HOW TO STAY GROUNDED DURING THE CRAZIEST YEAR EVER
Well, that might be somewhat of an overstatement to those who have been around long enough to remember World War 2 or Vietnam/The Civil Rights Movement …but for many of us, 2020 takes the cake. We’re all continuing to deal with the global COVID-19 pandemic, race protests have sparked civil unrest across the world (with Portland being the current focal point), and America seems more divided and polarized than ever as we race toward November elections.
America is in crisis right now, and it’s time for God’s people to step up; but not in the way you might think. This is not a political commentary promoting solutions to the current economic or social challenges we are facing. This is about what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the midst of it. There are selected people who are appointed to get involved in various levels of government and society; but all of Jesus’ people are called to exemplify His values, attitudes, and behaviors in our daily lives.
God is calling His people – His Church – to know Him intimately, and reflect Him in ways that give Living Hope to all kinds of different people whose ideals and dreams and allegiances are being knocked-around. What I see right now is people posturing and fighting against each other to promote polarized agendas that blame the other side for all of life’s problems; and in many cases the people of Jesus are getting caught up in the fear-frenzy right along with everyone else.
……Let’s pause here for a gut-check…
Go with me, if you will, to 1st Century Jerusalem. Harassed and accused by an angry mob of detractors who wanted Him dead, Jesus stands before Pontus Pilate and says, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).
Jesus wasn’t/isn’t merely another soothsayer or commentator on current events. He was/is the Lord of another Kingdom… a spiritual reality that transcends the world as we know it. As citizens of that Kingdom living in the current world, we need to check our loyalties! We can learn a lot by looking at how Jesus and His earliest followers acted in the New Testament. You don’t see Him/them getting wrapped-up in social/political issues, but always focused on carrying-out God’s work with the people around them. THE KINGDOM IS ALWAYS ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL.
Our meaning & hope & joy do not come from the circumstances of our lives, the fulfillment of our social / political ideologies, or even the state of the world we live in. These are not unimportant, but they are not ultimate. We must remain focused on Him, growing in allegiance to His Ways and His Mission so that our hearts don’t get swept away in the currents of the world’s fears and concerns and solutions. God has called us citizens of a different Kingdom, and His desire is that we be one in spirit & purpose as His ambassadors here.
So let me ask you…
- Is it possible to experience God’s peace in spite of COVID-19 and all of its ramifications
- Is it possible to have strong opinions while maintaining relationship with those you disagree with?
- Is it possible to carry/embody God’s love for both Protesters & Police?
- Is it possible to champion God’s purposes in a way that transcends socio-political differences?
- Is it possible to be responsible and fruitful in this world without acting like it’s our home?
YES…by offering ourselves as living sacrifices to God; not conforming to the pattern of this world, but allowing Him to transform us so that we can know and carry-out His desires moment by moment. (see Rom. 12)
Personally, I try to avoid getting caught-up in either side of political or social issues generally…not because I don’t care about health or economics or politics, but because when individual followers of Jesus commit to His redemptive purposed in all of our day-to-day endeavors with people, we re-present His Presence in ways that create ripples of true healing, hope, and joy that will last into the next Kingdom.
Let’s keep our heads during this wacky time…. and remember the real enemy, the real Master, and the real Kingdom. Let’s be about His business.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25)
“Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.” (1Peter 3:8-9…and you should keep reading to v.18!)
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)
“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God on the day He visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)