I'm a bit of a news junkie. Pray for me. I guess I inherited it from my dad. I remember when we were kids (there was only one television in the house! If you can wrap your head around that one, and we had about 6-8 channels to choose from) be assured at the news hour, it didn't matter what was on, the television dial was going to be turned to channel 6. And, be quiet! The bunny ears would be adjusted, and we would agonizingly suffer through the news of the day. However, nothing we heard then could compare to the awful news we receive on a daily basis, today. I'm glad my parents and grandparents have been spared from this time--it's difficult for us, without them, but we cannot imagine them seeing the condition of the world today.
As this modern day "news junkie" consumes the news, I'm struck by the lack of integrity that hangs over our nation like a cloak. (Integrity= the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. The state of being whole and undivided.)
Recently, I heard an interviewer ask if there was an explanation for the disrespect and non-bipartisanship in our government--and, in our nation. His (the interviewee, I cannot remember for the life of me!) answer regarding Congress and the Senate was surprisingly simple. I think--in fact, I know, it would work in the whole of society, too. He said for a long time, congressional representatives and senators didn't only work together. Once elected, they moved to Washington, D.C. to serve their term(s). They also moved their families. Their children went to school together, they socialized with each other and developed genuine friendships. That brought a kindness and respect that carried into the workplace, that sadly no longer exists. Because they don't have these relationships, it is easy for them to resort to name-calling, to refuse to compromise, to view "the other side" as the enemy and fail to respect differing points of view.
Imagine if we could all begin to spend time with people who don't think just like us, who have differing points of view--and learn how to discuss the difficult issues that plague our society without resorting to viciousness or divisive language? I believe that would be the beginning to a return to integrity. We're splintered...badly. We have major issues dividing us, and until we are able to discuss them, we cannot begin to resolve them. We need to pray--without preconceived notions and pretexts. We need to ask God to reveal the secret places in us--those places that we may not be aware of, ourselves. As Christians, the healing must begin with the "household of faith". Do you remember? "If My people who are called by My Name will humble themselves and pray, and seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will heal their land.
We are quick to say, "God bless America!" He already has blessed America, abundantly! But, just like Israel of old we have departed from the way that He set before us and it has led us into a den of iniquity. The problem with us, as Christians is, we focus on the symptoms rather than the cause. What led us to this place? If we figure that out, and "humble ourselves, pray, seek Him, and (this is key) TURN/REPENT that's when the land will be healed and we will experience true revival. Understand, repentance is more than being sorry, it must coexist with change, or it isn't repentance. You must "turn" in a different direction, if you want to experience revival.
While we point at "Sodom and Gomorrah", and call her abominable and detestable, we think that the outward sin is God's greatest concern...but not so fast. Ezekiel 16: 49-50 says, "Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So, I removed them, when I saw it." Pride always precedes a fall. Pride leads us away from the care and concern for others and causes us to focus on self. When we reach this point, we are apt to do anything--any abomination our wicked hearts can conceive. This description of Sodom reminds me of a few New Testament characters--like the rich barn-builder, the rich man who walked past Lazarus daily, and the rich young ruler who challenged Jesus with the question, "Rabbi, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" The final answer of, "sell all that you have and give to the poor", sent him away dejected and sad. The barn-builder? Jesus called him a fool and he wasn't ready when death came knocking, because his soul was wrapped up in his stuff. Likewise, the rich man who practically stumbled over Lazarus (probably was even annoyed by his presence) woke up in Hell, and wanted Lazarus to give his brothers a message...Lazarus was busy, resting in Paradise. Now, it isn't a sin to be wealthy; it is how you handle wealth--how you prioritize it and how you give, that makes the difference.
God knows exactly what lies in the deepest recesses of our hearts--even if we aren't completely aware. And, He will reveal those hidden things, if you desire change and are honest with Him. Don't agree with me. Agree with Him.
There are some problems that make my heart ache--that burden me, daily.
I find myself sorrowful as I listen to Christians, say the "Black Lives Matter Movement" is racist and excludes everyone else. The truth is, it exists because people of color, in America, have been excluded for so long--and want to be included and afforded the same treatment and respect as the whole of society.
I find myself sad as I listen to arguments against immigrants who come here (or want to) seeking asylum from terror, only to be turned away. That is anti-American. Suppose this nation had built borders in the 1400's-1700's? It would be very different--very view of us, are native--certainly not white or black people. We all (or our forefathers) came here seeking/fleeing (or in many cases, in chains, against our will--but there is purpose even in that) something. We need compassion, as Christians, and grace enough to put ourselves in someone else's shoes. We need empathy.
Finally, we cannot continue to put ourselves first--that is not godly. If we are going to be Christians first, and even true Americans, some of our values must be reexamined. God is not a God of exclusivity, but of inclusiveness. It is His desire that all would be saved, and helped, and fed, and healed. We are His hands, and feet, in the earth. First things first, put down your arguments and ideologies, self-examine, be honest with God. Does your thinking line up with His New Commandment? Does it line up with grace--or is it bound up in legalism; is it self-preserving, or self-serving?
"Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the Form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:3-8, ESV.