Editor’s Note: Over the next two weeks, we are featuring several messages from Cornerstone University’s undergrad chapel, which engage the topics of justice, race, reconciliation and love (listen to all CU chapel messages here). Today’s message is by Kenneth Russell, director of diversity and multicultural affairs at CU. With each message, we’ve provided a “Talking Points Takeaway” as a point of reflection as we prepare for the April 26 Talking Points conference on Justice + Unity: Toward the Healing of a Fractured Church. Register today to attend the conference.
Talking Points Takeaway: Working toward justice and unity will be met with opposition.
When we’re met with opposition, what do we do?
In Kenneth Russell’s sermon, he relates what happens when God gives us a dream for our participation in God’s kingdom vision. More specifically, he walks us through what it means to be obedient to God’s dream in spite of opposition.
To highlight this, Russell parallels the life of Joseph (Genesis 37-50) with the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. God had given each of them dreams and both of them faced opposition when they shared the dream with others. This is because, as Russell points out, “revelation creates revolution,” and “God speaks to create change.” Naturally, then, “dreamers disrupt the status quo,” which generates opposition from those who want to uphold the present order.
Dr. King’s dream was a vision where people in America could come together in community, abandoning our consumerism, racism and militarism for justice, hope and love. Joseph’s dream was a vision where the older would serve the younger so that the younger (Joseph) could sustain his family through famine.
Both were God-directed dreams that would result in people’s flourishing, but it would also mean disrupting the present experience of many in order to bring in the new vision. This is why people resist, Russell explains. Good change requires sacrifice, but people do not want to sacrifice present power or comfort for future change. But though resistance will come, “resistance cannot curtail revelation.” Russell helps us see that if it’s truly God’s dream, then people can discourage or kill the dreamer, but not the dream. The dream will live on since God is always intimately involved and in control. We simply do our part and press on in spite of opposition.
Some received Dr. King and Joseph, but more opposed them. Two times it says that Joseph’s brothers hated him and 63% of Americans opposed what Dr. King was doing. In these times, Russell challenges, we must “feed our faith and not our fear.” We must trust in God’s kingdom vision and not be overcome by our fears.
Listen to the whole sermon here.