In the midst of the current global pandemic, an economic recession, and a crisis of confidence in our leaders and institutions, our faith is being put to the test and the discord is dividing friends, family and Christians. Now is the time for us to look to God and recognize our reliance on him for answers and refuge rather than bitterly debating against each other and tearing the fabric of our unity in Christ. Instead communities are debating the severity of the pandemic, seeing color of skin rather than content of character, standing on their political identity and questioning when it is okay to break the law in the name of honoring Christ. Today we face possibly the most divisive days in decades, but the answers for getting through such turmoil are found in God’s Word.
As Christians, we need to look inward and upward. We need to look inward at our own hearts and be sure we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Do others see you first as a conservative or a liberal? Do you consider yourself first a Republican or a Democrat? Are we first an American rather than a citizen of Heaven? Do people first see us as a Marine, Soldier, Sailor, a member of the Air Force or Coast Guard? There is nothing wrong with Christians being involved in society and it’s a noble cause to protect the freedoms of others, but while we are citizens of the United States of America, we must daily examine our hearts, dig deeper in Scripture, and pray to our just and merciful Heavenly Father for guidance and stronger faith. Our citizenship resides first in the Kingdom of God. Our liberty was purchased, not by colonists almost 250 years ago, but by Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, who died on the Cross who died so we might be free from the burden of sin.
As Christians living in these turbulent times, we recognize social media can be a powerful tool for evil or good. We can use it to foster simplistic narratives that heighten our cultural and political divisions. Yet we can also use it as a powerful instrument for healing. We can spread God’s Word and heal the wounds of division through Blogs, Facebook, or Twitter but only if our posts promote reconciliation through Christ rather than taking a political stand. Consider pausing after you write something or post a meme on social media. Read it and ask yourself if the post identifies you first as a Christian, or does it identify you as a Democrat or Republican or as a liberal or conservative. If so, just press the “Delete” button.
We read in Isaiah 55 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” As Christians, we realize that we are unable to fully understand the wonders of this world and the wisdom of God…and we are content with that knowledge. The divisions in our country are complicated and deeply interwoven in the history that makes our country so unique. There’s a natural human desire for simplicity—to see our cultural and political battles as Good versus Evil, Us against Them. Christians recognize that the reality is different. There is pure evil in the world, to be sure, but bad people sometimes do good, and good people sometimes do bad. Many of our neighbors, and many among us, are simply afraid. We can’t let their fear identify us. Jesus promised, “I am with you. I will never leave you or abandon you”. No matter how bad it looks, you are NOT alone.
Times like these remind me of the words of Jesus’ brother in the Book of James, chapter 1 and verse 19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.“ Now is the time to think before we talk or write and to genuinely care about the soul of others. We also read in Philippians 2, verse 4 to not look to our own interests, but each of us to the interests of others. Do your actions demonstrate your love for others and for God? Our attitude and behavior towards others just might determine their attitude towards us, and toward the God we serve. Thoughtful, loving conversations, where we care about the heart of others, while not compromising the Word of God, can lead to the resolution of conflicts instead of making them more bitter and protracted. Pray for God’s guidance and for opportunities to foster these conversations and help our neighbors see the answer to our nation’s sickness is already in their midst.
Our Savior is the answer. Our neighbors may not see or hear Jesus unless they see and hear Him through us.