What counsel do you have for American Christians during our present crisis?

Continuing the discussion from Judgment and mercy for current protests:

I would like some perspective from our brothers and sisters from other countries.

We in America are suffering what to us is a political and social crisis. People have been committing violence against innocents in the name of racial justice. This was sparked by the recorded murder of a black man by a white police officer. I am sure that many similar things have happened around the world, to an even greater magnitude.

I would like your counsel for American Christians during our political and social crisis, particularly if you have lived through politically unstable or violent times in your country. What can you share from your experience that can help us to live as Christians in a dark moment?

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Thank you, @blbossard, for asking this and continuing this conversation. I personally am struggling a lot with feelings of anger and outrage about the things that are evil being called good and vice versa–just almost completely beside myself. I am a mother of three young children, and I’m scared for them–scared of what they are going to have to face in this world and how in the world I am supposed to teach them through this and prepare them for what I see is inevitably coming. I’ve been watching on Connect and RZIM and haven’t seem much conversation about these things going on at all. I understand that study and much thought and care and sensitivity are needed, but our needs for good counsel and support are urgent right now. Coronavirus seems to still be at the forefront of the conversation, and that is the least of our worries in America right now. So I look forward to hearing what others from outside of America might have to say and counsel in regard to what we are going through.

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Lindsay, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I, too, feel the same. I also sense that American Christians are acting like this is the end of the world, when much worse things have gone on around the world. I liken it to a child who cuts his finger. It bleeds, it hurts, and he cries because he is scared. He runs to his mother and father, who comfort him. As he grows, his parents and older mentors teach him how to handle greater wounds and pain. That is what American Christians need to do right now. That is why I am trying to broaden the conversation. I think–and I hope that I do not touch a nerve too roughly–that American Christians tend to be too proud for their own good.

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I agree with this to an extent and only because I see two extremes, which I’ll bring up in a bit. The other thing is that I have also had an unbeliever reach out to me via messaging in Facebook and ask if I thought Jesus was coming back soon because of everything that is going on and told me that if He is coming back, he isn’t ready and wanted to know what I thought. So…it really isn’t just Christians. Also, I think what sin (our real systemic problem) does is clear in the Bible: It spirals into an ever-worsening condition. While worse things have happened in history (the Holocaust), the momentum and support the calls for disbanding police altogether are, for me, unbelievable. Do they know what takes over when the effective use of police disappears? The fact that we have government officials applauding the carnage domestic terrorists are doing and calling it patriotism is scary. The moral degradation is unfolding in a way and at levels we’ve never really seen before–at least not in my lifetime.

The call for police to be disbanded is accompanied by proposed alternatives such as calling social workers to scenes instead. So instead of holding people responsible for their actions, we are going to turn it around and make them victims—which is exactly what I was taught not to do in my own human services classes. This stems from the erroneous belief that all people are, at their core, good. We see this in many movies lately. Look at movies like “Maleficent,” if you’ve seen it. It’s all about indoctrinating the perspective that the villains were good at their core but because of what someone else did to them, they choose to do bad. We then have sympathy and see them as victims instead of holding them responsible for their choices. This is becoming more and more prevalent.

While I believe some Christians are acting like it’s the end of the world-and I have seen that-I also see the opposite extreme of Christians thinking that if they ignore it, it will all just be okay and go away. There are not many balanced responses, which is what I have been looking for on RZIM and in conversations on Connect. I understand this is sensitive territory, but people need to have somewhere to get good, balanced conversation about it, because otherwise, they (we), just hear all the loud and aggressive noise on social media such as Facebook and Twitter and others.

I also think Christian Americans can be too proud, but I think the biggest problem is being too comfortable. That’s a whole other subject for me :slight_smile:

Thoughts?

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Very thoughtful and observant post, Lindsay! I read it to my wife, who shares our concerns. You asked me for my thoughts, so here they are:

First, that your Facebook friend expressed concern that he is not ready if events mean that Jesus is returning soon shows that God is working behind the scenes. To your friend: why not get ready now?

Second, what you see as “moral degradation” runs deeper than its current manifestations. I believe that you have touched on its source in your final comment:

Recent events have reinforced my belief that American Christians are increasingly weak in faith. We have been embarrassed by political and material riches. We are like the merchant mariners of Psalm 107 who take our blessings for granted. God has brought this storm upon us so that we see his miracles and stop taking our blessings for granted.

My wife pointed me to Psalm 83. This is interesting, because it is one of those passages that we may easily misapply. I am sure that many people have claimed it along with 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 in the names of their earthly countries of citizenship. Our citizenship is in Heaven, though. We need to grasp Heaven’s flag more tightly than we do our country’s, and wave it more vigorously. The seas may roar, and the mountains may fall, but Heaven will stand forever.

I think that I just might have answered my own question…

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Wow, this is a great conversation, and one I’ve been hoping for. I want to know what different perspectives are on what is happening around us in America. I have some thoughts to share, but my perspective is very small so they may not be of any help at all.

Jesus predicted that his disciples will be afraid and panic and then leave him, so his encouragement is good for all uncertain times:

“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
‭‭John‬ ‭16:32-33‬ ‭NIV‬‬

There is so much in the New Testament that addresses how we should think in times like what we are going through.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

What are we to do as Christians when adversity and conflict arises? What about our future and our children’s future? Things are changing so how are we supposed to adapt? We first must put our trust in God.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

All through history the world has been in turmoil. There is much said in way of encouragement in the New Testament because there was to be a great time of trial:

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:6-11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I understand the fears people have, and I agree that we Americans have been very comfortable for a long time, which is why it is time for things to change. When we become too comfortable in the Church and we get a bit lazy and don’t, as a church, pursue knowledge and the truth like we should and end up repeating the same doctrines we’ve always heard, and aren’t trying to understand the questions and plight of the unsaved people around us, things are going to take a nasty turn and we Christians will be shaken from our cozy chairs and left wondering what happened. We need to do what we always should have done and that is to do what Jesus counciled his disciples before sending them out:

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭10:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We need to trust God to provide for us, pay attention to what is going on in the world, learn from each other as we seek to show the love of Christ to our neighbors, and be shrewd and innocent, and to not be afraid because the Holy Spirit will provide strength and wisdom when we ask for it. We must teach our children these things as well, to not be afraid but to live life as Jesus has always wanted us to live life: for Him, showing love to all, and putting our trust in him and asking him to cast away our fears as we also seek to gain wisdom for His glory.

As to the wisdom of how to deal with such matters as we see before us in our country, I love the idea of getting outsiders’ perspectives. Being prayerful and facing this together as a church is so important. Our families need to be strong and walking after the Spirit, ministering to and caring for those around us.

I hope to hear some very different perspectives as I am, like many are I am sure, left not sure what to think of everything that is going on. But that’s the nature of change: it is filled with new and uncertain things. That is why we should continue our lives looking to the face of Jesus whose Spirit will guide us no matter where this craziness takes us. Uncertainty isn’t fun, but it’s not impossible to navigate when we have the Lord on our side. Things are hard, but when we get a better view of the bigger picture, that is that Jesus triumphed over this world, it is encouraging. Thank you Lord for taking us through times like this. May your name be lifted up as this unrest causes those who don’t know you to look and see if you are really there and us Christians to start looking more to you for guidance therefore increasing our faith. :heart::heart::heart:

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Carrie, I find this striking in light of events:

How many times have we heard complaints that our rights are being impinged by prohibitions against mass gatherings? What? Do we mean to say that Jesus cannot be present among us when we are scattered? Is it not possible that God himself ordained the moral dilemmas that forced–yes, forced!–those to whom we entrust our protection to make blind decisions to balance unknown health risks with known economic and social risks? That it is possible that God drove us into our scattered conditions precisely to teach us that our rights to assemble have become idols to us in America? Many around the world long for the right to gather just with one other person, and we American Christians who are called to submit to the authorities as long as they do not directly contradict God’s command complain when the authorities restrict gatherings for possibly good reasons?

Now people are attempting peaceably to assemble in order to protest a deep national sin, and many of us lump them in with a violent minority. “Protect us!” we say. “Keep them dispersed!” White Christians seem to have a hard time filtering the good from the bad. It is almost like God is showing us a visible manifestation in the form of the villains in the crowds of the hidden threat that COVID-19 was (and may still be) to us when we gather. These are some parallels that I am drawing.

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What a great and challenging topic. I’m afraid I’m not from a war-torn or oppressive nation to bring some perspective to our American friends, I’m a (white) Canadian and just as comfortable (if not more so) than those in the US. But I think the current climate goes far beyond the US border - indeed there are demonstrations around the world so it isn’t a US only problem. Certainly the race issues that have existed for at least 2.5 centuries in the US still linger, though no doubt progress has been made, but they exist everywhere. However, I think the issues at hand are far more complex than want to admit and the solutions to them are challenging and time consuming but we want them resolved by the end of the week. I’m going to try to keep my comments focused, but there is a lot swimming around in my head and I won’t promise anything. :wink:

From my perspective, the three main issues right now are the racial tensions from the Floyd killing, the resulting anger, looting and demonstrating from that, all with a backdrop of COVID19. There are those that are very upset at the killing of George Floyd and want justice and reform so these types of incidents don’t occur again. There are those who want justice and reform as a result, those that are angry and are lashing out and there are those who simply want to lash out and cause chaos in an already chaotic time. And there are those who deny that there is still significant racial injustice in the world and in our countries and this drives more anger and more demonstrations.

The voices that arise from this are those that peacefully demonstrate to try and institute change, much like MLK did, those who create chaos through looting and violence for various reasons (there is simply no hope for some of them because they have so little, those that feel the chaos will help scare people into change and those that simply want to create chaos), those that support change but don’t demonstrate for various reasons, those that really don’t believe there is a problem and the Floyd killing was an unfortunate mistake and I’ve even seen those that believe Floyd likely deserved what he got.

The question for us, as Christians, is how do we respond to all this? As @blbossard says very well:

We need discernment desperately. We can’t look at complex issues with a very simplified perspective.
We can’t look at a few hundred looters across the country and say they are the problem and thus deny the real issues of discrimination and shut down all protests. We need to approach the issues, and more importantly, people, with understanding, patience and love. We need to dwell on 1 Corinthians 13. We need to own up to our own perceptions and biases. We need to understand the historical roles the “white” church has played in racial discrimination, whether that is direct discrimination or simply being silent when something needed to be said. And in this current climate, we need to stand up and be counted for what we stand for and not be afraid to speak with love and humility as Jesus would.

I’ll admit that something I’m bothered by that I see in many Christians (some prominent) is the unwavering support of the current president and the silence, denial or outright condoning of his words and deeds and that they will judge other politicians to a much higher standard than the president. My mother and much of her family sit in this camp and it really weighs on me. The thought process seems to be that he is God’s instrument to “shame the wise” and keep Christianity prominent in America so we give him a free pass. Is this president the person you want as the face of Christianity in America? Like it or not, to many he is, whether they are Christians or not Christians. Is him holding a bible in front of a church all we need to support his every word? Or are we just willing to look the other way so there is reduced access to abortion, more conservative judges put on the supreme court and we keep those who we perceive to attack Christianity out of political power?

I believe all these issues tie together and I believe as Christians we need to reflect, pray and dwell on the words of Jesus and be consistent with that in every walk of life. We need to know what we are called to do and follow that calling as best we can, as consistently as we can. He doesn’t need politicians or supreme court justices or even our cooperation to do His work (we better hope and pray we aren’t standing in His way because that will not end well for us). And we need to continuously examine ourselves to ensure our hearts are right before Him. He’s promised us two key things - that in this life there will be troubles and trials and most importantly, that He will overcome.

I guess that is really the point I’m trying to make - do we have the faith to believe that God will overcome? If so, we only need to trust that He will see us through it and our part is to pray and seek His will for us and what He would have us do in these times. Will it be easy? No, and He never said it would be. I’m not sure this is helpful or not, but it is something I think I needed to get off my chest.

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Have you seen Jo Vitale’s Saturday Session talk from yesterday? I just watched it, and it’s really good. And, as a side note, I hear Ravi in the way she words things. But it’s interesting because she brought up a part of the Lord’s prayer: “They kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It’s interesting, because when I finally got a time of quiet in my mind just to be with the Lord after turning the noise of my Facebook off (I deactivated so that I could clear my heart and mind), I thought of the Lord’s prayer. For the first time last Friday, in I don’t know how long, I prayed that prayer, and it brought me a sense of peace I have had before but sort of lost through this whole crisis. I thought of how much those words are needed now—God’s sovereignty and the fact that He is still in control and never going away despite the raging storms around us. He IS that calm eye of the storm we need to stand and abide in if we are to see things from a proper perspective and be what He has called us to be. “Our Father…” In a crisis like this, and with thinking that the faith of American Christians is weak–and we need to be careful about how we think and talk about that so as not to bash it but respond to it, these two words alone seek to remind us of who we are and to Whom we belong. I am in the process of memorizing the book of 1 John, but there is one verse that my heart rejoices over and keeps close as a deeply treasured and precious possession: “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1a). Just as I treasure this part of this verse because it reminds me of not merely the fact that God loves us but HOW He loves us (what manner of love), it reminds me all the more of how much we are treasured by God, that He would call us His children and allow us the great privilege of calling Him Father. That privilege should remind us of everything that comes with it, the inheritance and that this world and its storms are not the end and do not have the final say.

I could write something out for each piece of the Lord’s prayer and what it means to and for us in our present predicament, but that would make for a very long post. I don’t want to make people’s eyes tired, haha. I think it’s important for people to look up the Saturday session from yesterday, too, and to listen to what Jo has to say, especially in regard to God’s kingdom and remembering our purpose here on earth as citizens of that kingdom. So I will bring up the other piece of it that spoke to me the most: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In my previous church, I was invited to speak once a week for four weeks on the Great Awakenings in America to kick off the prayer meetings. Each of these didn’t just happen–they followed on the heels of great change, times of great unrest and uncertainty and struggle with identity. Each one, though having unique differences, had something in common: it brought people back to the cross. It pointed out people’s sinfulness, the hopelessness of the human condition, and the need for a Savior so that even those who considered themselves already Christians repented and rededicated their lives to the Lord (and, of course, a great number of unbelievers came to the Lord, as well). Before we can attempt to respond to what we see happening externally, we need to bring ourselves to the cross in response to what is going on internally. It’s really easy to see the waywardness of others while missing it in ourselves. The cross is our reference point to help us and to help others.

I have some questions I have been asking of myself that might be helpful to others here, as well, as they relate very much to how we are navigating our situation and conversation with people outside of Connect:

How much have I been talking about people and their behavior and how much have I been praying over them?

How well do I balance reading the news (or social media) with reading God’s Word to see how He says to respond?

How much am I responding to the behavior, and how much am I actually responding to people behind the behavior? Which is more important, and how can I make sure I am responding to the right one? Am I responding to the person from a human being’s perspective, or am I responding to that person with the mind of Christ (as someone made in God’s image)?

I could write so much more, but this is pretty long, so I will stop there. As for my Facebook friend who reached out, we had a good conversation. His coming to me was less out of a realization of a need for a Savior and more of an attitude of “This might be true, so I just want to cover my bases.” I did the best I could with it and prayed and handed it over to God.

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Yes indeed, sister! I put in bold lettering the part that I particularly have been sensing/feeling very, very strongly as well.

It’s been extremely strong in my inner man to get away from the outrage of what’s been going on in the United States the last few months and weeks and to really focus on His word. A verse I hadn’t thought of in a very long time just popped into my head the other day. From James 1:20 -

"for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."

It’s been a very real struggle. ha ha Very glad this conversation was brought up here, though.

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Lindsay, my wife and I listened Jo’s talk together, then I listened to it again. It is very wise and pertinent. (The title is “Who Are We in a Troubling World” and can be found at https://www.rzim.org/watch/rzim-global/who-are-we-in-a-troubling-world for the record). We see, we want, and because we see and want, we take. This echos James 1:14-15:

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (ESV)

She also asks some great questions:

  • How is God calling his people to see?
  • What would it look like for us to truly see our culture?
  • Do we spend more time making jokes about other people’s crazy views than we do praying for them?
  • Whose kingdom are we fighting for?
  • Why are we living like those who built their lives upon the sand?
  • (Implied through the Jesus’s question to Simon the Pharisee) Do you see the person? Are you capable of seeing past what this person stands for to see this person for who he or she really is?

There are many other points, the most striking of which is the story of Operation Christmas from Colombia–but I digress. You get the point; this is potent truth potently spoken.

My balance has shifted. My morning devotion and prayer life has greatly expanded in recent months because I have nowhere else to go. I think that if I were to log my time like a Pharisee, I spend more time reading the Bible, praying, listening to good podcasts, or reading a good book with Christian themes than I do talking about other people’s behavior. I am not a Pharisee about this, however; so I could be wrong.

See above. I used to spend hours each day listening to radio talk shows, reading the news, and “dialoguing” with posters. I do not listen to talk shows anymore; I read very little news; and I have cut off all but very rare check-ins at Facebook and I keep up with events on Twitter. RZIM Connect is the only place where I extensively participate in public forums. I drink from the word much more than any other source I think, although again I could be wrong.

I am seeing a lot more of God’s image in my “enemies” now that I am reading the Bible and praying much more.

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Lindsay, I am glad you are more at peace in your mind! I think we all have times where our minds get carried away with worry about something and then God grounds us with some sort of reminder of who is in charge. Thank you Lord for doing that for us!

At the beginning of this year I began another academy course and absolutely didn’t have time for Facebook and so got out of the habit of even checking my newsfeed. Then Covid happened and I thought, I really don’t want to know what’s going on on Facebook right now because you know how crazy it can get when something is going on! So I stayed off and then slowly began to creep back on because my friend me missed seeing my family updates so I post some and check notifications but scroll quickly past anything that looks like opinions about politics and social issues. I spend a lot of time with my gardening groups because they are so upbeat! I just don’t need that other negative stuff in my head. Several years ago I gave up reading news because it would make me so mad sometimes. I told my hubby, who was a commander in the military at the time and quite savvy and discriminating, to just tell me when anything important is happening in the world because I’m done reading and watching any news. The media twists everything and I don’t want to be manipulated that way. All that to say, I get your frustration with social media. It messes with your head to see so much discontent and angry opinions. I have children who need a cheerful mama and I don’t have the mental strength to put up with all of that and not let it bother me. We homeschool all of our kids so there’s enough stress in life. If I want to understand anything that going on I ask my husband and listen to people that I respect for their wisdom and discretion. It’s so hard to know what to think about things sometimes and so we should all definitely proceed cautiously when searching for answers and keep an open mind. I love the list of questions you asked yourself. It is so good to think through what is going on in our own heads. :blush:

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Political & social upheaval are pretty much longstanding universal experiences not matter what country you are from.
What has changed and what is most unsettling at this period for me is the degree to which the support and leading of God has either been abandoned or removed from the equation .
If you think about it this is all happening at time when we are being told through threat of criminal prosecution that the people of God cannot meet in the House of God to worship on Sunday .
Not very long ago I attended a lecture on the very beginning of the civil rights movement in this country
that contained some very old black and white footage of it’s beginnings and I was immediately struck by a couple of things .
Thenight before many of these marches took place the people were all gathered together , Fathers, Mothers, Aunts, Uncles , Relatives, Entire families , not in the street but in God’s House .
Not gathered to hear a politician, but to seek shelter and sustainment in the Word of The Lord , before
what they knew would be a dangerous undertaking .
So you had the entire family seeking God’s guidance in the task they were about to undertake.
There has never been a time when the family unit has been more broken than today . Over 50% of minority children born today will only know 1 parent .
It also occurred as the lecture progressed that the greatest strides,considering where they were coming from occurred at the very beginning . Before the politicians realized an opportunity and hijacked the movement . That is when it virtually stalled and even slid backwards in some respects.
Especially where the strength in family and God was esteemed .
What counsel do I have for God’s People ?
We have to face our problems .
But we do not have to face them alone. We have out eternal High Priest , Whose unceasing intercession for us proclaims to us that our needs and our aspirations are known to God.
" Commit thy way unto the Lord , tust also in Him , and He shall bring it to pass. " ( Psalm 37:5)

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Hi, @gchop. I had deleted my Facebook for quite some time, but the homeschool co-op I am a part of chose to do most of their communicating through a group page on Facebook, and I was missing important things I needed to know (we all volunteer to teach classes every Friday throughout the school year so that our kids can get together and learn with and get to know other kids). That and I have a few friends from Ohio that I miss dearly, and we are better at keeping up on Facebook than via email. Facebook is easier when I don’t have a ton of time because of working with my kiddos.

For me, staying away from the news altogether isn’t the answer, and the noise in my head wasn’t from Facebook alone (which I know I didn’t mention), but there was a deeper need to converse about what has been going on and to study and know how to be a light for Christ and to properly respond. I know all the verses in the New Testament that could apply to anxiety, but it’s like what I brought up in another post of mine to where giving those verses that are so commonly given kind of oversimplifies what I (and probably others) have been going through and misses the different aspects of what it is that is needed. What is going on around us has meaning and deep and profound consequences for us and for how we and our children are living out and will be able to live out our faith in an ever-spiraling world. If I turn it all off, I can’t respond or teach my kids how to respond to such events. Nor can I properly respond to others who are in the thick of it all (those who have had relatives beaten during the riots, those of my close friends who have had painful racial experiences and are crying out for justice, and those in my city who are scared of riots happening here, etc).

As far as being a mom, that is just one of my roles in life(though a highly valuable and important one), and I can’t function as if motherhood is the only existing dimension of my personhood. That really wouldn’t be healthy for me or my kids. I’m personally not concerned about my kids having an always-cheerful mamma. My kids need to see a balanced mom. They need to see me grieve what should grieve us, but they need to see me grieve well. They need to see a mom that doesn’t hide from the world but knows what is going on and cares for people and their experiences in it in a way that is relevant and relational. Otherwise, we teach them how to live in a vacuum or bubble, and that will end up doing more harm than good.

My need is more profound and goes deeper than the surface-level anxiety and noise I experience from reading about events and all the angry comments. I need to talk about these events with other faithful thinking laborers of the Gospel and process them in a healthy way so that I am prepared to minister to not only my kids but to others in the world. There is a season for everything, the Bible says. There is a season for cheerfulness, but there is also a season for grief and sadness and lamenting. We need to learn how to get into the trenches of the human experience without allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed. One of the things I thought of was that even though there were people reaching out to Jesus, he had to get away to spend time with the Father for restoration and refreshing. I think that’s helpful in knowing how to balance most anything with which we are struggling.

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Of course you are absolutely right Lindsay! We each of us have to go about our lives in the way best suited to our families and personalities. That is what it means to be different parts of the body of Christ, and it is the beauty of the scriptures that encourage us to trust in the Lord, as simple as it may seem, because it’s the foundation that is so important. Trust in Him, do not be anxious, lean on Him, and the complexities of life slowly make more sense. Life is definitely not easy, and the issues we are currently dealing with are indeed complex. It will take a lot of faithful prayer and thoughtfulness for the church to be able to make an impact. The Spirit works through us to help us to know best how to deal with life no matter our situation and to know how to relate to those that are hurting and struggling. I am glad you have such a heart for people. I am sure you are a great encouragement. :slight_smile:

You mentioned balance, and that is so important as well. When I spoke of needing to be a happy mama, it is because my significant other needs me to be just that that. Marriages always have the potential for balancing personalities. God gave my husband the wonderful talent of leadership and with that comes much care, and my balancing talent is that of cheerfulness which my husband depends on to keep up moral in our house full of people. He also voluntarily is the buffer between us at home and much care that he has to deal with in the world. And he keeps me well informed so that I know the state of things. And I also like to keep informed by going to places like RZIM to get a good opinion on issues. I am thankful for sources like that. :wink: If I made it seem like everyone should do like I do, that was not my intent, but I only meant to share my experience and how I have dealt with the pressures of my own life. When we each follow the Spirit’s leading we accomplish exactly what we need to, thankfully, because we could never know what is right by our own wisdom.

I share your need for thinking deeply about things. I drive my husband nuts sometimes asking questions when he is really done thinking on a subject. My outlet is to listen to RZIM podcasts and other great pastors when I have no one else who wants to really get into a subject :joy: Connect is such a good resource for discussing things like this!

Thank you Lindsay for sharing your perspective on this topic. :slight_smile:

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Brendan,

I would like to offer some comfort for the present situation and encouragement to be faithful. Then I have some observations.

Habakkuk has some question applicable to our society. (Has. 1:1-4

How long, Lord, must I call for help,

but you do not listen?

Or cry out to you, “Violence!”

but you do not save?

3 Why do you make me look at injustice?

Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?

Destruction and violence are before me;

there is strife, and conflict abounds.

4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,

and justice never prevails.

The wicked hem in the righteous,

so that justice is perverted.

I think the relevance is obvious. The law

God answers him (1:5-13) Be amazed the Babylonians are going to punish you. BUT the Babylonians are more wicked than Judah. So Habakkuk observes and asks, “Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”

God answers in with an illustration that men are like fish in the sea! (1:14-17)

Habakkuk decides he will station himself on the ramparts and look to see the answer, so he will get a perspective and wait.

Tim Keller pointed me to Job 23:8-10. Job is saying basically,’ I don’t see God when I look to the north or the south but God sees me in my suffering. Habakkuk points out the “righteous live by faith” As Christians trusting God means we don’t assume we know best, we don’t have the best answer, we give up our omniscience in the matter. We don’t really know how things should play out.

Just to make this brief I will say: Habakkuk contrasts those who look like they are winning (2:8-19) but be assured, the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.
In the face of the situation we are facing it takes discipline of our spiritual life to respond in faith like Habakkuk, mediating on what we know about God.

Habakkuk then prays and recounts what he knows about God. God tells him the Babylonians will be punished but times are going to be rough 3:17, 18-a terrible famine in a country dependent on agriculture. Habakkuk determines to wait patiently, (3:16b) and “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” So, no matter how the world falls apart, Habakkuk is determined to be joyful in the Lord.

Hudson Taylor says, “When you don’t know what to do, trust the one you know.”

William Barkley says that verse 18 could be translated, “I will spin around in the joy of my God.”

God has made his name great by his deeds. Do we have the courage to pray with Habakkuk, “I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord? Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”

Pause and reflect on what Habakkuk know about God in chapter 3 of Habakkuk. Be encouraged by our relationship with God as those seeking to be faithful.

Observations: in Paradise CA one church held the church service in defiance of the stay at home order. The next week the pastor was diagnosed with the virus. I see our society as screaming for RIGHTS rather than for what is RIGHT!
Our society has stopped calling sin, SIN.
Ravi pointed out that the twentieth century became the bloodiest century in all of history. It followed from the philosophers (Nietzsche in 1900 popularizing ‘God is dead’) and the Darwin and his views. Each of them said that carried forward their view would breed violence. That proved true conflict deaths rose from 1.05% in the seventieth century to 4.38% in the twentieth century.
Our country has attempted to write laws to reflect liberty for all. A noble ambition indeed! But the founding fathers acknowledged it could only work based on Judaeo Christian values of the people.

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Michael, that is very interesting what you learned about the early civil rights movement. We can definitely learn from that. When our first response to what we should do in times like these is to come together as a church and pray we will gain much wisdom on how to proceed to help those in turmoil around us. What is so uncertain is how everyone else who does not follow God’s lead will handle our nation’s woes in an effective way. There can be no easy solutions and change for the better takes some time, but in the meanwhile if the body of Christ stands united in seeking wisdom from our Lord and prays fervently for our country we can be a beacon in our communities for those around us who are fearful of what is going on. God is our strength, may we be the light in a hill that everyone sees and longs for.

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I love how the Bible is filled with examples of trials that God’s people went through (Old testament and New Testament) and how they were helped one way or another when they put their trust in Him. It is meant to be an encouragement for all times, as pastor Tim Keller once mentioned, because the Bible was written for all times. Thank you for sharing your observations. :slight_smile:

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Hi there. i’m from Peru and here the echo of the news and social media input has been massive. Not only for what has happened with George Floyd, but with racism here, which have it’s own characteristics. I would summarise the world reaction as a sense of unfairness and the moral universal of treating every human being a equals. However, these things have become political/ideological and that’s something very annoying. It seem that is aligned with the general sense in the World which tries to achieve justice, love and unity without God, but that’s another issue.
I would suggest the best way to face this is really reflecting on the role of the church in this times. For example, me and my wife have been following a church service in Rochester, NY, and the white pastor quit his message and run a conversation with a black pastor (friend of him), it was good i think, so here is the link to that service (from the minute 23): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFWaPQrJfts
About how I face this, I would say that is the same recipe from the beginning: the love of God.
It has a great significance the declaration of the brother of Geroge Floyd (you can see them in different media like: https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1290086/George-Floyd-brother-USA-protests-riots-Terrence-Donald-trump-police-brutality-black-lives or https://www.foxnews.com/media/george-floyd-brother-philonise-defund-police-calls-dismissed)

I quote: Speaking to ABC News’ Alex Perez, Terrence Floyd spoke about how George would not be comfortable with the violent elements of the protests.
When asked about the violence in some small groups of the protests, he said: “I do feel like it’s overshadowing what’s going on because he was about peace, he was about unity.
“But the things that are transpiring now, they may call it unity but it’s destructive unity.
“That’s not what he was about.”

This shows that not all the protests are the same and not all the arguments are the same as well.

I think the way is to point to the real love of Christ, rather than enter in discussions, as this is a mostly emotional thing these times. There is no point in discussing if there is a systemic racism in the US, but to point to the reality that racism, violence and other bad stuff are rooted in the hearts of the people and won’t be taken out of there by laws or violence, just with the love of God and that’s what we are called to do.
I have followed the development of this issue in the states, in the UK, etc, and there is a strong will to impose their vision of the problem here in Peru, with the same arguments, etc., as a modern colonial thinking imposition (mostly from extreme progressive parties or media), but I’m truing to avoid arguing and connect with a more emotional and spiritual response.

Totally apart, in other parts of the world, like Nigeria, black people killed our fellow black brothers in Christ just because they are Christians (https://twitter.com/pablovv11/status/1269262560534069256/photo/1)
and that’s because these things comes from a heart without God (Mathew 15: 19).

To sum up, it is a very complex issue and we should show empathy, love and avoid arguing, as we remember what Ravi always said: win the soul not the argument.

I hope all of this can help in any way.
Blessings from Peru, Aldo

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To everyone on this thread, thank you for responding. I have been pretty busy so have not had time to respond in detail to everything, but trust me when I say that I have read every post and am processing every word. Please keep posting if you have more to say!

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