More often than I would like to admit, I find myself questioning how I understand the world in which I live. We certainly are living in an era of epic changes in public policy and private morality. Even the basic issues of life – the meaning of life, the form of marriage, and how we maintain our human relationships– are being redefined in ways that I find incomprehensible. Before you conclude that I am just a cranky old man, please understand that I know that change is the only constant in life. We must learn and adapt or perish. I get that. However, when humanity assumes the place of the Almighty and substitutes ‘what I think is right’ for the eternal Truths, no good can follow.
As a result of the changes, America has become a deeply divided nation. Perhaps we would have to go back to the 1850’s when slavery was tearing the country apart to find hostility as deep as it is in our time. One of the things I find most tragic about these times is that we speak in militant tones and describe our challenges as a ‘culture war.’ Must we go to war? Is our fear so strong that the only response we can muster is to attempt to overpower those who think differently? Why are we so quick to shout at those on the other side of an issue often with demeaning or hateful remarks?
Christian, we are called to peace. That does not mean we accommodate every new idea or compromise our principles. Living as people who promote peace does require that we always think of those who hold opposing views as persons worthy of being treated with respect. Shouting at those with whom we differ accomplishes nothing except to make the chasm between us deeper and wider. Huddling in a circle of people who echo our sentiments makes us feel ‘safe’ but that choice keeps us from knowing and growing.
We have a high calling in this torn up nation. It is defined by Jesus who tells us to be ‘salt and light.’ Salt, in His time, was more than a flavor. It was a preservative that kept food from rot. Are we functioning in ways that are loving, sacrificial, and serving that are preserving life? Light always defeats darkness. Darkness cannot overcome light. Even a tiny candle continues to shine in a warehouse full of darkness.
How can we best interact with our world? James, the pastor of First Church in Jerusalem, taught that congregation about standing up to hostility. “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.” (James 3:13-17, NLT)
That paragraph needs to be etched into our consciousness. Before we post an inflammatory statement on Facebook we need to ask ourselves “Does this reflect godly wisdom? Does it promote peace? Is it gentle? Does it show mercy?” Before we sound off about ‘those people’ (whomever that may be to us) we need to pray for true wisdom that is best shown in an honorable life, in goodness that flows out of humility!
Here is a profound word from the Word for us. May we hear it and be shaped by the wisdom of God. “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” (Matthew 5:9, The Message) “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16, The Message)
Lord I Need You
Lord I come, I confess,
Bowing here, I find my rest.
And without You, I fall apart,
You’re the one that guides my heart.
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You!
Ev’ry hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness,
Oh God, how I need You.
Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more.
Where grace is found, is where You are.
And where You are, Lord, I am free.
Holiness is Christ in me!
So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way.
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You,
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay.
Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher
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