Now More Than Ever
Over these last few months, as the world limped by, I have found myself struggling with despair. I watched as a microscopic virus ground the world to a halt. People lost their jobs, business collapsed, people died, and I was prohibited from being with people that I love and deeply care about. Then we watched as a man that had sworn to “Protect and Serve” callously killed another man because he didn’t like him, and it opened old and some not so old wounds. The protests, riots and random attacks against the police that followed showed how deep and painful those wounds are. Now as the political season revs up, we see further evidence of the widening divides in our country. Hatred and anger seem to have deeply stained the fabric of our country, not to mention the rest of our world. To make matters worse, there seem to be people out there that are seeking to whip up the turmoil for their own gain. They don’t care if the world burns as long as they can grab power or wealth or ???.
I find myself crying out like the Psalmist, “How long O Lord? When will you swoop in and do something to change all of this? When will you stop the hate-filled people and bring peace to our world? Why don’t you do something?” Even as I find myself blaming God for inaction, I realize that this is why we as Christians and as Tustin Presbyterian Church are here. God has called us to be that light in the darkness. We not only need to be a community of believers that shows the world how to be a loving community, but we also need to be a community that invites people of every race, gender, social status, political affiliation, personality type, …, to join with us in seeking to know God more fully and to show the love of God, wherever it is needed. That is what God calls us to do and to be.
In order to do that, we need to do a few things. First, we need to examine our hearts to see where hate has found a foothold. Who are those people that you despise and wish ill upon? It could be individuals or groups. Jesus’ call to love our enemies does not come with any exceptions. I must admit that I can find myself allowing hatred to slip into my heart when I deem someone particularly offensive because they do not agree with me. During this political season, I see that happening quite a bit.
Second, ask God to help us do surgery to remove that hate. When that anger and hate finds a crevasse in my heart to take up residence, I need to confess it and ask God to help me remove it. God just won’t take it away from me; I have to be willing and desire to be free of that hate.
Third, seek to grow in our relationship with Christ, so we can learn to truly love our enemies. The key to this is found in the words of one of my favorite hymns:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and Grace.
Fourth, ask God to give us the strength to act with love toward those enemies, not just give lip service. It is not enough to say we want to be like Christ. We have to live it. It will not be easy, and we will make many, many, many, many, false steps, but that is where Grace comes in.
Now, more than ever, the world needs us to be the church of Jesus Christ. This is why we are here in this time and in this place. Let’s show Tustin, Orange County, California, the USA and the World who we are.