth (13:1-28:31)." Here we have a strategy based upon the premise that the work of the ministry must be firmly laid at home, or in our immediate context, and then from there it gains influence, strength, and has success in transforming the world to the Glory of God. Recently someone asked me if I had a strategy for leaving a legacy and reaching the next generation of African-Americans with Reformed Theology. Indeed I do and it flows from the strategy set forth by our Lord at his ascension and it begins at home.
The Lord is calling us to be witnesses of His power and His truth. The calling has not changed. Being convinced of the Biblical accuracy of Reformed theology, the truth of God starts there. But where do I start dispensing it? The answer is "in Jerusalem." In other words, I begin where I am, at home. If Reformed Theology is true then it must first be reflected in me and my family. I am called to witness the truth and power of God under my roof, with my wife and kids. We must not miss the importance of this foundational principle. If God's truth and power is not effective in changing the way I love my wife and parent my kids, then I have failed to be a witness of my ascended Lord. It must start at home. The passing along of Reformed Theology to my children is first and foremost in my eyes.
Most of us are first generation Reformed Christians. Very few among us have had the blessed privilege of having grandparents, or even parents pass along the Reformed faith. Consequently, I must be aware of the necessity of laying a solid foundation upon which this legacy of gospel truth and conviction can stand.
My challenge begins with making sure that my wife does not see hypocrisy in my life. My ministry in public must be an accurate reflection of my ministry at home. The Reformed theology that I preach must also be the Reformed theology my wife sees and knows that I practice. As Reformed African-Americans we can not underestimate or take lightly the importance of building solid familial relationships from which to spread the gospel. We are all too aware of the horrifying statistics of the disintegration of the Black family in America. Yet, we must insist that these statistics be not representative of our families. If the Black family is to be redeemed, it must first be redeemed under my roof. As a Reformed Christian I must commit to being a husband who loves and sacrifices for his wife (Eph. 5:25ff). My wife must be a women who respects and submits to her husband (Eph. 5:22-24). I must be a father who provides for and trains up his children to love, glory, and hope in Christ (Eph. 6:4). How hypocritical of us to believe that we can take Reformed Theology to the ends of the world, or even the black community, before we have consistently and intentionally taken it to Jerusalem, namely our own homes? Brothers and sisters, this is no light matter.
There are too many men, young and old, seeking to proclaim the truths of the gospel and Reformed theology, but neither the gospel or their theology has made much impact upon their relationship with their wife and kids. Away with this foolishness! Here's a strategy for reaching the next generation, start by reaching your spouse and your kids. My strategy is simple. I want my son to take Reformed Theology to places I could only dream of. I want my son and daughters to introduce people to Reformed Theology that I could have only dreamed of meeting. But first they must fall in love with Reformed Theology. They must fall in love with it because it is the most biblically consistent expression of God known to humanity. But not only that, they must also fall in love with it because they loved how reformed theology caused me to love them. They must love Reformed Theology because of the way it caused me to love their mother. They must love it because of the way it instructed their mother to lovingly and joyfully submit to their father in all things. As we continue the discussion for the future of Reformed theology among African-Americans, let us not neglect to speak biblically about the need to lay a foundation in Jerusalem before we articulate these grand visions of the end of the earth. Train your children first! Love and instruct your wife first! And if God gives you leave and time, perhaps you will be able to reach out to Judea and Samaria. And if He is merciful and gracious, perhaps you will see some fruits in other parts of the world. But whether or not He gives such leave and time, and whether or not He is so merciful and gracious, the primary task is to make sure that those within our immediate sphere of influence are being changed and encouraged by these truths because they see we have been so changed by them.
Believe it or not my friends, I have no grand visions of personally reaching all of Black America with Reformed Theology. My vision is for the equipping of my son and daughters for that task. My immediate goal is Jerusalem, though I am well aware of the need and am preparing should God call me to minister for a time in Judea and Samaria. Yet my legacy begins in Jerusalem. I must make sure those walls are standing strong first.
So, if you are in Judea and Samaria, and have your eyes set upon the rest of the world, and yet your Jerusalem is falling apart, my message to you is "Get back Home!" God is not impressed. And when those to whom you minister find out, they will not be impressed either.


Michael Mewborn said...

Anthony, this blog really impacted me. Thank you for the discerning and wise message. Now let me get off this computer and GO HOME!

Nan said...

I appreciate your perspective!!

Looking through your profile I can't tell what denomination you minister in. Are you in the PCA?
My husband is a PCA minister.

I'm always happy to find good reformed blogs that I can link on my blog.


ajcarter said...

Hello Nan,
So encouraged by your visit. No I am not in the PCA (though it is not a stretch to assume I am). The PCA is the denomination with which I would most identify. Please stop by anytime and share your thoughts. Thanks again.

Vikki said...

I'm just loving this particular post. I have been convicted by this same though, and decided to delete my own blog, because I first need to keep it "real" in my own home, first!

I know you were speaking to men in particular, but I saw how it applied to me as a christian married to an unbeliever.

ajcarter said...

Hello Vikki,
So good to hear from you again. I pray God will honor your labors as you seek to be a 1Peter 3:1-2 woman.