***This is not my normal style of blog post. I had planned to post my third blog about perfection and good enough, and I will . . . next week. This week, I’m wrestling with all that’s happened in our country. So, I thought we could wrestle with it together. I’d love to hear your thoughts at the end of this post.***
I have a confession to make. I struggle with the thought of being just one person. Just one Christian. For years, this struggle has left me in a place where I figured I can’t change the world, so I’ll focus on living the best Christian life I can. And I’ll ignore . . . not ignore, exactly . . . pray, but keep myself distanced from the world and all that is espouses.
Over the past couple weeks, this mindset has been deeply challenged. First with the shooting of nine people at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, and secondly, with the ruling the Supreme Court made on the definition of marriage last week.
Can I be honest? God’s shown me I have a hard heart. I was definitely grieved when I heard about the tragedy in Charleston. My heart ached for the families and friends who lost a loved one via a bullet from Dylann Roof. I did cry some tears, once the news settled into my spirit. But my first (and short-lived) impression was, “It’s another shooting.” Shame on me, for having this kind of a heart.
When I read about the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday, my first response was cynical. It’s the direction our country’s been moving in for years. One person can’t change a culture. What could I—one stay-at-home-mother—have done from my home in Colorado? Nothing.
Or could I?
As I’ve considered this question over the weekend, I’m convicted by my puny mindset. Yes, I am only one person, but could I have done more to change the outcome of the shooting? To alter the ruling of the highest court in our nation?
Is this the twilight of Christianity in our country? Is it really too late to do anything? To change what’s happening in America?
I don’t think so.
Over the weekend, our pastor shared a message that dared me to think about what I—and all of us who call ourselves Christians—can do now. Very simply stated, we need to love God first, and love others. I am still processing the truths I came away with from his message.
What does this look like for us? I believe each person needs to come before the Lord and ask Him if they have allowed other things to become god in their lives.
God will work most effectively through us when we are humbled and repentant before Him. It’s only when we admit that we are sinners that we can be relatable to those who don’t yet know Him. That we can truly know the forgiveness of God. And share God’s forgiveness with others.
We need to seek Jesus’ presence, not pray to be delivered from our culture, from “bad judges” or people who believe contrary to ourselves.
We seek Him through reading His word.
Through worshiping Him.
And then, through serving and reaching out to others.
I suspect I’m not the only one with the cynical attitude about where our culture is heading. I’m disturbed about how hard my heart has become. Not toward people in my circle of influence. But toward the movers and shakers in our country? Our leaders? Toward all the too-big tragedies that I can’t prevent? Yes (I’m hanging my head), I’ve become a cynic without realizing it.
I’m praying for a softer heart. Because if God is going to use me to change anything, I have to have a heart that’s soft toward Him and tender toward others. I must have eyes that see others like God does. To have a heart like Jesus’ toward people with whom I disagree. I can only have this as I seek Jesus first. As I keep Him as the most important relationship in my life. As I yearn for His presence.
In His presence, I can’t condemn others for what they believe and do. But, I can learn to love them.
As believers we’re called to love others. Jesus didn’t say only love your friends, the people you get along with. He told us to love our enemies, which includes those with whom we disagree.
No lie, this is hard.
What does this sort of loving others look like? It’s going to look different for each of us, but the basics will fall somewhere along these lines. Instead of judging others for lifestyle choices, what if we seek to build relationships with them? What if, through engaging with them with Jesus’ heart, we’re eventually able to share about Jesus with them?
Instead of looking down on people who believe differently from us, what if we were to open conversation and express acceptance of who they are as people? When acceptance is felt, openness begins.
Showing grace instead of condemnation will bring about slow, but real change. No, it probably won’t change the laws of our land. But if we’re seeking and loving God first, and loving others with His love, imagine how the eternal landscape of our country can change.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts about all of this.
What about you? How do you seek God first? What are your thoughts about being one person who can help in changing our culture?