All you have to do is turn on the TV or Social Media for five minutes today to understand that our society is facing a myriad of issues. As I look back on our great country’s history, I am not sure that I can find a time that has seemed more explosive and divisive.
Living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, over the last several years I have often found myself in the heart of the national divide. Milwaukee is one of the most racially segregated cities in the country. Crime is rampant, the debate on labor unions almost cost a governor his job, drug and alcohol abuse is at an all-time high, and unemployment is fueling a poverty rate that has decimated families everywhere. When you couple that with an upcoming election where both candidates have historically high disapproval ratings, it is easy to see that things might get worse before they get better.
As we navigate these challenging times, consider the following questions:
Where am I choosing to get my information? Not too long ago there was a picture on social media that showed two very different headlines from the same newspaper. The headlines were published on the same day but had been changed to support the views of the people living in the region they were distributed in. It is no doubt that where we live and the people we do life with will shape our views on society. However, we as the Church are not supposed to only live in our community. We are to venture out into the world, make relationships with others, do our best to understand the tensions that others live in, and then press into the discomfort of doing life with them. If we only allow the information we process to come through the filter of our context then we are missing the big picture.
Are the words I speak coming from a place of love? Without love, our identity as Christ-followers fades away into the noise of a hurting world. As I look at social media particularly, I am often pained to see the brutal attacks Christians lob at those who do not view life as they do. It is important to always remember that Christ loves all human beings deeply and without remorse. In striving to be more like Him, we are called to do the same. It is okay to disagree with another person’s platform, but labeling another human being as “evil” is in essence disrespecting a creation of our Lord. Not one of us is without sin. We all have a lot of work to do to grow into the image of Christ. While some may have more work to do than others, it is our responsibility to always love first and ask questions next, not the other way around.
Where is my faith placed? Andy Stanley said it best not too long ago when we said that we must stop scaring the children. He said this in regard to the upcoming election and where our country may or may not be heading. I don’t know for certain who our next president will be, what things good or bad they might do, or what our country might look like in the next four or eight years. I do know that God has promised to never leave us or forsake us. For this reason, I choose to put my faith in God and His promises. I want to encourage you to avoid placing your faith in a person, allowing the weight of their decisions to override the promises of God. God is with us. He will never leave us.
There is no doubt that the times we live in are tumultuous. Life isn’t easy and the fire of division is already raging in our country. We as Christians have a choice. We can throw fuel on the fire or we can throw water on it. I for one choose to do everything I can to love others and work hard to put out the fires I come across. Only then can we live in a country where love can shine through. How will you choose to contribute?