Generally when I sit down to write anything, I do so with a purpose or topic in mind. I am often surprised by the direction my thoughts take me once I start writing. Sometimes the finished product is often light years away from what I envisioned. By the end of the first sentence, I’ve turned a corner and find myself heading in a direction I hadn’t considered. In so doing, I have the thought that the new direction is a better choice than the one previously considered.
Yesterday morning as I crafted my thoughts related to my morning sermon, I had the same kind of experience. The one thing I know about public speaking is that you’ve only got about thirty-five to sixty seconds to capture a person’s attention. You can lose your audience in less than a minute.
Consequently, it is seldom that my introduction to a sermon begins with my reading Scripture. Because of familiarity with Scripture, some folks immediately craft their own version of the morning message in their head before you complete the reading. Consequently, they subsequently don’t hear a word you have to say.
Yesterday morning as I sat down to write my sermon, a Scripture and a completely different topic than I had envisioned came to mind. The first sentence of my introduction wasn’t anything I crafted. The words were directly off the pages of Scripture and chronicled words directly shared by Jesus. His was a profound statement, but not one many people want to hear. He said this: “ If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand”.
How’s that for setting a course to alienate half the people in your congregation? Actually, the Scripture itself didn’t lose them, but before I finished verbalizing my next couple of sentence, the body language of some wasn’t favorable. Yet, they were still listening. In fact, it seemed as they were hanging on to every word. There was a look of shock on the faces of others. They had no idea where I was going with this message, but they knew it was uncharted territory for me. They, too, were still listening. A few people were smiling and I could tell what they were hearing was music to their ears. They certainly were paying close attention.
I guess from my perspective, “So far so good” came to mind. At least every person in the place was attentively listening. I hadn’t lost them yet, but their attention may have served as an impetus to a lynch mob mentality after the message was over.
A friend once told me if he wanted to go to church, he’d go. He didn’t need my blog to serve that purpose for him. Consequently, I’m taking a risk in sharing the introduction to the message, but the message didn’t come from me, I just had the privilege of writing it down. Consequently, I’m sharing the introduction:
Our world is on fire and man without God will never be able to put out the flames. Less than half – Did you catch that? Less than half of the Americans in our country who voted in November’s Presidential election thought the answer for our future was a strategic change in our political approach.
The majority of those casting votes decried the need for change. They were adamant that change wasn’t needed, that change wasn’t wanted, that change was not necessary and that change wasn’t even remotely appropriate.
Their resounding position was and continues to be that political change will send our country back to the dark ages and the plight of the middle class and poor will become even more down trodden. They also see pending change as the catalyst for forfeiture of what many regard as basic human rights.
The common denominator is that before the election, both sides feared the outcome offered by the other. Actually “terrified” is probably a better word than “feared”. Consequently, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the rift between the two sides hasn’t lessened. If anything it has grown more intense.
Some of you are a little uneasy that I’m bringing this up. After all, I historically don’t get involved in political advocacy of one side over the other. That is not the pastor’s place. Politically, I keep my cards close to my vest.
Rest assured, I’m not going there with this message either. It is not my intent to alienate and anger folks on either side of the political process. I’m simply attempting to highlight what I believe represents the reality of where we are as a nation. I also want to offer a Biblical alternative to our bent on what appears to be self-destruction.
Anecdotally, I maintain that we live in a nation characterized by humpty dumpty like brokenness and all the king’s horses and all the king’s man can’t put humpty dumpty back together again. Long story short – Only God can do that!
Our problems are beyond us. The Presidential election took place in November. Two months later, one side is still crying fowl and questioning the Electoral College process. Their opposition and disdain for not winning the election hasn’t waned. They continue to decry the appropriateness of the Nation’s newly elected leader and predict imminent ruin and disaster. They may be right.
The other side, the winning political party, is thinking the newly elected leader’s inauguration can’t come soon enough. It is almost as though they are holding their breath until this coming Thursday, January 19 when power and control changes hands. Their response is: “Thank God! God has answered our prayers. He has seen the oppression of his people and he has set the captives free.” They, too, may be right.
The lack of civility and the disdain between the two sides continues to escalate. Our world is on fire and man without God will never put out the flames. People with power want to maintain power and control. You see that in every facet of our lives. It is true of our relationships, our work, and our financial resources. We want to be totally in control of our lives.
The Civil War in this country from 1861 – 1865 was anything but civil. Perhaps lack of civility is a defining characteristic or factor of a fallen world. Doesn’t it disturb you somewhat to know that in the 1860s we thought of ourselves as God fearing people with churches on both sides of the Mason Dixon Line that were filled with saints”
My question this morning is closer to home. It has to do with the faith walk of Christians who are zealots on either side of the political process. Christ said: A nation divided against itself can not stand.” My question this morning is two fold:
- “What is our role as peacemakers to promote unity? What can we do?
- How do we best orchestrate God’s will and purposes for our lives and nation?
The name calling, the denigrating comments, the lack of civility and decency has to stop. A nation divided cannot stand. It is a Biblical concept. There are three references in Scripture in which Jesus states that a kingdom divided against itself is laid to waste or a house divided cannot stand.
God has the ability to provide an alternative to conflict and hatred. Wouldn’t it be a refreshing concept to think that Christians on both sides of the political process could make a difference?
All My Best!