July 9, 2015
There have been times in our country’s history when we have actually been fairly united. Certainly the years following Pearl Harbor come to mind. And the weeks and maybe months following 9/11. And we were united in our grief and sadness after November 22, 1963 and January 28, 1986. But outside of the years leading up to and including the Civil War, and maybe the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam “Conflict” in the 1960’s, I wonder if our country has ever been as divided as it is now? Seriously, my history isn’t that strong so maybe I need to be corrected. And frankly it could be that you just don’t agree with me. But it looks like serious, spiraling-out-of-control, division to me.
I know many of us have different “friends” on face book and other types of social media. I would say my “friends” are probably as diverse as anyone’s. It only takes a cursory look at the computer to see the division… angry, bitter, hateful, division. There are those who are proudly flying the Confederate Flag. And there are those proudly displaying their rainbow colors… And there is little concern by anyone for whom they may be hurting or offending, or hating.
I have “friends” who are eager to say disparaging things about the current and past President or about those in a different political party from them. Let me say that a little differently… I have “friends” who are eager to say “hateful” things about our current and past Presidents and those in different parties. I’m going to guess that they might deny their “hateful” feelings, but frankly I question their sincerity in that.
Well, the truth is this blog is not really intended to speak to non believers. So I have little to say to them. But to those claiming Christ as their Lord… well…
Years ago there was a man in my life who made things miserable for me. I struggled and struggled to know how to deal with him. Then one day… DUH… the light came on. Pray for him. Not prayers like, “God would you change him.” But prayers like, “God would you bless him in ways that he does not deserve or foresee.” Those were very hard words to pray! Guess what? His behavior changed completely. NOT! He didn’t change at all. But I did. My heart softened and I had a personal stake in his life since he was a subject of prayer for me.
I don’t know where the line is, but sometimes our attitudes spill over from dismay and disagreement… to… well…. Hatred. I think that’s a problem. A serious problem.
Then there’s this sticky verse in Matthew:
Matthew 5:“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
The difficult question before us is, how do we love others with whom we disagree and think their behavior is ungodly? Especially when we live in a culture that teaches that if you disagree with someone’s opinions or lifestyle, you must hate them. Why is that, by the way? Simply because it suits an agenda where we can dismiss another’s opinions by simply calling them hateful. The world does not understand how we can love and disagree all at the same time. Truth is, we don’t understand it very well either. Straightforward example: our own children. I do not agree with my kids on a variety of issues, but I love the heck out of them and I’m pretty sure they know that.
So Christian people… what to do, what to do? First of all, let’s be clear. We no longer live in a predominately “Christian country,” if we ever did. What many of us might think of as “Christian values” are on the wane, and rapidly so. If you are one who thinks there is revival around the corner, I have some property to sell you in the Everglades. That being said, I do believe, like in the Old Testament, there will always be a remnant of God’s people as a witness. But we are moving into uncharted, secular territory.
I suspect that the role we will have to play and the reputation that we must foster in the not too distant future (if not now) will be as “lovers of others,” even those with whom we disagree. Not, naysayers who foment hatred and division. So, the next time you want to say something hateful toward someone who doesn’t agree with you… well… read Matthew 5 again. Then ask yourself if your thoughts are the thoughts of Jesus.