When I was growing up in the Chicago area you had a choice. You could either be for truth and righteousness, or you could be a White Sox fan. OK, I’m teasing my friends who root for the White Sox, but you really had to choose. You couldn’t be for both teams. My dad used to have a running bet with his barber. Every year they bet a whole dollar on which team would have the better record. The Sox almost always won. One year, my dad paid off the bet by gluing 100 pennies on a poster board so that they spelled out “Cubs.” You didn’t claim to be a Cubs fan and wear a White Sox shirt or cap. You didn’t claim to be a White Sox fan and wear a Cubs shirt or cap.
One of the most difficult things for me to see as a Christian is other people who claim to be followers of Christ and yet live in ways that don’t reflect the glory and grace of Christ. I don’t think I demand perfection, otherwise I’d be in trouble, but when I see attitudes and actions that seem to go completely against the message of Jesus, I have a hard time reconciling their words of faith and their lives of rebellion. Oh, this isn’t an observation that our life after coming to Christ needs works for salvation; it is a recognition that the grace of God should bring changes to people. If a person has truly surrendered to God, it should make an immediate difference. John put it very simply: “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)
While those words seem easy to understand, John was a little harsher earlier in that passage when he said that if you claim to know Jesus but don’t follow His commands, you’re a liar. Society is tense these days. I see brothers and sisters in Christ arguing politics in person and in social media with what seems to be a lot of hatred. People who used to be friends are making snide comments about their former friends because of who they support. Did supporting a candidate a) make them not a follower of Christ and b) worthy of hatred? Oh wait, we aren’t called to hate people even if they aren’t a follower of Christ. If we can’t love the brother or sister we know, how can we love the God we haven’t seen? (paraphrase from 1 John 4:20) Will we really let our opinion of politicians divide us when we, as brothers and sisters in Christ should have a bond that is far stronger? We must live in Jesus first, not in the man-hates-man political realm.
I am also amazed at brothers and sisters in Christ who are arguing about which lives matter. God has created us and loved each of us far beyond what we deserve. Jesus died on the cross because all lives matter. Because I believe all lives matter, I have no problem saying Black Lives Matter. They do. The perception that many of those in the Black community have is that people don’t see their lives as mattering so we need to stand with our brothers and sisters in the Black community and proclaim that their lives matter. Because all lives matter I can say that Blue Lives Matter. Many of those in the Blue community see themselves as being under attack in recent days. We need to stand and support those in the Blue Community as well. Need I go on? We can say that Black Lives Matter without excluding all other colors; we can say that Blue Lives matter without excluding all other colors. We can say that all lives matter without ignoring the concerns of others. If Jesus could proclaim that #SamaritanLivesMatter there is no one beyond His love. And if Jesus could love someone we are called to do the same.
Lord God, our country needs healing and it must begin with Your people. Remind us to love each other, and to show that love no matter what the political differences may be; no matter what exterior differences may be. Remind us that we are all to have the heart of Jesus towards others in all we say and do.
(Special Note: Today there is a shout out to my dad who was a great influence on me. I mentioned him on the anniversary of his death because he had such a great influence. The world is better because he lived. I pray that someday others can say the same about me.)