motivated death and a sons challenge to rescue the perishing
Ive never liked riding public
transportation or getting messages telling me to phone home immediately.
Both bring back memories that are unpleasant.
With tears streaming down
my face, my heart pumping rapidly from anxiety, I ride past another
bus stop. My whole world is so fragile in that moment and about
to be blown up in the next. I wonder how a 9-year-old can live through
the most devastating announcement of his life. School has ended prematurely
for me that day as my own cousin gathered other kids around me on the
playground to echo the taunt, "Your daddys dead, your daddys
dead!" Once I get off the bus and walk home, my worst fears are
confirmed by my grandmother. She tells me that my dad had been murdered
the night before. And the way he was murdered is almost as disturbing
as the loss itself
My father was driving home late
that night from IBM, where he was working as a chemical engineer. As
he drove down Stevens Creek Boulevard in San Jose, Calif., two policemen
pulled him over for a supposed speeding violation. What ensued became
the substance for a major lawsuit and court battle. These policemen
brutalized my father and shot him in the back as he ran for his life.
He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. My dad was simply
in the wrong place at the wrong time and, in the estimation of the officers,
he was the wrong color.
Racial profiling is a term used
to describe the tragedy my family experienced. The above incident would
scar me for years and is still as ugly to me now as it was then. Ignoring
a persons life and despising a destiny all based upon ones
personal prejudices and pride is repulsive.
Matthew 9:35-38 says: "Jesus
went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues,
and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness
and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes,
he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were
scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his
disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few;
pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers
into his harvest."
In this passage Jesus was walking
through the marketplaces of various towns. He saw a diverse crowd that
was altogether different from Him. They were separated from His Father,
while He was obviously connected. Interestingly, He then
told His disciples to become harvesters of lost souls.
Our churches today desperately need
Christs prophetic vision for our cities and various people groups.
Spiritual profiling is judging people on the basis of their ethnicity,
socio-economic level, or type of sin, then ignoring their eternal life
and despising their spiritual destiny. Most Christians would never kill
anyone, no matter how different they might be. But these same Christians
may withhold the eternal cure for the spiritual cancer that is bringing
about eternal death all around them.
The one thing that is absent both
from the police officers who shot my dad and from the Christians who
dont reach out to homosexuals or the homeless is compassion. Matthew
tells us that when Jesus saw the crowd He had compassion on them. God
is dealing with the hearts of His people who fail to rise up in compassion.
Many well-meaning saints sit in homogenous churches, never building
redemptive relationships with sinners they classify as different from
The prophet Jonah was the original
spiritual profiler; he avoided a potential harvest of souls because
of the Ninevites nationality. It was as if Jonah said, "Satan,
you can have Nineveh." Jonah wrote off the Ninevites; some believers
have written off individuals who are bound with certain perversions
or addictions. Jonah went in the opposite direction from where he was
called; many churches have moved into the suburbs while they have a
call to the urban areas.
I praise God for all the churches
crossing the lines of poverty, race and "less respectable"
sins in order to win souls and bring life to those who are perishing.
That is what the Pentecostal movement was founded upon: all races, socio-economic
levels, and people who were formerly bound by sin worshipping together
under one roof. The Azusa Street Mission and its revival were Gods
gifts to the modern church. The legacy is not only a baptism of power
but also a baptism of love.
Satan wants to block the effectiveness
of the church of the new millennium by biasing Gods laborers.
As God showed Peter in Acts 10:28, we cannot call any man common or
unclean. As Peter overcame his biases and received a harvest that day,
so must you and I.
Being like Jesus means feeling what
He feels. Jesus was never motivated by the clothes people wore, the
salaries they earned, or the types of vehicles they used. Jesus was
even accused of receiving and welcoming sinners into His presence
even going so far as to eat with them. We need to see the way Jesus
sees. A reconciler sees people as they may become someday rather than
focusing on who they are.
In the church today, we need an
attitude of equal-opportunity love that says, "It doesnt
matter what race you are, what lifestyle youre stuck in, or what
side of the tracks you come from. The Spirit of Christ in me will move
toward you in compassion." That love knows no limitations and will
go the distance.
Jesus told the story of the Good
Samaritan, admonishing His hearers to not allow their cultural biases
to affect them. American culture has switched the price tags, valuing
more highly the affluent, the prominent and the attractive. But even
if people ring up "zero" on societys cash register,
we must remember that God has bankrupted all of glory to purchase them.
That day in the marketplace, Jesus
was moved with compassion for the lost because they were like sheep
without a shepherd. Jesus saw those "sinners" prophetically,
already referring to them as sheep even though they were still outside
of His flock. His redemptive vision opened the door for their salvation.
Our challenge in this hour is to target the "less desirable"
crowd and to cross over all barriers to fulfill Gods end-time
mandate to win souls.
is a full-time evangelist and director of Spiritual Life at Bethany
College (Assemblies of God) in Scotts Valley, Calif.
Sean Smith Ministries, Pointblank
International, is located in San Ramon, Calif.