Jump Start # 2628
Psalms 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance”
NOTE: Tomorrow is the celebration of our country’s independence and birth. There will be no Jump Start tomorrow.
Things are being torn apart in our country. Tension, anger, violence, destruction, threats and accusations are flying off the charts. Blood is boiling and statures are falling. History is being restructured and rewritten. The fear of being labeled racist, has caused people to look at product names, school mascots, and operating policies. Open letters have been sent demanding change. Charges of racism is being pointed at people simply because they do not get on the band wagon of everyone else. And, all of this has impacted brethren, and not in a good way.
Some thoughts, especially at a time of national independence.
First, Satan loves to divide people. He wants us to take our attention off the real problem and that is him. He will use issues and people to get folks upset, divided, and angry with one another. Our country has a history, just as you and I do. And, that history isn’t always good. Slavery was a part of this country. Slavery was a part of Biblical history, especially Israel. Slavery oppresses people and allows the mighty to control the weak. The principles of the Gospels end slavery. Understanding that we are all from one blood, created in the image of God and should treat others as we would like to be treated drives out that spirit to own and control others. There were many mistakes, sins, corruption and evil in the history of all countries. Our verse today speaks of a nation whose God is the Lord. In many ways, most ways, this country has left that understanding by policies of it’s leaders.
Second, demanding change and forcing people to compel to change doesn’t look very different than slavery itself. Slaves were forced to hard labor. They were forced without their consent, input or discussion. Force and fear were the driving forces. Force and fear are being used now to demand change. That is never the proper way, nor the godly way. Bring things to the table. Present evidence. Do your homework. Discuss. Propose optional changes and improvements. Do things legally. Do things through open discussion. When nations push each other, wars break out. When neighbors push each other, fights break out. Two wrongs never make a right. Vandalism, violence, destruction of property, hatred will never lead to the right changes. And, brethren who get caught up in such things need to remember who they are. We are citizens of Heaven, first and foremost. Our founding fathers built in a system to allow protests. Any government, or even church, can lose sight of what it is about and oppress people and become wrong. Calling things out often brings things to the attention that was neglected, overlooked and put on the back burner.
In John 8, the angry Pharisees demanded Jesus to take a stand. They brought to Him, in the temple, a woman who was dragged from the arms of another man in the midst of sexual sin. They demanded a response from the Lord. Stone her or not? Jesus saw through their evil intentions. This woman was being used to get what they really wanted, proof that Jesus was not the Messiah. They didn’t care about her. They didn’t care what happened to her. The very fact that she was caught in the act of adultery certainly implies that they knew what was going on. This was a set up. This was a trap. They used her to try to get Him. They were not interested in discussion. They didn’t care about rules. Why bring an unclean person into the temple? They didn’t care about how unfair this was. If she was caught, where was the man? One of them? And, rather than being pushed into a corner, the Lord defused the hostile situation by allowing her to be stoned. If you are without sin, throw a stone. Would they do that right there in the temple? Would they do that without a formal legal trial? So many things wrong. The mob wasn’t thinking. And, how many parallels to the tense situation in our country today. Anger, threats and demands never accomplish anything positive.
Third, it is easy to become what one is opposing. In fighting racism, some have become racists themselves. They have swung so far the other way that they have become what they oppose. Inconsistences is the death of most arguments. It’s always easier to point the finger at others and find their faults than it is to look in the mirror at our own hearts. The answers to the countries problems begin with self and in our homes. From there, it extends to our congregations. Has there been prejudice and racism in the church? Yes. Is there still? In some places, yes. Do we gut the whole system and come up with a better plan? You can’t do that with God’s pattern. We begin with self. We begin with attitudes. We begin with the way we connect and fellowship others. We begin with our love for others. We begin with where God wants us to be.
Fourth, using a broad brush of generalities fails. There are always exceptions. Those exceptions kills the arguments. Not everyone in the south is racist. Not everyone in the confederacy was a racist. Study history. Some were fighting for the rights of the state over the power of the national government. When we lump groups of people together and make assumptions that they all believe a certain way, you will find exceptions. That destroys what you have just said. That weakens your point. That unfairly accuses innocent people of something that they do not believe in. Broad generalities lump a few bad apples with those who are doing right.
Fifth, somewhere we got the notion that if you do something that I do not like, then you have to stop. We pressure others to change because what they are doing bothers us. It’s one thing if someone is forcing me to do wrong. I need to stop and get away from that situation. But why should you change if I am bothered? It seems very selfish for me to say, ‘you must stop what you are doing because I do not like it.’ There are a lot of things that bothers me. I go to a ballgame and there are people loud, obnoxious and heavily drinking alcohol. That bothers me. I can say something and probably get punched in the nose. I can leave. I can refuse to go. Or, I can not let what they are doing bother me. There are shows on TV that bothers me. I don’t watch them. There are proper channels to voice complaints, write letters, or express my disagreement. But pressuring someone to change, because I do not like something is no better than that person pressuring me because I’m not doing what he is. I know the radical spirit. It rises up in me once in a while. I was part of a high school sit-in where the students sat in the hallway and refused to go to classes. That ended quickly when the police showed up. I have walked out of movies. I left a college choir performance because I didn’t agree with some of the songs they were singing. I know what it’s like to be bothered and upset about things that I didn’t agree. But demanding others change because of me, smells of arrogant selfishness in my book. There is a guy in the neighborhood that doesn’t mow his yard well. That bothers me. Sometimes my wife does things that bothers me. I know I do many things that bothers her. The only way to not be bothered, is to be by yourself. We will be bothered. Just think about worship on a Sunday morning. Some are bothered about the temperature of the building. It’s never the right temp for everyone. Some are freezing and others are burning up. Most places now have the thermostat under lock and key. Why? So people wouldn’t change it to suit them. The selection of songs bothers some. The sermon topic bothers some. The length of the sermon bothers some. The way the announcements are given bothers some. Now, with social distancing, everyone is bothered. You get bothered by the way some drive. It’s amazing to me that some even passed the driving test. The weather bothers us. The bugs bug us. Crowds bothers us. Prices bothers us. After awhile, we realize, that’s life. I can go through it always bothered, or I can make sure the outside doesn’t bother my insides. Does everyone have to change because I’m offended? No. You can’t legislate morals. It won’t work.
Finally, what’s the answer to all of this? Jesus. It has always been, Jesus. Through Jesus, we find the path that we ought to travel on. Through Jesus, we learn how to conduct ourselves. Through Jesus, we put more attention upon where we are, than where the other guy is at. And, until we embrace Jesus, racism, hatred, violence will continue. As the country pulls father away from the Lord, the problems will multiply. Among the people of God, grace, forgiveness, and love must be the banner under which we can unite and be one. Has there been mistakes? Yes. Have we had to change our thinking? Yes. Are we perfect? No. Can we do better? Always. But more than the “we” talk, it is better to look at self. Can I do better? Yes. Have I made mistakes? Yes. Have I learned anything to make things better? Yes.
Independence—it is a right, a blessing, a privilege and an honor. In many places, even today, speaking against others, especially those in charge, would lead to a swift and violent death. Oppressed people want to be free. Free people need to do what they can to make things right and better for all.