“It is to one's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel."- Proverbs 20:3
The horrific events that took place last week in Charlottesville, Virginia are yet another reminder of the brokenness plaguing our nation due to ever-increasing levels of hate, pride, and selfishness. The division amongst people and the tension in the land has manifested into what seems like weekly demonstrations, protests, debates, rallies, and forums. I am not writing this article today to minimize the passion people feel, to question the motives behind each movement or to even dismiss protests/rallies as being unworthy in cause or not beneficial in outcome. However, much of these demonstrations have been led by people operating out of anger, arrogance, and outright disregard for their fellow man. The news stories, audio/video footage, and viral images from these events include people spewing vulgarities at one another, countless acts of violence, and even the death of innocent people.
We seem so far away from that glory-filled night which ushered in the Prince of Peace, as the angels proclaimed in Luke 2:14, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests." Although we seem to be far off from God's course and perfect plan for how we are to live with one another, there is still a responsibility and divine blueprint we have as believers to be people of peace. I write to you on this subject to help us (the church) know how to remain pure of heart, focused in faith, and remain the light in the world during times such as these. In the midst of hate, LOVE can be displayed; in the midst of the darkness, LIGHT can be dispersed; and in the midst of all the yelling going on around us, LEARNING can be deposited into willing hearts and minds. As God's people how are we to live and respond to the recent unsettling events of racism, hate, and pride?
We must continue to be a PRAYING PEOPLE.
Last week is yet another reminder of the great need to cover our nation in prayer, to repent for the sins of the land, and to seek the Lord for a healing work that ushers in a revival that changes hearts. Perhaps, you will take the challenge to pray each morning for our country. Maybe, you will pause in the middle of reading a disturbing story on the internet to pray about that issue/challenge. For some, setting up a reminder such as saying a prayer whenever you see the American Flag will work best. Prayer is the greatest instrument for change! James 5:16 tells us, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."
We must find our place of rest, safety, and breakthrough in GOD'S PRESENCE.
One of the dangers for believers is to find ourselves using the public forum to cry out, to combat what we oppose, and communicate our opinions and values. In today's world we have such easy access (and often without accountability) to broadcast what we are thinking, how we are feeling, and what we are doing. We can get caught in the world's wave of expression filled with ratings and reviews, with name dropping and name calling, with likes and dislikes. My concern is that we can fall into the trap of spending more time surfing the internet, posting on Facebook, and stewing over the actions of others, rather than resting and renewing ourselves in God's Word and presence. Jesus directs us with this truth in Matthew 6:6, "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
We must align our passions and priorities to what releases KINGDOM LIFE.
As His holy people and a chosen generation we need our hearts to yearn for the things of God, we need our voice to testify of His good news, and we need our hands and feet to be marked by love and service. Before we take up a cause, join a march, give our time or money to an organization, click the "like" button on a post, we need to ask ourselves, "Is this something near and dear to God's heart?"; "Is this something that will produce life?"; "Is this something that will help others?"; "Is this something that has greater value (perhaps even eternal), than personal gain, public opinion and the present moment's need?"; "Is this pleasing to God?" I believe God is wanting us to adjust our passions, emotions, and resources in such a way that they are defined by, motivated by, and fulfilled by doing His will and seeking His glory.
In a world on edge, let's live as a people of purpose. In the midst of great division, let's be distributors of peace. James 3:16-18 speaks to the way the world marches, and the way the believer should move, "For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness."
That is a cause worth taking part in, a march worth following, and a message worth sharing!