Advent is here and halfway gone at this point. Two candles are burning tonight as we do our family reading. The flames dancing a beautiful and joyful dance as my boys pay rapt attention to the words that I am reading eager to find Christ in our Christmas season.
This year I am feeling in a new way the pain and confusion and fear that the occupied children of Israel felt all those years ago as they longed for the Messiah to come. Hysteria and distrust and division are running rampant here in our country and around our world.
Neighbor is judging neighbor and vice versa.
Liberals are judging conservatives and vice versa.
Caucasians are judging African-Americans and vice versa.
Church goer is judging a church goer of another denomination and vice versa.
Christians are judging non-Christians and vice versa.
Christians are judging Muslims and vice versa.
And all of this judging is leading to mass chaos and confusion and fear. We fear what we can’t see or what we can’t understand. But we are to busy judging everything and everybody that we aren’t taking the time to understand and embrace our differences. We are so convinced that our ways are the only right ways. The only intelligent ways. The only logical ways.
And we struggle on together sinking further into darkness. Satan is dancing in glee as he watches us tear each other apart.
We all want to know all the reasons and have all of the answers for all of the problems in our lives, work places, churches, communities, schools, countries — the list is endless. We forget that we don’t understand the ways in which God moves in the world or that it just isn’t possible for us to always understand why something has happened. We have to have faith and trust God to work through us to reach the lost. Only he can bring about changes in the hearts of people:
Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.Isaiah 55:6-9 (NRSV)
I am learning to try to let go and let God. No changes come that he isn’t behind. It really isn’t my place to judge anyone. Just as it isn’t my place to have all the answers to all of the world’s problems.
I am a sinner too. My sins are most likely different sins and a combination of things unique to my brokeness, but sin is sin. We all have a sinful human nature. The only fix for that is to accept God’s gift of costly saving grace and to give him thanks and praise for it. In return we need to learn how to live in obedience to his will and with a humble heart.
And we are called to LOVE.
But there is just so much hate.
So much anger.
So much fear.
So much rage.
And my soul is suffocating…
I have seriously been contemplating a Facebook fast because all of the hate and anger and fear that is showing up all over my news feeds. It is so overpowering and oppressive. It physically hurts me to see all of the nastiness and the lack of any compassion or empathy for anyone anywhere. This season of joy has felt anything but joyful.
The world isn’t black and white.
It isn’t us against them.
It isn’t Christian or Muslim.
It is all of it. It is Christian and Muslim, and Hindu, and Aethiest, and Anarchist and a hundred other kinds of unique value systems.
It is a swirl of greys with all the rainbows of diversity mixed in and as long as we as humans refuse to look into the swirls we are going to continue to descend into ever darkening chaos! Have we learned nothing in all this time that the world has been turning? Violence begets violence, and may bring about a temporary cease-fire. Peace brought about by violence doesn’t last. Perhaps it is time to look at the third way that we learn from the baby who was born to save us and grew to into the sacrifical lamb who became our Savior.
We are not the new Israel. Even if we discerned that we were, Jesus brought love to temper the law of the Old Testament. Is there genocide and massive killing and destruction in the Bible? Yes there is, but there are many more instances when the children of Israel trusted in Yahweh to fight their battles for them. And he did just that.
With pestilence to hinder and weaken the enemy.
With confusion for the enemy.
With a boy who would be King who won an entire battle by taking down just one soldier, not an entire army, let alone a nation of people.
With his mighty angel armies.
Even though I keep considering a Facebook fast, it hasn’t happened yet. I noticed a conversation on a post yesterday and added a comment which I think is fitting to end this as well:
We as the Christian church in America, regardless of the denomination, have all forgotten that Jesus overturned everything with his commands to LOVE – friends AND enemies. We as a society have got to learn that we can love each other as human beings without accepting all of the actions and/or beliefs of others. We can show mercy and love and compassion to each other. We don’t have to “fix” everyone so that they think and believe just like us. That is the work of God with the Holy Spirit and is done in his own time. We are simply called to love as the hands and feet of God as he calls us to move and work for his Kingdom. A watered down version of his very radical and powerful lesson I know. Tolerance has become a twisted version of itself and more or less seems to be ceasing to exist.
“True tolerance is not a total lack of judgement. It’s knowing what should be tolerated, and refusing to tolerate that which shouldn’t.” – Chuck Colson