As Far As It Depends on You…

Newsflash: There’s a LOT of conflict in our world!

Between riots in Charlotte, NC, weekly violence in places like Chicago, Terrorism in New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota…there is no shortage of violence.

Police killing civilians, Civilians killing police, Citizens killing citizens…seems as though we hear a lot more about it now.

Violence, as they say, begets violence.

Add to that the ‘soft’ conflicts that happen in political ‘debate’ and ‘discussion’, Facebook or Twitter ‘wars’ which can quickly escalate to the point that two people who would normally get along…even enjoy each other…even love each other, can be angry and embittered with one another because of their political (or moral, or spiritual) disagreements.

As I observe all this, I tend to think of a ‘downward spiral of conflict’, where we go faster and faster down a relational ‘hole’ that we can’t get back out of.

If something does not change, our families, friendships, churches and communities will be destroyed. Our society is at a bit of a ‘tipping point’, and I wonder if more violence will set the tone for a dramatically bad turn of events, depending on the outcome of the election this fall. Certainly there are ‘elements’ in both Clinton and Trump camps that may react very negatively (and violently) if the other side wins.

…all the while, satan–our spiritual enemy–sits back and laughs.

That’s right…satan.

Once he got us to focus on ‘self’ and ‘what I want, I deserve, it became very easy to go to ‘What I want, I deserve, and anyone who stands in the way of that is my enemy.’

That is the mindset of evil, and our society is being played.

At KCC, we’ve talked a lot about a verse that is a ‘worldview’ verse in some ways…it indicates in many ways, the reason things are what they are in this world…and helps us ask questions that will get us out of that ‘downward spiral’.

“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, to the full” (Jesus’ words in John 10:10)

The thief–satan, our enemy, is always trying to destroy. He’s always trying to divide, cause conflict, and incite animosity toward others. IF we let him, he destroys families, churches, communities, and eventually, our society and our world.

It’s what he does.

“He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies”. (Jesus’ words in John 8:44)

This is what is happening in our culture, as people plug their ears to the truth, center on their own desires, and lob accusations against ‘the other side’.

What can we do instead?

Choose to listen. Try to understand. Seek to give the benefit of the doubt.

If you are a follower of Jesus, we must seek peace!

“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”–Psalm 34:14

That is part of the “Life, to the full” that Jesus promised–relational peace and unity.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21)

WE must be those who ‘overcome evil with good’!

WE must be those who leave room for God to avenge.

WE must be he ones who refuse to ‘pay back evil with evil, but to do what is right’.

WE must be the ones who make it our goal to live this out: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone!”

Will there be ‘bad guys’ on the other side of the spectrum? Yes.

Will there be ‘bad guys’ on our end of the spectrum? Regrettably, yes!

YOU and I–as Christ followers–cannot be one of them!

We MUST seek peace and pursue it!

We must listen, love, discuss, share, give grace, and remain committed to the truth–in LOVE!

That is the only hope for our society!

If you’re a Christian, YOU represent Jesus!

Commit yourself to living like it!

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