Yesterday was a day to remember. A day to tell our stories & take stock, not just of that day, but of the 20 years since. Where are we today vs where we were then.
When the article A Question for the 20th Anniversary of 9/11: Are We Tired of Hating People Yet? popped up on my social feed it caught my eye. It is what my spirit fears most right now, the hatred and division that is swelling in our nation and very frankly in our churches. I expect this from the world, but not from my brothers & sisters within the body of believers.
If 9/11 taught us anything it should have been how much can be lost in a very short period of time on an otherwise very ordinary sort of a day. It taught us we are better and stronger when we come together to rescue, to heal and to rebuild.
We continue to praise the bravery of those who jumped into action that day to aid their fellow (wo)man. Hundreds of stories of strangers helping strangers, careing for wounded, assisting other to safety and even giving their lives to save & rescue others. We admire self-sacrificing service to others. It makes us feel like the good in people is stronger than the bad in the world.
After all the greatest example of this was Jesus himself. He washed his disciples’ feet and taught us what service leadership looks like. He taught us that in his kingdom the last shall be first, and the first shall be last. We love that verse…when it works to our favor. But I want to challenge you to go back & read the full parable again in Matthew 20. Are you feeling like the first hired workers?
We are living in a time where self-sacrifice is being drowned out by a battle to define freedom and individual rights. Politics and religion are being merged in this battle. And it is dangerous for the church. Don’t get me wrong. If you are called to be politically active and represent Christian values in politics, we need you to follow that calling. But realize the enemy is strong in that arena & you must gird yourself up with spiritual armor daily to keep yourself free of the temptations of influence & position.
For the rest of us, yes, vote your conscious. Yes, write letters, sign petitions and peacefully protest for issues that matter to you, but do not attach your faith to any political party. And…here is the biggy…do not expect ANY politician or political party to “fix” it (whatever your particular it is).
Did you ever think about the fact that the Jewish nation does not recognize Jesus as their Messiah because he did not restore the kingdom of David to its former political glory or achieve victory in battle against Israel’s enemies? Jesus chose not to enter the political arena or raise a militia to fight the systems of the day. Instead, Jesus lived a perfect life of grace & compassion for all people and model a different way of living. At the end of his time on earth he gave himself over to an unjust political system to be tortured and killed as the ultimate sacrifice for us. His greatest act of love stripped him of his rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He didn’t put up a fight or a defense to prove himself. He sacrificed it all, willingly.
You may be thinking, yeah, but I’m not Jesus. I’m not that brave. Then maybe consider one last question. In Mark 12:17 Jesus says “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Another verse that gets quoted a lot when it fits our own agenda. And again, when we go back & read the whole story this verse is talking about much more than money. Jesus’ response to the challenge of the Pharisees invites His listeners to choose allegiances. What are you choosing to render to the world & what are you rendering to God?
What about your allegiance? Are you loyal to a party, or a person, or only to God? Should we even identify ourselves as a Republican, Democrat or Independent or should we simply identify ourselves as a Christian void of political party?
Where do you seek wisdom? Do you only seek it from news media, social media, friends or influencers that think like you do or are you seeking the scriptures, spending time in prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit to establish your opinions & positions?
What about your time & talents? Are you consumed with being right and choosing sides or are you using your voice to encourage, offer grace, bring hope, build unity and grow God’s kingdom? Are you investing your gifts and talents in sacrificial service of others?
I’m tired of hating people. I’m tired of being consumed by the patterns of this world. I’m ready to be transformed by the renewing of my mind so I can know what God’s will is. (Romans 12)
He warned us that in this world we will have troubles. But we can take heart because He has overcome the world! (John 16)
I want to love the Lord my God with all of my heart, all of my soul, and all of my mind. I want to love my neighbor even better than myself. Because the scripture and my Spirit tell me everything else hangs on these two commands. (Matthew 22)
Will you join me?
After all we are better and stronger when we come together to rescue, to heal and to rebuild.