It’s no secret–there’s a lot of bad stuff going on in this world!
My heart is heavy because a lot of people I know, and many I don’t, are in pain today. There’s strife, anger, frustration, and fear boiling up…and boiling over.
I know people who are dealing with issues at work, where they’re being mistreated, misrepresented, and–in at least one case–fired for very questionable reasons. I know others who are having to make very difficult, unpopular decisions knowing that their integrity and character will be impugned.
In Ferguson, Missouri, anger, rage and frustration are boiling over–and it’s spreading. Years of thinking that the authorities are out to get them are causing some people to protest angrily. Others are taking advantage of the situation and furthering the ‘criminal thug’ image.
Across the world, ISIS is spreading hate with the edge of a machete, intimidating and then killing those who disagree with their particular brand of Islamic theology, and using terror and threats to force people to ‘convert or die’.
What can be done? How can we make a difference?
How do we live in a world like this? How are we–people who just want to love and be loved, to be accepted and to offer acceptance regardless of skin color, opinions, politics or religion –to live? How are we to interact with the world situation without making matters worse?
We simply MUST begin to see people the way God sees them–as His creations, whom He loves. We MUST learn to see past the stereotypes, the rumors, and the headlines, and start treating people with respect, dignity, and love. Jesus said as much when He said “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)
We have a choice to make, every day: Are we going to live more as children of God, or people of this world? Are we going to view people as He does–people who are lost in sin and need a Savior? Are we going to start giving grace in our personal lives, choosing to believe the best about them, or are we just going to go with the stereotypes that the media propagates and assume ‘others are bad’ and ‘we are good’?
1st Corinthians 13:4-7 shows us how we should be living–especially if we’re children of God, through faith in Jesus: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
How do we do that, in a world full of strife, hatred, gossip and negativity? It’s tough! It takes prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It also takes people who are willing to do the following:
Stand for Truth, even if it’s unpopular.
The truth is that prejudice exists-from all races toward all others. Police brutality does exist, and so does common thief thuggery. We don’t really know everything that went on there, but presumably the Grand Jury heard a lot more than we did and chose to go this way.
Stand Against Evil, even if it makes you a target.
Pure evil exists, and must be confronted–whether in the Middle East, in Missouri, or in our own workplaces and homes.
ISIS IS evil, period…and this kind of evil-in-the-name-of-god must be stopped wherever it shows up. Police officers, bosses or family members who use their position of ‘authority’ to abuse others or ‘put them in their place’ are being evil. Looting and burning business is criminal–that’s not ‘demonstration’, it’s sinful criminality, and evil.
All of these behaviors and mindsets do the devil’s work on earth! Don’t get sucked in…instead, confront it and rise above it!
Offer Grace, even if it’s hard.
Remember that you make mistakes, you misunderstand people, and you have overreacted in difficult circumstances. The ‘other person’ may have mistreated you. You may be in the right and they’re in the wrong. Forgive them, show them grace. God will supply the strength to do so.
Remember, God forgave you even though you didn’t deserve it. Through Jesus Christ, He offers us forgiveness and new life! Celebrate that, and share THAT message!
Over the next several days, you’ll probably have a chance to talk about these things. Make up your mind, with God’s strength, that you are not going to perpetuate the hate, but instead will Stand for Truth, Confront Evil, and all the while, Offer Grace.
YOU be the Difference Maker!
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
YOU be a Difference Maker! Speak LIFE!