Could be a Good Thing
Less than two weeks into the new President’s term, the collective neurons of our society are “lighting up!” Arguments are breaking out on social media. Political picket signs are bobbing up and down in a sea of protestors. We have boycotts and sit-ins. The world is reacting. Newscasters are scrambling.
All of this, and we don’t even know yet if the groundhog is going to see his shadow. I’ve been told Punxutawney Phil is under investigation for distributing “fake news”, but I wouldn’t swear to it.
Amidst the turmoil, I would like to suggest this situation is very good for our country. I realize, conflict has its risks. There is always the danger evil people will exploit unrest for a destructive agenda. Protests can boil over and innocent people can be hurt. And while we are distracted by the urgent, we can miss the important.
So what is good about it? I am not speaking of a particular policy or political principle. I humbly submit these possible positive outcomes:
A new generation is becoming engaged in the political process and the cause of freedom. There is an old song called “What is Truth” by Johnny Cash. It was written during the tumultuous 60s. Cash sang, “This old world’s waking to a new-born day, and I solemnly swear that it will be their way. You better help the voice of youth find, what is truth.” If you are older, don’t be dismayed if younger people take a stance that is different from your own. Maybe they are right. Maybe they will change. But at least they are engaged. If people keep their ideas to themselves and never test them in the social arena, they don’t learn and grow.
Believers are being challenged to embrace tension in their Christian walk. In regards to the subject of immigration, people on both sides of the debate have some important questions to ask themselves.
- On one side… “Has there even been a time in my life when I needed someone to open their arms to me? Have I ever faced bankruptcy? Have I ever had to reach out for benevolence? If so, and if I have been blessed since, what have I done to show my appreciation to those who helped me when I was down? Has God blessed me so I can spend all of my money on myself, or has He blessed me so I can be a blessing to others?
- On the other side… “If I expect my country to care for those in need with the collective purse of its citizens, what have I done for people in need with my own resources? What do I know about immigrants in my own community? Where do they live? Do they go to church? How do they clothe their children? How do they help their children with their homework while they are still learning English?
Public debate teaches us to agree to disagree. A fundamental principle of the church I serve is, “In essentials unity, in non-essential liberty and in all things, love.” One of the most disheartening things I can hear someone say is, “I can’t worship with you because you don’t… (Insert an opinion)”. An opinion is a non-essential. It is not a matter of salvation, therefore, I refuse to make it a “test of fellowship” in my relationship with a brother or sister in Christ. Our opinions on government policy can have an impact on how we serve God, but in most cases, I don’t think they will determine whether we go to heaven or not. I know, if we feel strongly about a policy, it might rise to this level in our minds. But in reality, the grace of Jesus is probably going to cover most political differences. If you disagree with me on this, then that is just another place we are going to have to agree to disagree. In Ephesians 4:3, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” A time of political turmoil tests our ability to discuss issues about which we feel passionately, while still respecting and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. Frankly, I am embarrassed by some of the dialogue I have seen on social media between believers. I don’t think it honors Christ, and I don’t think it represents us well to the world.
So, perhaps this is a season that has been a long time coming. This is a moment when we have an opportunity to stretch muscles we either didn’t know we had or had forgotten we had. It isn’t guaranteed we will come out of it better people. That outcome is up to us.
I hope followers of Jesus are among those who make sure we end up in a better place.
What place are you in right now?