I went to bed with a heavy heart and woke up feeling much the same. After a quick scan of news headlines from the whole political spectrum, the one thing just about everybody agrees on is that the “Presidential” debate last night was not a debate and was terrible. With all the issues facing our nation crying out for solutions, the two men who would be our next President offered up a shouting match with traded insults, without substance, nothing more. It was an embarrassing display of American politics at its worst. I wondered if Jerry Springer was going to step out of the wings to take the moderator’s chair. (Not really, but it would have been fitting.)
Christian, I hope that this debacle finally dispels the persistent notion that we can ‘save our country’ by electing the right kind of candidate. Our hope is not in a party or a candidate, it rests on our Savior. The salvation of any nation, including the America I truly love, does not come from a party platform. Transformation of individuals results from knowing and serving the One who came to ‘save us from our sins.’ We know that, now it is time for us to live it. Let’s begin to be who we say we are, the people of God!
Since it is clear to me that leaders will not or cannot unite us, I pray that a true grassroots movement will emerge that works hard at teaching people to listen and learn! We must begin to engage those with whom we differ beyond Facebook posts and Twitter tweets. I, a suburban, conservative, old white man, need to hear the heart of a young, urban black man. He needs to hear me. I need to hear the words of that young woman who thinks my “Jesus” is a symbol of patriarchy and she needs to hear my conviction that He is the Lover everybody needs. IF we just keep shouting (last two guys did last night) everybody loses in the end.
Nobody is better equipped for inviting others to this kind of interaction than Christians. We are disciples of the Man who is the Prince of Peace. We are secured by His unwavering love so we need not be shaken by rage aimed at us. Please do not tell me, “Jerry, that’s just utopian nonsense. This is war.” We have had enough of that rhetoric even from church leaders. Fear has overwhelmed even Christians, robbing us of reason, of the ability to reach out past our convictions, to attempt to understand. Those on the ‘other side’ are equally fearful. Last’s night’s verbal brawl in Cleveland was a revelation of the critical state of communications in our country. We, you and me, can do better, starting right where we are.
And, we must pray! Most Christians say that prayer changes things and yet do little of it. Oh yes, we pray for our kids to be blessed. We ask God to heal Grandma. We occasionally pray for somebody who is some kind of trouble. Real prayer is needed. Prayer is not just words, it is a lifestyle. Jesus warned about making prayer into words that we babble over and over, thinking God is impressed with our “hallelujahs.” Prayer is a connection to God that we keep through every moment that allows us to bring Heaven to earth. I confess that I do not like most Christian prayer meetings. They leave me cold, often irritated, because they turn into little speeches to God, mostly formed for the ears of those in the audience. Our prayers must be for God’s ears alone. No wonder Jesus said that we need to get off the streets and into a private room when we pray! There we can get honest and hopefully hear the Spirit’s voice that whispers of grace amazing.
Yes, Christian, this is a unique opportunity to become who we say we are – the people of the Lord. Drawing on His strength, living in His love, knowing His peace, we can step into this day with serenity, hope, and encouragement. Will we?
Let this word from the Word speak to you today. “So we have stopped evaluating others by what the world thinks about them. Once I mistakenly thought of Christ that way, as though he were merely a human being. How differently I think about him now! What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun! All this newness of life is from God, who brought us back to himself through what Christ did. And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ’s ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, “Be reconciled to God!”” (2 Corinthians 5:16-20, NLT)
Father in Heaven,
I renew my worship of Your majesty,
Asking You to lift me above my fear.
Spirit of God, steady me, making me that person You desire.
You know my heart, my fears, my loves, my sins.
Teach me to live with faith, hope, and love.
I pray for this troubled world, full of strife and division.
With St. Francis I pray to be an “instrument of Your peace.”
Give me patience, endurance, and help me to live with integrity.
Jesus, I ask that You will be seen in me,
For the glory of God. Amen