You know what our collective American problem is? We don’t know how to love. And I blame the American Christian for this, of which I am one.
I quit turning on the news a few years ago because I was so tired of the evil and depravity that clogs up air time. We don’t have cable because of all the trash we don’t want to have to filter through our children’s minds (or our own, for that matter). We work hard to teach/show our children how to love and give respect to everyone, no matter their color, creed, or beliefs. And yet, the sin nature still finds a way to creep out and make itself known, branded with a scarlet ’S'. Satan is wily, he’s inventive, and he’s convincing. In fact, he doesn't have to work too hard to convince some people that our black brothers and sisters still have to overcome the sub-human stigma placed on them several hundred years ago; he’s convinced others that white brothers and sisters are still wicked oppressors and deserving of death; still others believe that our Mexican brothers and sisters should go back across the border from whence they came because they’re taking all of our good American jobs. He’s also planted seeds of malcontent with our Muslim brothers and sisters whereby some are convinced every Muslim is a radical, explosive-toting jihadist. And the list goes on….my friends, these are LIES FROM THE PIT OF HELL and ought to stay buried in that contaminated mire of spiritual iniquity for all of eternity.
I banish my children to their respective rooms, alone, when they can’t get along because I get so tired of hearing their squabbling and malcontent with each other. It is to give them time to practice self-awareness and self-control until they are ready to come out, confess their part, and make it right. I also take myself away from them (or my husband) when I am in a nasty cranky mood so I can calm down, return to rationality, and recognize truth, and then do something about it. I think that’s what we each need to do, in our own homes, and in our own families, and with our own hearts, today. We’ve become nothing more than grasping social media pot-stirrers which helps nothing now or in the long run. We need to step back and take a long hard look at ourselves without trying to mask up the nasty because we ARE nasty and we are brutal.
Right now, though, I want to address my Christian brothers and sisters because we’re the ones who are supposed to ‘know better’ ‘act better’ and ‘show a better way’, the way of Jesus Christ whom we claim to serve. We’re the ones who are supposed to understand what love really is, the sacrifices it makes, and the way it works as we mature in our faith. We’re the ones who aren’t supposed to identify by color, creed, or race. We’re the ones who are supposed to identify, solely and completely, with the man Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice He made for us. We are little Christ’s, His followers, His disciples, His people. And we’re supposed to know HIS words and live HIS truth. And yet, we are not because we don’t know how to love, or we have conveniently forgotten. We pull out 1 Corinthians 13 for our wedding ceremonies because it’s beautiful and appropriate and then promptly forget what the chapter says in the light of daily living and our first married argument. We’re all twisted up by our own desires, pursuing those like a starving nation, when we should be hungering for the Word of God. We’ve created false identities, apart from Christ, and those have become our idols. We’ve more than allowed Satan’s foot soldiers to creep in unawares. We haven’t guarded our hearts or our homes and we’ve left our doors wide open for those destructive minions to wreak havoc. And aren’t they enjoying watching us murder each other, sexually enslave innocent children, and slander each other with every breath we take? They’ve popped their popcorn, taken a seat, and are laughing mercilessly as they poke or prod us with their poison-tipped tridents as we trip up on stage. And we are taking every blow with contemptible glee and grow meaner and more malicious with each moment.
If we claim to belong to Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, we need to start living like we believe it to be true. And if we truly believe the words we say, then we need to start letting God change our hearts in the deepest darkest places. We need to get real and honest and amazingly transparent with ourselves and with those we do life with. We need accountability and practical help in changing. We need to start living a life of love because we are COMMANDED to do so. Love protects, it is kind, it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, and it is not easily angered. Read 1 Corinthians 13 again and again and again like I did this morning. “If I do not have love, I am nothing.” Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. My words, my actions, my behavior - - -they all mean nothing without love. If we, indeed, are prompted by love, we will reach out to our neighbors, cross those deep chasms our sinful selves have created, and we will then be able to begin to nurture an attitude of abiding love in our selves, our homes, and our communities. It will never happen, though, if we do not crack wide those callous hard casings covering our own hearts. We are the problem. So we need to get a mallet (God’s word) and begin pounding (reading) away. Scripture says that the heart is the wellspring of life and what comes out of our mouths is in direct correlation to what is in our hearts. Friends, brothers, sisters, I beseech you…put love in your hearts so that is what bubbles up and out and over. We are brothers and sisters and must learn to live with each other. Ain’t none of us going anywhere. We are stuck here together. We are Christians and love is what is supposed to be natural, normal, and easy for us. Hate, evil, malice, discontent - - those things take work because they are in direct opposition to who we now are in Christ Jesus. Stop working so hard expending energy in contradiction to your ‘new’ self. You’re fighting for the wrong team.
“Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.” Sometimes truth is hard and ugly. Like slavery. In our country. Past and present. We have to acknowledge these things, recognize they were/are evil and wicked, and find a way to forgive the past, protect the future (which means, each other), and move forward in love. We have to expose the darkness and ask God’s help in freeing ourselves from the chains that have so tightly bound us. Don’t you want to live a victorious life? I do. I want to live free to love, free to share what God has so mercifully done in my own life, and I want each person I come in contact with to become a recipient of that same unimaginable grace-filled act that pairs me with God for eternity.
Nobody wants what a hate-filled person has.
Christians, you and I are the answer because we have the answer. We simply must annihilate Satan’s lies and his hold on our hearts so that we can be conduits for God’s ultimate love, mercy, and grace. Hope. We have it and we must share it. Lord God Almighty, help me be the Christian I say I am, every single day. Forgive me where I fail. Show me how to live like you, to smash wide those walls that are unhelpful to the work you would have us do. Help us to do my beloved Jeff's favorite verse, Micah 6:8. "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the require of you? To act justly and to and to walk humbly with your God." Help me to do those things so that you are glorified in my life, so that others may see you in me, and so that we can finally find some peace, together, in this chaotic world.