I don’t know what to say. I really don’t know what to say to my kids or to the youth and families that I work with. For those of you who know me, know I am not normally at a loss for words. Today as I watched the events unfold at the capitol I was saddened, shocked and disturbed. What was more shocking to me was the number of posts on facebook about sticking it to people we disagree with politically. Comments like you didn’t speak out this summer when their were riots or you spoke out then and aren’t speaking out now or some other forms of attack on people we disagree with politically. It was ugly and hurtful all around. So how do I talk with my kids and families about what is happening? How should I as a Christian leader respond to this crisis in our world?
I still don’t know for sure? I don’t know if responding to every hateful or angry person on my feed is helpful. My guess it that it isn’t. In fact I think today we need stop and listen not respond. Listen to what God would have us do. Listen to how God is speaking in our lives. Most importantly listen to those around us and have empathy and compassion to those who are hurting on both side. Yes speak against violence in the streets or in the capitol but listen to people.
Today as I went through my day I had the opportunity to sit a listen to a few different people about different situations in their lives. People who in different simple conversations shared their lives. They shared about how they are feeling or how they are doing. Listening allowed me to hear them. So often we are quick to speak and share our thoughts but are we slow to listen. Too often we want to have answers or we want to speak up, but today I was reminded we need to listen more and talk less.
So what I am sharing with my kids and what I sharing with you that are reading this, we live in a world that is angry. In a nation that wants to speak and be heard, maybe we as Christians should stop and listen. Stop and be the hands and feet of Jesus. Let us be peace makers and people of hope. Today is Epiphany. The day we remember that God wants all people to know of his love for the world. Maybe today we can share Jesus with people just by listening and offering peace.
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
So here is a blog post I just couldn’t write. I had to make a video because I felt the words would get lost. This is to everyone who needs to be reminded to come back. I pray this is a blessing and nudge of the Holy Spirit.
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
Matthew 5:43-46 NIV
Have you prayed for your enemy? These are words I was convicted with this week. Life in ministry can be hard and sometimes it feels like enemies are all around. In days of stress and struggle it is easy to just be angry or irritated by many different things. These can be things you would normally brush off your back but now get bottled up and you eventually explode. It can be people you never met, people in the news, people your work with, people you are related to. We can have enemies in all corners of our lives. So are you praying for your enemies?
I have had people in my life that I have been frustrated with. I have people in my life that our relationship is broken and I have probably spent too much time being frustrated by their lack of change instead of reaching out to the one who can bring that change. Am i praying for them? You see one of the hardest things that we can do as Christians is pray for those who have hurt us. Pray for those who are hurting us. Pray for those who are hurt. Pray for those in power over us.
I was convicted to pray for my enemies. So here is what I am doing for the next week. I am going to pray for my enemies by name. I am going to pray for a softening heart. I am praying for wisdom for them and myself. I am praying for peace in our lives. I am praying for forgiveness. I am praying for repentance. I am praying for Gods mighty hand in all this. So join me as we pray for our enemies.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
John 14:27English Standard Version (ESV)
I have two stories to share with you in this time of struggle. Maybe Jesus is leading us as Christians to be those who help bring peace not fear, to bring joy instead of heartache.
Today as I made my way out and about to do my weekly grocery stuff for the house I was was reminded that people need peace. I went to Meijer to get groceries. I stopped two people who were working after I saw them sound exacerbated with people asking questions and generally people being angry with the workers. I just walked over stopped them and said “Thank you for serving us, I really appreciate what you are here doing for everyone including myself.” The two I talked with, for just a few seconds, were shocked and said thank you. I hope it set their day in a new direction of peace in these tough time.
Later today I was outside with my kid and my neighbor walked over. He was curious about some work I had done on my house and asked if I liked it. As we talked about it our conversation turned to his anxiousness about what is happening between his retirement accounts, and getting food. As we talked I had the opportunity to share with him about how God is working in all this and how we will all get through this. We cant control these things so I trust in Jesus to get us through this. He walked away thanking me for helping him feel less anxious.
These stories aren’t about me. They are about how right now our world needs to see peace and calm. Our world doesn’t need more things to worry about, but needs to see Christians caring for our neighbors, sharing the peace we have in Jesus. So today if it is your neighbor, or your family, or your co-workers be someone who brings peace and joy, not worry or tension. People need that today as they do every day.
I had a bad day. I am going to bed angry with my children for their attitudes, and their mood swings. I am angry because today one of them lied to my face and she is the young one. She is supposed to be my innocent one. She is supposed to be the one we did this parenting thing correctly. For a moment I thought I need to just pull out my Thor hammer and play whack kid. I was reminded today that I am raising sinners. I was reminded I am the chief of them.
Every parent if we are honest holds to proverb 22:6
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
We think if we just teach them correctly they will be perfect little angels. Today is another reminder that my kids aren’t perfect and that they resemble more closely this verse:
10 “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Acts 13:10
Here is the rub, on most days I epitomize this verse also. You see every day I know I should have more patient. I know I should have more kind words. I know I should be praying for them and with them. I should be reminding them I am not perfect (although they know it, they need to hear it as well). They need to know the only remedy is Jesus. Jesus’ forgiveness for us brings a new day. It brings healing to these broken relationships. It brings peace to situations that are in chaos.
I think often as parents we are afraid to say this. That we all have days, weeks, months even years where we are chief of sinners. We fail to point our kids to Jesus. Being a parent is hard. We are all sinners in need of Jesus.
So tonight I am on my knees in prayer. I am praying for my kids, I am praying for my wife, and I am praying for me. I am praying we would experience Christ’s forgiveness. Lets join together in prayer as we walk with Jesus.
3 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14 NIV