See Part I LISTEN.Part III PRAY
As I was finishing Part I of this post, I realized that what was developing in my head as Part II had also been very helpful over the years. Yes, by far, the most helpful thing over the long term will be learning learning to pray more for our nation. (That will be covered in Part III.) We need GOD to visit us in ways He hasn’t for a long time.
Many in the church have come to expect a political party to rescue our country and that is so not the truth! It just isn’t. And it isn’t the Gospel at all! Back in Jesus’ day, the government was so obviously evil that there was no defending them. After all, they were killing Christians!
Are we tolerating immorality in our leaders simply because of how they promise to vote? This end-justifies-the-means-morality is not justified. Sometimes, our choices are between 2 scoundrels, but we don’t have to defend the immoral behavior of anyone!
But in terms of morality, we have slid a long way! In the past couple of years, I have heard Christians defending a president and other people running for office who very likely had been having affairs on their wives…and worse. Why? Simply because this was a pro-life candidate? That is not a good reason to defend that kind of behavior? For one man, the women kept piling up and piling up who had been inappropriately treated over many years…and still Christians were defending the man! Is it any wonder that unbelievers have a horrible view of Christians, their view of women, their attitude toward women and their desire to actually get to the truth?
Ignoring complaints of sexual abuse or inappropriate sexual behavior in the church, is illegal and wrong. We are supposed to have the authorities investigate the charges. GOD is big enough to handle them for us. The price for covering up charges and allowing someone to continue their evil behavior is way too high! The church looks like we don’t care about righteousness or justice. All we care about is power. That is not what we want! It is definitely not what GOD wants!
The awful sexual abuse situation in a number of large churches that have recently come to light have only reinforced these attitudes. We have not shown ourselves to be a group who truly want to know the truth no matter what…particularly when it comes to inappropriate relationships with women or charges of women. The law is that the church should be taking these charges to the police. Too many times, this was not done. Why? Because of our desire to maintain power. No, we wouldn’t state it that way. We have all kinds of ways we state it.
So youth pastors were moved on to other churches. Senior pastors were protected and life moved on. The women were ignored and belittled. And after much perseverance, they eventually were found to be right! Manmade kingdoms came crashing. Sometimes, this happened decades after the first offenses and after more and more women or children were offended.
GOD was good and showed His light on evil. But look at the awful price that was paid because we were not willing to stand up for righteousness and justice! We have a long way to go to show that we care about these important values in our culture. We just aren’t good at standing up for the weak, the poor, or those who have no power.
I hate any forms of sexual misconduct. I also hate when charges are baseless. I have seen both. Baseless charges are horrid as well. The damage is very difficult to recover from. We cannot believe everyone who makes the charge. But we need to allow third parties to help make those decisions when we are too close. To say that all women are honest or all men are not is false! We must pray for discernment and it is much needed in this kind of situation. We must be kind to the accuser as the process works itself out. Preferably the charges can be quiet until the investigations happen. Sadly, that doesn’t always happen. Enough said.
How do we mix in our communities? It takes learning to humble ourselves. We don’t have all the answers. We know about the gospel. That is one answer we have. But we don’t have every single answer.
My main goal in this post however, has to do with mixing in our community. In order to mix well, we need to humble ourselves. Living in Jamaica was wonderful for me on many levels. I had to put on a new set of glasses for so many things. When I returned to the US, I was never the same. I still think of something some good friends of ours said there regarding politics. They said that their feeling was that every 8 years the government needed to change to protect any one party from getting too powerful and too evil. Their concept was that if a party stays in power too long, they get crooked and too corrupt. That’s why the other party needs to take power and get rid of the people in power and clean out the dark corners. I have seen some truth to that even when parties had beliefs I wasn’t fond of.My main goal in this post however, has to do with mixing in our community. In order to mix well, we need to humble ourselves. Listen more than speaking is part of it. Finding common ground to agree on is another part. Click To Tweet
Another part of mixing and learning to be humble is something I appreciated when I worked as a nurse. It had to do with being with and around people you work with who come from different viewpoints than you. Listen to what they have to say. I remember a couple of discussions we all got into before Obama was elected. It was very interesting to hear the views of many of the ladies I worked with. I remember one of the well educated RN’s saying, “Even if there was a black republican running, I would never vote for him.” I was stunned by that. She was absolutely determined she would never vote for anyone, even of her own race, if he were running as a republican. I managed to learn a few reasons why this was true, but it was mostly a heart level belief, not a logical one. It had nothing to do with planks or issues. She simply had a prejudice against one party based on a few bad experiences, but mostly based on a lot of bad information. (Not that I am recommending one party. It’s an illustration of a decision NOT to vote for a party that had nothing to do with their beliefs at any given time.)
Being humble enough to agree with people when they make an important point helps a lot. Being willing to treat them respectfully even when they don’t always do the same to you takes GOD’s grace…but eventually they remember that you aren’t the same as everyone else. It has to be genuine. It can NOT be fake.
I also learned the power of discussing books we read or movies we watch. One woman, also an RN, who was very stand-offish to the white nurses. By that I mean that even simple acts of friendship were rebuffed. In a very casual conversation about our weekend, she was shocked that my husband and I had watched the movie The Great Debaters. She told me I must be very open-minded. I said, “I don’t think I’m unusually open-minded. I hurt when anyone is mistreated horribly and I get excited when someone wins after working hard as hard as those students did. I think I’m just a normal human being.” She related differently to me after that…in a more positive way. But I must say, I was quite surprised at her response to the movie I watched. It was such a small thing…to me. (By the way, it is an awesome story!)
Since retiring, it has been difficult to find that kind of setting I had at work where I related to so many kinds of people…both those I worked with, the families of patients and the patients themselves! Each one was so unique.
I am enjoying a small group I have been in recently
But recently, I have been in a very small group that is somewhat cross cultural for me. Each of us is very different…very different. I am learning to appreciate things about the others that I wouldn’t normally appreciate…or haven’t had to in a long time. It has made me stop to think about my relationships with people. In Jamaica, I did learn to relate to so many kinds of people. The same was true in Miami, FL. We loved the cross-cultural nature of our life there. It made life so interesting. Then we moved to East Texas. It was a huge adjustment of quite a different sort. We were adjusting to people that were different from us, but in a totally different direction.
As I moved different places, I learned to do it all along the way. Finding ways to appreciate people I wouldn’t normally seek out has been a good discipline. It came by inches. But as I developed those muscles and listened more and more, I learned more about the Gospel.
FAs I moved different places, I learned to find ways to appreciate people I wouldn't normally seek out. It has been a good discipline. It came by inches. As GOD developed those muscles and I learned to listen more, I grew more in the Gospel. Click To Tweet
This passage below reminds me of it as well…and reminds me to step out of my personal comfort zone and make friends with those who have different perspectives from mine. It may be that the person who is neediest is NOT them, but me!
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit,
but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and
bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
Philippians 2:3-9 ESV
Call to action: Where do you need to humble yourself? Ask GOD to point to one specific area. Do you need to listen more than talk in discussions? Do you need to mix with a wider variety of people? How can you live like Jesus did in this Philippians passage as He left the place where He had privileges, but refused to grasp them and came to earth. Think of where you work, how you interact with people who aren’t Christians, are different racially from you, different culturally from you or different socio-economically from you? Do you ever sound patronizing? As GOD to make you aware of what you are like with those who are different. We are all made in GOD’s image. None of us is better than/worse than when we stand before GOD.