Does anyone else want to hit the reset button on the year 2020? Have you pinched yourself yet to make sure that this isn't just a bad dream? Does the calendar seem like some kind of sadistic mine field where each day that we mark off may trigger some new cataclysmic event that will make the last pail in comparison? Maybe it is just me.
In all reality though, this has been a year that just seems to bring challenge after challenge. We now find ourselves still maneuvering through Covid-19 while attempting to figure out as a nation how to navigate the waters of social injustice and indeed even define what justice is. Issues of racism, equality, and safety have once again been thrust into the arena of social opinion, topics that deserve serious consideration but rarely bring peace.
As I write this, I had to stop to turn my phone off from screaming about the curfew in place for this evening. Ideas vary so much about the best way to bring attention, to affect change, to honor those who have been negatively affected, and yes those who have lost their life.
So where does this put us as Christians? How do we respond in this time?
1) Remember that we are not a people to be ruled by our emotions!
Is it okay to be upset, even to be outraged? Absolutely! What it is not okay to do is to respond out of anger.
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
5 Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
This means me and this means you. This means before I open my mouth, clinch my fist, type a word, or take a first step. Being righteously angered because you see injustice is not a sin, using that anger to justify disobeying God is. And that is true for us all.
2) We are called to:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”
And who is our neighbor? When Jesus was asked that very question he told the parable of the Good Samaritan in which a Jew was passed over by his own countrymen, men who should have stopped and helped the injured man. Who stopped and helped? A hated Samaritan. A man who because of his race and religious beliefs was considered a half breed, was equated to dogs by Jews of the day. He put the man up in an inn, paid for his care, and offered to do more if it was needed.
Who is our neighbor? It's not only those who see politically and ideologically the same as me, it is anyone God places in our paths and gives us the chance to share the love of Christ with.
And if we now know who our neighbor is, then how are we suppose to love them? Like ourselves! Even more so, we are called to shine the love of Jesus Christ to the entire world. To be a city on a hill...
"but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Even when we made ourselves enemies to Christ, even when we rejected him with our words and our deeds he loved us so much that he died for us. We can't wait until people seem loveable, until they fit the mold we want them to be in to love them, until they react to a bad situation the way we wish they would. We love or we take the name of Christ out of what we call ourselves.
You may think that I am talking to one side of the current events (probably the side your not on), but I'm not. I'm talking to me, I'm talking to you, I'm talking to all of us. We all need to take a step back before we act, before we speak, before we post and ask ourselves that old standard: WWJD-What Would Jesus Do?
Would he use those words, that body language, that tactic, would he stay silent or would he speak out? You can't be a Christian when things go well and turn it off when you're upset and you want to lash out (though I have to admit sometimes I wish it worked that way).
No, we're not always going to get it right. We're not all instantly going to sing Kum Bah Ya and agree about what to do next. But, I can get a lot further down the road with someone who disagrees with me with love in their heart.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.