The election is over. As we prepare to follow a new leader, we must face the fact that we are potentially poised to enter an era of economic difficulty perhaps unseen by the majority of us in the U.S. today. There are many challenges in front of us. Our success in dealing with those challenges, I believe, will be directly proportionate to how well Christians truly reflect Christ in the arduous months ahead.

Our collective emotions have been whipped into a frenzy during this particularly pugnacious political season. Half the country is seething because their candidate will not be taking the reins. The other half may be celebrating, but many of them are finding it hard to hear the bands playing as the epithets and innuendos from the campaign trail continue to ring in their ears.

Both sides remain angry. And those tempers will flare all the more should unemployment and inflation continue to rise … side effects some economists are predicting from the financial prescription Washington wrote for Wall Street last month.

My prayer, and I hope yours as well, is that God will bless our next president and give him the strength he is going to need to help lead this nation through uniquely treacherous times. I pray God will heal the hurts, real and imagined, of everyone on both sides of our political divide. I beseech Thee, O Lord, to quench the flames of hatred, both latent and overt, and not just those fueled by racial bias or religious disagreement.

We the people of the United States must negotiate a treaty to end class warfare in this country. We must pledge that our allegiance to partisanship will no longer take precedence over the common good. If this nation is to endure, the time is now to allow the Spirit to direct our steps rather than the drumbeat of division we are following furiously to our own destruction.

The question is not whether we can survive on our present path. The question we must ask ourselves, should we persist in this unGodly insanity, is who our Babylon will be.

Jesus was not the Consummate Politician. He warned His followers time and again not to value man’s authority or ability over God’s. As for public policy, read through the Sermon on the Mount to find where politics was cited as the solution to any dilemma.

Toward the end of His ministry, Christ summed up His recovery package by saying “… I was hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came unto me” (Matthew 25:35-36). They (and we) responded to Him incredulously asking when we served Him in such ways. You know His reply.

We the church have before us the opportunity … and the responsiblity … to be “Good Samaritans” during a time when our nation surely needs neighbors helping neighbors. There are many who are desperate for assistance and encouragement, with the numbers certain to grow. We can be Christ-like in our response to those needs, or we can take the low road and continue to blame and blast and bash each others’ heads in.

You may have heard the quote from Ghandi that the whole world would be Christian if it weren’t for the Christians. We grin at that comment … until it sinks in.

Another quote comes to mind that I think gives our present circumstance a more positive perspective. In recent history America may have no better illustration of our tenacity than the space program. Within that realm, one of our most anxious moments was Apollo 13. When the worst seemed inevitable, NASA flight director Gene Kranz uttered the visionary words, “I believe this will be our finest hour.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ: our children and grandchildren will one day look back on this moment in history and conclude whether we failed our mission or rose to the occasion. There are Zealots aplenty to incite division. What we need right now are more peacemakers taking cups of cool water to their neighbors … of every race and creed … in both political parties. If we aren’t willing to show the love of God, even to people with whom we disagree (a.k.a. – our enemies), we certainly aren’t worthy to receive it.

May God bless America, yes, but may His Kingdom be glorified and His will be done … in all things.

 


    We call each other “family.” And for the most part we pretty much like each other. Okay, we love each other. We usually smile when others in our church family are happy and we occasionally cry when brothers and sisters are in pain. Not (just) because we are commanded to. Our love emanates, not from duty, but from devotion.

    Sometimes we talk about the different kinds of love, and we linger over the word “agape.” We understand God’s love for us has no limits, even though our heads begin to hurt whenever we really think about anything infinite. Try to do a bar graph comparing your love for everyone you’ve ever known and plot that next to God’s love just for you. Not enough paper for that second column, is there.

    God knows we can’t be Him. Yet He encourages us to strive to be like Him. So while measuring ourselves against the I AM is futile, looking for ways to improve how we are with how we could be has some merit.

    Here’s an idea (modified) from the book “Pilgrim Heart” by Darryl Tippens. It offers an interesting glimpse of the true measure of our love for our neighbor. Try it for yourself and see if you can detect any difference from your first assumption to your tested answer.

    Imagine you live just where you are now, but 150 years earlier. Pick someone from your church family, but color them darker. Picture them through your window, running towards your house frantically. In the distance you hear the baying of bloodhounds. Then this person is pounding on your door. When you open, he falls to his knees and begs, “Please, hide me!” As you begin to recognize the voices of the dog handlers in the closing distance as those of your slave-holding neighbors, you must ask yourself, “Would I … hide him?”

    Now let’s fast forward about a hundred years, make a slight geographical adjustment and throw in a Deutsch accent. Pick someone else from a nearby pew. If a Star of David had been scrawled on her door yesterday and an imposing young man with a Swastika on his sleeve was standing at your door this morning asking of her whereabouts, would you quitclaim your neighbor or let her remain hidden in your attic, despite the possible personal consequences?

    Unsettling, isn’t it. This little exercise takes us from Sunday fellowship dinner love to the kind of love that comes with a pricetag.

    When Jesus asked the impetuous disciple about the measure of his devotion, Peter replied, “I love you … I love you … I love you.” Later he lamented the hollowness of his words.

    When we say we love one another, how sincere are we?

    Lord, thank you for the supreme example of selfless love. Give us the strength and the courage to have that kind of love for our neighbors.




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