Photo by abednego setio gusti on Unsplash
In recognition of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary, Reformed Margins will be reflecting on the five solas this October. The five solas are regarded by many as the five pillars of the Reformation, and we at Reformed Margins are proud to uphold these Reformed principles. For sola scriptura (Scripture alone), sola fide (faith alone), sola gratia (grace alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), and soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone) powerfully encapsulate the essence of our Protestant identity.
While we recognize that much ink has already been spilt expounding upon the five solas, the aim of our brief series is to reflect on them as people of color. For centuries, the five solas have served as unifying principles for the Reformed community to rally around. And yet, far from creating a cold and static uniformity, they have inspired unique and dynamic expressions of faithfulness across various cultures worldwide. Hence, Reformed Margins would like to recognize the Reformation’s 500th anniversary by celebrating and sharing some of these diverse expressions to the glory of God.
Previous articles in our series:
A few weeks ago, my six-year-old daughter came home from school and asked to look at a map.
My wife found one and then together we searched to find where we live. We had just moved to a new state, so I figured that my little one just wanted to to see where her new home was.
Then, after finding our little dot on the map, my daughter asked where Mexico was. We showed her.
She then started asking questions about how long it would take to get from our home in New York State to Mexico. We asked why she wanted to know.
In a matter-of-fact voice she told us a kid on her bus had informed her that President Trump said all Mexicans would have to go back to Mexico unless they had the right papers.
My little Philadelphian was mentally preparing to move to a country she had never even visited.
Wanting to see if my daughter was being bullied by someone at school, I asked if the girl on the bus was being mean or if she was concerned. My little girl said that the student on the bus was “like her” and was scared that she would have to leave.
I explained to her that she wasn’t a Mexican but a Mexican-American, which meant that she is a citizen of the United States and “had all the right papers.” I assured her that we would not have to move to Mexico no matter what the President said.
The Spirit of the Age
I wish my six-year-old didn’t have to think about these things. I wish these weren’t the concerns of children on school buses.
We’ve tried to protect her from the things that the President has said (think about the insanity of that statement!) and shielded her from the rising racial tensions in our country.
We’ve done our best not to concern her with adult matters; she’s only six.
But she’s seen the news. She’s heard some of the words of the President. And her friends on the bus are dealing with very grown-up problems.
This is the country my daughters are growing up in.
A country where morality is secondary to brashness and truth secondary to appealing to the base.
A country where loving laws is more important than loving people.
So how do I raise my six-year-old daughter in this, the country of her birth? How do I teach my little Latina to be a caring, compassionate Christian girl and woman.
I will teach her the great doctrine of Solus Christus, Christ alone.
I will teach her that Christ alone is the Good Shepherd who will lead her through this world. In a sea of competing voices, it is the voice of the Shepherd who will lead her on paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
I will teach her that Christ alone is the Good Shepherd who came for us, dwelled among us, died for us, and has risen again that we might rise with him. He alone is worthy to lead us.
And where is he leading? He is leading us to salvation and rest.
Salvation from what? Well, I will explain, most importantly it is salvation from the just wrath of God which burns against sin and injustice. His is a wrath that will not allow rebellion to go unchecked unpunished. The just wrath of God consigns all who persist in rebellion against him to hell.
I will also teach her that Christ will return one day and rescue us from the ungodly systems that human sin has created and perverted into weapons used to subjugate and dehumanize.
I will teach her that Christ alone saves her from her own sin and that he will also save her from hatred and bitterness, hopelessness and apathy.
I will teach her that Christ alone is able to save. How? He laid down his life for the sheep.
I’ll remind my daughter that He died for us. He rescues us through his own blood, through his own sacrifice. Our sins were placed on him, punished in him, cast away through him. And then he rose again from the dead, defeating death and offering life to all who trust in him as Lord and Savior!
Christ suffered for us and bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
Christ alone saved us by laying his life down for us. And as we follow in his steps, suffering in our pursuit of the Suffering One, we find salvation.
We’ve been brought to this road of suffering by the grace of God through the gift of faith that the Holy Spirit has worked within us.
But I want my daughter to know that our suffering is not unique. Many suffer. All suffer.
The difference — I will teach my daughter — is that Christians suffer unto joy! There is joy in Christ! Even in the midst of prejudice, fear, cruelty, and pain, our Union with Christ gives us joy that surpasses all understanding. Nothing else in the world is capable of delivering on the great promise of Joy.
I will teach my daughter that this joy is only possible when Jesus Christ is Lord.
When he is Lord, we are saved.
But when we are Lord,
when our pain is Lord,
when ethnicity is Lord,
when the hatred of others is Lord,
when the racism of others is Lord,
when the power of others is Lord then we are not walking in the way of salvation but in the way of destruction.
Jesus does not only offer us salvation. He offers his own resurrection life. He offers his rest.
“I am the door,” Jesus said. “If anyone enters by me he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”
What is pasture? Rest.
Jesus is harkening back to that great Psalm of David,
“The Lord is my shepherd
I shall not want
he makes me lie down in green pastures…
he restores my soul.”
I want to teach her that it is in Christ and Christ alone that she will find rest. My little girl can’t understand that now but I hope, as she starts to see the world in all of its brokenness and cruelty, she will find comfort and peace in the love and presence of Jesus Christ.
I hope she will understand that when everything and everyone else seems to stand against her, the Spirit of Jesus Christ is there for her.
That if she close her eyes and meditates on who Jesus is and what he has done for her she’ll find herself at rest, at home, at peace. I pray that she will be so filled with the goodness of God that she will not really eat in the pasture but lie down and rest.
Christ Alone in an Age of Prejudice
What my daughter encountered on the bus that day wasn’t direct prejudice. It wasn’t an overtly racist attack. It was the natural overflow of an age in which prejudice and racism have been normalized, cheered, and elected. It is the fruit of a poisonous tree planted by many gardeners and cultivated over many years.
While she is young, I will try to protect her from the worst of it. But I will also prepare her to cling to the glorious Christian truth; that salvation and rest will not be found in systems or in people, but in Christ and Christ alone.