by: Marty Paluch
May I ask you a question?
Thanks. If we are to be a force for positive change in eternity and this life, how does it serve our purpose to vilify someone with a different perspective? (Pause) Good answer, it doesn’t.
I know many opinions involve more than mustard or mayo as ones preferred condiment. Issues in relationships whether marriages, children, parents, neighbors, or other citizens are based on some common bond even if it is no more than occupying the planet at the same point in history. From my experience, wherever the conflict lies in any discussion we probably agree with the other guy on far more than we disagree. Can I get an ‘amen’ on that? C’mon you in the back, that wasn’t ‘amen.’
Events of the last week and months raise reasonable questions for Christians regarding our response to civil unrest. How do we engage in the process? How do we have spirited discussions without alienating affections? How do I love a person offering opinions categorically opposed to mine? How do I even know what my opinions are? How do I honor Christ in it all?
As Christ followers, we have clear guidelines for living as redeemed people in a broken world and I guarantee none of them include name-calling, chanting mantras, looting, destroying property or furry hats with horns. Those tactics never win friends or influence people to our way of thinking. Never.
When Jesus, ascended into Heaven, commissioning us to make disciples, His Spirit remained to empower us into a right way of life and a right way of thinking. Kind of like being on Wheel of Fortune and having Vanna White telepathically communicate what letter to call next. You can’t lose. Only with the Holy Spirit, it’s not cheating!
Sincere prayer and disciplined reading of God’s Word are necessary starting points to having the mind of Christ rule our hearts and mouths. One advantage Jesus has over us – He knows the minds and hearts of everyone. We still need to take the time to discover the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ we find so unnerving. And while you’re doing that, I almost guarantee you’ll realize neither one of you wants to see people go hungry, suffer abuse or injustice or be robbed of the dignity and respect inherent to anyone created in the image of God. See? Common ground.
As Christ followers, we are called to be productive and contributing members of the society in which we live–for the sake of Christ. We are not to shirk civic responsibility but exercise it so we might win others for life in the best society to come when Christ returns. The best America we build now can still only be a dim shadow of the glorious freedoms and liberties we will enjoy as citizens of heaven.
While we wait for that Day, we recognize there are God-fearing, Jesus-loving, Spirit-led people on both sides of almost any issue (sports competitions excluded, of course). Christ’s Church on Earth is His presence to continue His work on Earth. While the Church on Earth (the people of God, not any denomination) is not civil government, it is the only agent able to speak authentic Truth into any culture.
Our freedoms guaranteed by the American Constitution flow from the freedom from sin Christ won for us on Calvary and through His resurrection. Freedom and liberty were never the brainchild of any human. Only as we participate in society and culture as imperfect people, willing to risk it all to make Jesus real ONE life at a time will we see a more just and fair world on this side of Heaven.
It is possible for our children and the generations yet unborn to live in this world with less suffering, pain and poverty. Jesus, through us, is working on it even as you read these words. Christ’s promise and our trust move us to celebrate as Christians, and as citizens of America or any country, we can be different, yet not divided.
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." Revelation 21:5