We are divided. Have you noticed?
And we’re mad about it. Have you noticed that, too?
As if we didn’t have enough to be divided and angry about in an election year, along came the coronavirus. It didn’t create the divide, but it sure exposed the pre-existing chasm.
What to do? I’m not a politician or a reporter. I don’t own a media company or manage a large corporation.
I’m a pastor in a small North Carolina town. It’s the reason I have been invited to write in this space. I don’t have to solve the world’s problems. I don’t even have to have an opinion about everything.
Specifically, I’m a Christian pastor. I don’t even have to articulate what someone of another faith or no faith might think or say. I do have a responsibility to represent Jesus Christ well with the opportunities I’ve been given.
Here’s what I think our Bible reminds us we should do in the middle of tension and division.
Trust. The book of Revelation offers in vivid images the truth the rest of the Bible affirms. God is still enthroned, worshiped not only in the visible but the invisible world. He’s in charge, so I don’t have to be.
Remember. It’s a favorite biblical word, one we’ll use in our service of Holy Communion tomorrow. We who remember an innocent Savior who chose suffering on our behalf should in turn choose the suffering of self-denial so that the world can see the difference only he can make.
Witness. Spiritual immaturity or a life bearing the fruit of the Spirit will inevitably emerge during a crisis. Do we become more self-focused and obstinate? Or do the words that we say publicly and privately and the behaviors we display publicly and privately convey the truth of the Gospel and the grace he embodied?
Pray. Prayer is not doing nothing. Prayer for everyone from ourselves to our enemies must be our instinctive response at a time like this. Why? Because every form of prayer from worship to confession to petition is a recognition of our impotence, sin, and need before a holy, Almighty God. When we decide we can do it on our own – or in retrospect that we did anything on our own — that’s idolatry.
Wait. The pervasive biblical theme is not waiting for something. It’s waiting for Someone. It’s not waiting for a specific outcome — not even a vaccine or the outcome of an election. It is waiting on God, trusting him to draw me into a deeper intimacy with him — and through me to attract others — regardless of whether the situation improves.
I can’t fix the divisions in America. But I pray that in our generation the church will emerge as a bright light of truth and hope precisely because we don’t use the world’s weapons of power and hatred, but the Gospel’s means of grace, truth, patience, and the visible unity of Christ’s church to bear witness to Jesus Christ.
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