Take a deep breath. Our culture is shifting. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I am on a large ocean vessel doing its best to zigzag through a hurricane. The navigation instruments are going crazy and the ship’s rudder is straining against the raging waves. Those of us aboard shout over the bellows and hang on for dear life. Will we survive the raging sea?
I speak, of course, of recent violence as well as the national dialogue in its wake. Perhaps it is a perfect storm: world unrest, terrorism, moral decay, social media and a presidential election year.
One thing is for certain. We can no longer say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe.” In recent years we have coddled the idea we are all going to the same place and one religion is the same as another. Apart from the obvious factual flaws in this argument, we must now say it matters very much what one believes. World terrorism uses destructive weapons of war, but it is rooted in ideology.
In all of this, Christians work to find their voice, and it is far from unified. I am certain you are aware that the subjects of refugees, pluralism and guns evoke opposing views among believers. Since it is our hope God will bless our nation, these discussions cross over into politics, the constitution and our rights as citizens. Do you feel the swells beneath us?
I will not debate these issues here, though I have my personal convictions. Rather, I wish to remind us, as Christians, our freedoms must be tempered by a higher authority.
We are accountable to God for our words and actions. This doesn’t mean we are sinning when we express strong opinions. On the contrary, we might be sinning if we fail to speak the truth. Yet, we must ask God to help us season our words and guard our actions so we don’t unwittingly lose the war for people’s hearts in the process of fighting the battle. Perhaps you remember this piece of advice from Peter to first century Christian slaves: “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.” (1 Peter 2:20) We must sincerely seek goodness, truth and justice, and strive to follow the will of God in everything.
We represent the mission of the church. I am aware there are different philosophies regarding the role of the church in the public discourse. Martin Luther King Jr. led the civil rights movement as an agent of the church. During the Holocaust, courageous leaders in the church stood up to Hitler and risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors. I am not certain where we lose the high moral ground, but I know when we allow ourselves to be driven by hate, and we forget the inherent value of every living soul, we are no better than those who do evil. The mission of the church is to redeem mankind through the good news of a Savior who gave His life for all sinners. If we care less about those for whom He died than He did, we have crossed a dangerous line.
I leave you with this word of encouragement: God’s idea of kingdom trumps every other human ideology. His kingdom isn’t just about principles and practice. It is eternal. It is the only power that storms the gates of Hell and sets the captive free.
The pure light of God pierces every dark place and exposes every wicked deed. Let’s not allow our world to capsize us. God is our strength, Christ is our anchor and the Holy Spirit is our guide.
We will survive the tempest if we hold on tight.