November 21, 2019

What I Read Today;

1 Corinthians 13; Mark 12; Ezekiel 47-48; Proverbs 3-4; 2 Chronicles 19-20; Numbers 30

Unless your living under a rock somewhere you know about the impeachment hearings of the President of the United States.  I’m going to start off by stating that I am not a fan of the President.  I also wasn’t a fan of his opponent in 2016.  I voted for the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, we can continue.  I have to say that I am deeply disturbed by what I see in our society today.  We have seen a rise in mass shootings, gang violence, divorce, broken homes, and a general breakdown of decorum in our society.

If our politics are simply a reflection of our society, then we are in deep trouble.   In the 1980s, there was a particularly rancorous debate about the federal budget.  The government was shut down for a while.  Both sides were entrenched for weeks before an agreement was reached.  After the bill passed, Ronald Reagan wrote this in his diary:

Wednesday, July 29, 1981

“The whole day was given to phone calls to Congressmen except for a half dozen to name Ambassadors. I went from fearing the worst to hope we’d squeak through. As the day went on though somehow there was a feel that something good was happening. Then late afternoon came word the Senate had passed its tax bill (ours) 89 to 11. Then from the house where all the chips were down—we won 238-195. We got 40 Dem. votes. On final passage almost 100 joined the parade making it 330 odd to 109 or thereabouts. This on top of the budget victory is the greatest pol. win in half a century. Tip O’Neil & his leadership called me and with complete graciousness, congratulated us on our win. Now we must make it work—and we will.” From the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.

It was also well known that while O’Neil and Reagan were bitter political rivals that they would occasionally take time to sit down over a beer together.  Those days seem to be over.

We are into an era where taking revenge on political opponents has become a blood sport.  Politicians have now found that playing for the camera and torching people on social media can drive results.  We are not even attempting to appeal to the best in people. We are actually are doing everything we can to the depths of the worst in people.  We trash people’s motives without even knowing who they are.

Worst yet, we see this in the church.  If we have a disagreement, we go nuclear.  Rather than following the example of Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:36-41, and merely going our separate ways, we now seek to force others into following our beliefs.

The Apostles were faced with a situation in Acts chapter 15 where charges were flying about the gentile believers not following Jewish customs.  Their verdict was that since God gave them the Holy Spirit, how could, they could not force Jewish requirements onto them.  Rather than listening to what the disciples ruling was, many Judaizers went out and attacked the new churches causing one of the first real rifts within the church.

Jesus’ disciples attempted to stop someone who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name.  This was his response, 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone[a] casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.” NRSV

If we have these words of Jesus and the disciples, how is then that we are now in a situation that we start attacking people and calling them names like heretic, homophobe, misogynist, and false prophet.  Maybe, it’s easier to start a fight then it is to go out and spread the Gospel?

Now, to be clear, I am not saying that we should not promote our beliefs and stand by our convictions.  What I am saying is that we should stop responding with hate-filled emotions.  The church must start applying the words of 1 Corinthians 13 vs. 4-7 before it speaks.

Before you write that next tweet ask yourself some questions;

  1. Are your words, patient?
  2. Are you kind?
  3. Are you envious?
  4. Are you boasting?
  5. Are you arrogant?
  6. Are you insisting that it’s my way or the highway?
  7. Does it come off as irritable or resentful?
  8. Are you participating in or celebrating something wrong?
  9. Is your the truth you are speaking coming off as rejoicing or finger-pointing?
  10. Are we bearing with those we disagree with?  Do we show them, love?
  11. Do we believe the best in those we disagree with?  Do we actually want the best for them, or are we hoping for the worst?
  12. Are we hoping that even those who hate the church and want nothing to do with Jesus, will ultimately come to be a believer?  Are we praying for those who openly hate Christianity?  Even those who kill Christians?  Even those who seek the demise of the Christian Church?
  13. Are we enduring all things in this world in the hopes of saving as many as we can?  Are we proclaiming the Gospel to everyone we can through our actions and deeds?  Do we seek to show God’s love and grace to everyone because we love people so much that it is our mission to see all people come to a saving knowledge of Christ?

I wonder what would happen if Christians began to think deeply about the words of 1 Corinthians 13 before they spoke, tweeted, or posted?  I wonder how those in Congress would act if they took these words to heart?

Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement over Mark.  It caused them to separate.  But at the end of his life, Paul asked for Mark to come to him while writing 2 Timothy.

In other words, Paul got over it.  Paul proved that while it is OK to disagree.  It is never OK to let hate destroy relationships.

If you are as concerned as I am about what is going on in our world, then we have the power to do something about it.  As individual Christians, we have the ability to affect those around us.  Church, we can influence people by our behavior.  If we want this to stop, it starts with you and me!  Let’s take the challenge together.  Let’s start today by showing the love of Jesus Christ in all our dealings.  Let’s denounce the hate-filled rhetoric from both sides, that we see from our leaders.  Become the shining example of what Christ wants us to be, not what the world is.

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