In Genesis, when Adam and Eve fell to temptation and brought sin into the world, it caused the breakdown of four key relationships: 1) between man and God; 2) man and self; 3) man and others; and 4) man and the rest of creation. The advance of God's kingdom seeks to reconcile each of these broken relationships. When I reflect on the life and ministry of Jesus, I sometimes think solely about the reconciliation Christ brings between man and God. Some Christians might say that's the only relationship that really matters. And while I agree wholeheartedly that our relationship with God is central to everything else in our lives, I believe Christ's reconciliation and the advance of the kingdom has a broader scope than just that. Christ also seeks to bring healing and change to society and its institutions, to mankind's relationships, and to the stewardship of the world around us. This means having a broader view of Christ's reconciliation in society. The fact of the matter is that we see the effects of breakdown in each of these areas of life around us, things such as hedonism, self-hatred, racism, oppression, reverse-racism, poverty, famine, etc., are just some of the signs. Each of these things are unbiblical, contrary to God's kingdom, and will be made right in His time. Colossians 1:20 states "For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him (Christ), and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Part of being the people of God and bearers of the good news then is that we support the reconciliation and change of our society toward kingdom values enabling people inside and outside the church to see and experience Christ's reconciliation and God's kingdom through us. This includes standing for justice and supporting the healing of the broken relationship between man and his fellow man. The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and other acts of racism against minorities and people of color are clear acts of injustice that should not be tolerated and should call for condemnation and accountability. Likewise, social structures in our country that perpetuate racism and discrimination need systemic change. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that everything and everyone in the system is corrupt and I'm not condoning violent protest. Colossians 1:17 says that Christ "holds all things together." This means thankfully, that despite mankind's sinfulness, Christ keeps things from falling apart completely. I also don't agree with the agenda of every activist, protest or protestor. But as the people of God, we are called to stand for justice, for the oppressed, and to advocate for healing and reconciliation. God is a God of justice, fairness, and standing up for what is right. Psalm 99:4 says "The King is mighty, he loves justice - you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right." Like Pastor Kory has alluded to recently, I am proud to see that most of the protests in our local communities have been peaceful. While I am not very experienced in social justice or public protests, I want to align with God's heart on the issues. Racism is wrong any way you look at it. And I believe protesting against it, and standing for racial equality and reconciliation, is close to God's heart. Jeremiah 9:24 says "but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight." May God grant us wisdom and guidance as we learn to be agents of justice and reconciliation in a broken world that so desperately needs Him. God bless, Pastor Darren