It is no secret that we are a people and nation in turmoil. My heart is breaking along with many others. Rather than just shaking my head at the news and walking away, today I have shed many tears in prayer. Prayer for all of the families who have lost loved ones. Prayer for our police force, and our nation. Like many, we wonder; how did we fall so far?
Over the years, instead of being a society who holds differing beliefs on any given topic yet remains united…at least respectful in most, we have become fractured. Broken. Far from united. Friends, we are at the precipice. And unless we want to fall off and be destroyed…we had better all work at becoming united once again…and quickly. That does not mean we all think alike, nor does it mean we always agree with each other. But we do need to learn…re-learn how to handle conflict without tearing others down and destroying one another.
How our Savior’s heart must be breaking over what we have become. Yes, even His church. We too, have become hateful, critical and self-righteous…no better than the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Oh there is plenty to be angry at. You won’t get an argument from me there. But it is what we do with that anger that matters. We are not to sin in our anger, (Ephesians 4:26-32 ).
“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20 NKJV
Please let that sink in…as I have had to…be quick to listen. Listen to the heart behind the words. Slow to speak…don’t just shoot off our immediate opinion. Slow to wrath…don’t be so quick to get angry, because in our anger and wrath, it will NOT produce the desired outcome…the righteousness of God. His Word is still true friends. The rules and principles He set forth still need to be applied and lived out in our lives today. But we’re far too quick to think they need to be applied to someone else rather than ourselves ( that Pharisee thing again).
We all have different opinions…and that is okay. We are God’s unique creation, yet each with different personalities, mannerisms, thoughts, styles of learning, etc. etc. What is not okay is to be rude and hateful when someone has an opinion different from our own. What ever happened to “agree to disagree…respectfully”? For one, it’s only basic human decency to do so. For two, as Christ followers, we are called to a higher standard. But sadly, as individuals, and as a body, we have not been doing a great job of living out that higher standard. I have definitely not always lived out that higher standard myself. I am learning to take my time and respond rather than react immediately.
“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.” 1 Peter 1:15 NIV
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 NKJV
For every good thing about the World Wide Web, there are probably at least a half dozen bad things about it. Oh how quickly half truths, blatant lies, and horrible images can be spread. News journalists don’t even have to check facts anymore….at least it seems that way. They spin the stories to highlight the negative or presumed intention to stir people up. The media, though it can be good to be informed, they easily have everyone in an uproar….even inciting riots, before all the facts are even in. Friends…
Let’s not be part of that problem.
With social media, we are just as guilty as the news media in inciting anger and hatred.
Think about that. Think about all of the political memes that are posted and shared. Do they inform with useful information…or are they just plain mean? It’s not harmless. It is perpetuating the attitude that has gotten us to where we are as a society today. I have some very strong opinions about our government and political candidates, but I learned….the hard way….a few years ago, that social media is NOT the place to have those discussions. No good comes of it. Even when we do have those discussions outside of social media, the same rules apply;
- Let others have their opinions
- Respectfully share your own
- If necessary, kindly change the subject.
As a Christian, we are still called to….
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:29-30
For every sarcastic political meme, for every heated opinion fired off in anger to or about someone, for every person who has justly or unjustly lost their life……they are ALL someone’s child, parent, sibling, friend. And whether they are black, white, Hispanic or any other ethnicity, whether they wear a uniform or not………they all…..
We. All. Bleed. Red.
Whether upstanding citizen or thug…honest businessman or crooked politician…rich or poor…each and every one was created in the image of God, and each life matters.
We should grieve, each and every time a life is tragically lost…no matter who it is. I am not saying we have to throw our personal opinions out the window. But I am saying we need to be kind with each other’s hearts. As believers in Christ, we do need to speak truth when it is hard. But remember…
“Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.” Warren Wiersbe
I was reflecting today on the story of the woman at the well in Samaria, John chapter 4. “But Samaritan society had been degraded and debased by years of false religion and immorality. Samaritans had a definite sense that they were sinners.” (Twelve Extraordinary Women by John Macarthur). They were outcasts. Yet Jesus went out of his way to reveal Himself as the awaited Messiah to an adulteress woman…and a sinful society. Even more astonishing in that culture, not only was he talking to a woman who was “unclean”, but he also drank from an unclean woman’s unclean vessel! What does that mean for you and me?
When. When will we get out of our comfortable churches and homes and neighborhoods to show Jesus to others who desperately need Him…instead of condemning them? Believe me, just like the Samaritans, people are usually well aware of their own unworthiness without us holding it over their heads. Jesus did confront her sin, and she must have repented. Because of her witness, many in that society believed in Jesus. What we need to be doing as believers is to be following Jesus’ example and loving the unlovely. Love the hurting.
We seem to politely avoid having these real conversations with others. What if we opened up the discussion and started to have some real dialog with neighbors or others we don’t see eye to eye with? What if we genuinely asked for their opinion, and respectfully really listened? What miracles could happen?
Being real? I’m still learning too. I’m not entirely sure myself how to do this. But I know that once we are personally convicted of changes God wants to make in us, and we are willing, He will be faithful to show us the next step. I know we need to start living out the truth of God’s Word…the details…the small stuff.
Because the small stuff is really big stuff.
Show love to a neighbor. Show love to those you think don’t deserve it…because they need it most.
“You are the light of the world. A city that set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14,16
The phrase “set on a hill” means “in a prominent place”. Our nation needs help. If all Christians started truly living the Gospel…we are each in a prominent place to be the light of Jesus to those who desperately need Him…for such a time as this.
Please take your time and read Romans 12:9-21. I write it out here because I want you to see it now, and pray that God would help each of us truly live it. People are hurting, and we need to be living and giving the love of Jesus.
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceable with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Friends, let’s help each other. The saying; “It begins with me” is so true. One tiny drop of water will send ripples out far and wide. If each of us were ourselves that tiny drop of God’s love to the hurting around us, think of the ripples to be spread far and wide! In our words, in our actions, let’s be the living Gospel to those around us…and on social media. Let’s make a difference in the lives around us, because we are changed. Let the first battle we fight…be on our knees.