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To Be the Church

I've been thinking a lot lately about how divided our country has become.

I hear Christians bashing Christians for their "wrong" political views.

I read hateful comments between Christians because of differing opinions in regards to what is right and wrong.

I see Christians overwhelmed with fear over what is happening to the politics of our country.

And then I read verses in the Bible that say "they will know we are Christians by our love," "the greatest commandments are to love God and love others," "we are to lay down our lives for one another" and "do not fear for I am with you" and I wonder if we truly believe what is in the Bible, why is it that our actions and lives are not reflecting what the Bible says?

If we are called to pick up our crosses and follow Jesus and be images of God but end up people bashing, saying hateful things toward others, and living in fear as we spread fear into those around us, we are not being Christlike.

If the Bible says God is trustworthy, why are we putting our trust in men, institutions, and policies?

If the Bible says we should lay down our lives for our brothers, why are we insisting on our own rights, making our lives more important than the other?

If the Bible calls us to be the kinds of people who are so full of grace, love, kindness, forgiveness, and unity that others are drawn to Christ, why is it that our presence is actually repelling people from Christ?

I believe we need a recalibration, a reassessing of who it is we are reflecting in this divided time.

We must learn to trust that God's plan for redeeming the world continues to be in process no matter how difficult things around us become.

After all, He is the one constant through it all.

So, how are we to do this? How is it even possible to live a life worthy of the calling of Christ?

I believe it begins with our view of who God is and how He sees us.

If we believe in an angry God who is out to get us, whose thumb is hovering over us, just waiting to squish us to death, a God who can't wait to throw the evil ones into hell for eternal punishment, and who is going to burn up this world and everything in it because it is evil and terrible, then our lives rightfully will be filled with fear, anxiety, and hopelessness, and we don't really have a reason to care as to what happens to this world or the people who are destined for hell.

If we believe in a loving God, who created us in His own image, to be image bearers to the world, to reflect His love and light into the darkness, and have a part to play in ushering in His Kingdom of restoration and redemption, then our lives will be filled with hope, goodness, grace, love, and peace.

The way we see God and understand how He sees us is reflective on how we treat others.

Do we see others as lost souls who need to be convinced that the saving blood of Jesus will save them from the burning flames of hell?

Or do we see others as ones who Christ loves with a passion deep enough that He would leave His righteous ones to go in search of them?

When our focus is solely on the afterlife, our reason for living a life that reflects the love of Jesus becomes meaningless.

If we are to be the Church here an now, we must lay down our crosses, rights, and political party leanings and love one another as Christ loves the Church, especially in this extremely volatile and politically divisive time in our nation.

Let's learn to shut our mouths when others bash us by asking God to show us how to listen.

Let's learn to turn the other cheek when we are attacked by asking God to help us remember that those who are attacking us are deeply loved by Jesus.

Let's ask God to teach us how to pray for those who hurt us so that we can stop repelling the world by our divisive speech and actions that are so contrary to who Jesus is.

Let's trust that He has it handled, and we are doing the opposite of what we are called to be by our divisiveness, fear-mongering, and the violence our words and actions are creating.

Let's be salt and light and become the kinds of people God can use to bring love, joy, hope, and peace to those around us.

Let's be peacemakers, justice bringers, and see others as ones who Christ loves and cares for very deeply.

Just as we have been invited into God's loving community, may we invite others along through our acts of kindness and grace, through our boundless love and humility, and our peaceful and vulnerable presence.

Let's learn to live a life worthy of the calling of the Church, the Bride of Christ, and warm the earth with His love.

Dear Lord, have mercy on us. Have mercy on Your Church. I ask for Your forgiveness for my attitude of selfishness, ego, and lack of listening. I pray for Your help to teach me how to listen to the other, how to turn the other cheek, how to trust that You are in control and that You are in the process of redeeming this world even though it seems so dark and cold right now. Be with Your Church, Your people, Your Bride, whom You find beautiful and worthy of bearing Your image. May this be a time of reckoning, where we are able to lay aside our rights for the sake of those who have lived their lives struggling for their rights. Help us to take the time to stop and listen with love and grace. Have mercy on us, Lord. Amen.

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