I was fortunate to be able to go to the beach with my family last week. We had a great time of kayaking, bike riding, reading, building sand castles and swimming. We also ate our fair share of Blue Bell Ice Cream each night. What a way to finish the day!
Though we were able to escape our daily routines in Ohio, we could not escape the underlying burden of all that is going on in our nation and the world. I wanted to just put the COVID Pandemic and the racial tensions on a shelf for the week, but my mind (and heart) just couldn’t let them go. My worries did not wash away by the sea.
Another thing I couldn’t put on the shelf was my summer class. I am taking Theology 2, which is a Systematic Theology course. The course topic for the week was “sin and its origin.” With the aforementioned world events going on, sin was an appropriate subject to be studying through the week.
With all that said, the week away did allow more time to gain some perspective; an eternal, more heavenly perspective.
Since the fall of Adam, we have been dealing with sin. My professor (and our textbooks) made it clear that there are natural evils in the world and there are moral evils in the world. The current pandemic is a natural evil, as is a destructive tornado. Viruses and diseases are a result of The Fall and are a direct result from Adam’s sin in the garden. Sickness and death are not the way it was supposed to be. We try so hard in life to control the natural evils in the world, but in the end, we are at the mercy of God.
Moral evils on the other hand are not out of human control. This is where we have an opportunity to partner together with each other, and with God, to do good rather than evil. We also have the opposite opportunity; to ignore God and harm one another. The word strife means “angry or bitter disagreement over fundamental issues; conflict.” We have seen so much anger and bitterness in both the media and from ourselves in the last two weeks. We have taken so much time and energy to put people into camps and to pit this group vs. that group. We have discussed over-and-over again who is right and who is wrong. We have judged whose point of view is sinful (evil) and whose view is righteous (correct).
Last I checked, we are all wrong according to Romans 3:
9b For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Though Paul wrote this letter to the saints in Rome almost two thousand years ago, it's as if he has been watching us, and then decided to email a reminder.
Have you told people what they need to think, feel and do about what we are all reading in the media? We need to be careful. We need to watch our words. “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” ~Prov. 10:19
Have you prayed? Seriously, have you prayed? And what have you prayed for? For God’s will and glory? For the unity and peace that is found in Christ? ...OR…Have you prayed that others would see that you are right? We need to pray (rightly).
We need to be careful how we judge. We, even Christian brothers and sisters, have made enemies of one another. We have but one enemy! It’s not the media. It’s not another person or group. It is Satan...and he hates us. We have an unstoppable weapon to thwart him (and the evil that flows from him). Yet...we would rather talk about each other to each other. And each passing day the enemy gains more ground in our hearts. God help us.
If it seemed like Paul was talking to us directly in Romans 3, how much more is God talking to us from 2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Less media, more praying. Less talking, more silence. Less judging, more serving. May we be a people who bring change the way that our Lord did during his three-year ministry. He never attacked and He was never defensive of himself. He prayed, He was silent, He served.
We have feared so many things. May we fear You alone, Lord.
Father, forgive us.