We are living once again in a society filled with hate rhetoric and displays. Not as if it has ever stopped, but it seems to be exposing itself more these days. Having lived through the 60’s causes me to not panic about recent events, but there is reason to be concerned. Why? Because we are turning into the very creatures that we abhor!! For any level of hatred that brings about bigotry and division is not to be tolerated. The events of today in Charlottesville are easier to identify because they are so blatantly about racism and a kind of ignorance that is deeply rooted. We do not want this to have any place in our society. But isn’t this also just the ugliest of reminders of the deeper issues of hate and intolerance that we see every single day played out by a deep and wide cast of people? I believe it is. It reminds me a bit of the speck in your eye and the log in mine.
If this world is to be restored (and I personally do believe that God is in the process of restoring this earth) then we cannot be part of the reactionary momentum swings that we currently see played out in real life, in politics, and in all of the opinion-media that we currently are exposed to daily. If my response to all types of bias, division-seeking rhetoric, political posturing whether in Washington, local government, or church, is to respond back with what some would say is a justified anger, hatred, and bias, then what will be the end to that game? Who wins? Nobody.
If you think your hatred is justified then by what standard do you say somebody else’s hatred is not? There is no justification for hatred that turns into division that turns into racism that turns into bigotry of all forms. And as many are now calling out for condemnation of the events in Charlottesville and in any place of violent protest for that matter, is condemning anything or anyone the response we are to have as christians? This is bothersome to me.
You see, I do believe our world will be restored by God through his people, and that the part we each play in this restoration comes through our own pain and suffering. Yes, you heard that correctly. I do now believe that this is the only way that God can be revealed on this earth through his people during the process of restoration. Trying it through politics is a bust; trying it through demonstrating a “successful life” is not the answer. Approaching it with a social justice is worthy and to be applauded, but is there a dimension that is missing that can make it much more effective? But when we suffer through our own pain, loss, and torment with a purpose and do not allow that suffering to bring about a reaction of anger, bitterness, and hate, then everyone can recognize the true power and restorative power of God himself.
In the book of John it is said about Jesus that He was sent to this world not to condemn it, but that the world through Him might be saved. If we are to be like Jesus, and we are, then why would anyone want to now be calling for a condemnation of others no matter how severe their hatred or their motives? How can people see Jesus in us if our condemnation of others is so strong that He cannot fulfill His very purpose that was clearly stated in His word? Well, if you don’t believe His word, then that would be one answer. But what about those of us who do?
It’s easy to throw around sweet sounding phrases like “love wins”, but what does that really mean when you strip everything away? How can that be best demonstrated today in our lives so that it flows out to others as living water? Well, every period of history has its marking, and I believe we are in a period where that love which brings about restoration can only be a pure love when it comes through our own loss, pain, suffering, disappointment, and torment, flowing out with a living example of what it means when it says “all things work together for good…”
Romans 8:28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
What is the process? Romans 5:3-5 says this:
3And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
What is the character it is to produce in us? Well, at least part of it is this:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
This is no rah rah approach to living the christian life, but I do believe it is the path that we are increasingly being called to take. If not this, then explain to me all of the unresolved pain, hate, loss, insult, and tribulation so many are facing today who know God and are following him? There must be a purpose in this or it is all for naught.
Yes, I am extremely bothered by the events of today, by terrorism, possible new war, the sex trade and modern day slavery, the plight of people around the world which is unspeakable, the collapse of effective leadership at nearly every level of society, and the severe challenges so many of us are facing here in the U.S. that attempt to attack the very fabric of what has sustained us for years. To the pats on the back, the “you can do it speeches”, the “somebody else has it worse than you”, and on and on….those lifeless and powerless and weak words that come from people who often haven’t had to face it themselves…I say “leave me alone!” We are being called to be a living example and since we are all so off base for the most part, the ONLY way is to offer ourselves up as a “living sacrifice” so that God’s power can be revealed through us. Not through our own strength, not through the practice of one religious ritual over another, but through His spirit being reborn through the defeat of our earthly battle so that His glory is revealed. This calls me to a new level and it taps into the renewed commitment so many younger people have today who want purpose and want to make a difference with their lives.
The path is not an easy one. But consider what happened to 11 of the 12 disciples of Christ, and to Jesus Himself! Consider “the great cloud of witnesses” mentioned in Hebrews 11. Let’s get real and let’s start giving purpose to the pain in our world, the injustice we see, and the destruction taking place in our lives and in countries around the world. How? Not through tweets or blogs like this or FB or another study, but by being the very people we were called to be. One of the more powerful ways for this to happen is to share in the suffering of others. Maybe that someone else will be of a different lifestyle than yours, maybe a white nationalist, may be a drunkard, prostitute, or a politician. Walk a mile in someone else’s suffering and rarely will you then condemn them; rarely will you hate them. Rarely will you ask others to make a strong public statement against them. By sharing in the suffering of others, the process of restoration will take place and will multiply. Without it, I don’t believe there is much hope in this world. With it, I believe we each can be changed and the world around us.
This is not the ONLY way, but it is A way and it is relevant to most since there are few who are untouched by the pain, grief, sorrow, or tribulations mentioned in Romans.
It is through our pain and suffering that the world can be restored through the power of God that is revealed. There are great testimonies of this at work today, and it is one thing that can literally shock others into seeing the transcendent power that comes from a much higher place than only the human spirit…as powerful as it can be. I am committing to being part of this process and I have been learning this principle in the midst of a 6 year long battle on numerous fronts. It is an understanding I have not come to lightly, but one in which I believe purpose is discovered and life is restored . Someday we will see His New Earth…and we are part of it being established today by allowing His kingdom to live and reside within us daily. Don’t walk it out alone. I am grateful for close friends who have understood, offered help when needed, but also knew it was a battle ultimately I had to face. Many of you have experienced the same thing. As was said to Joshua, be bold and be strong. Meditate on His words day and night; meditate on Him. Pray not for God to take away your suffering but pray that He will sustain you “in it” so that “through it” His power will be revealed in your life and in others ability to see God through it. Carry your past pain carefully, but loosely because it is His to carry with you. We are still human, so grieving must take place, and some grieving lasts a lifetime but only takes on different forms. That’s OK. You’ll know the difference when you get to that point.
Thank you for reading this without judgment but with an open mind and heart. That’s the only reason I wrote it to begin with. Blessings to each of you!