People are increasingly concerned with the growing level of anger and discourse in our country. Angry, violent words and seething hostility seem to be the new normal. But does it only seem that way, or is it really happening?
It’s Really Happening
Last week, the nation saw a dramatic escalation in hostile and violent rhetoric that spread across social media like wildfire — of course, as has become the case, it was all related to politics. We saw people raging about a “new civil war,” some of our fellow countrymen said they would “kill” other Americans who did not agree with them. People were whipped into a frenzy and this was accomplished by one man and one political party — I’m sorry if that makes any reader uncomfortable, but it is an absolute fact. How on earth did it come to this, especially since it has now been proven that the event in question, wasn’t at all what he/they made it out to be.
Do Not Conform to This World
Romans 12:2 tells us: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
It could not be plainer: God cautions us to not let this world get the better of us. We are warned that getting drawn into the turmoil and constant upheaval will, without doubt, cause us to lose our way and unless we are very, very careful, we may never truly find our way again. If we covet things, such as wealth and power and if we seek out only pleasures of the flesh, we are doing it all wrong. If we get caught up in the raging sea that is politics, we will become cold and callous, always in a state of agitation — how, if in that state of agitation, can we ever hope to be pleasing to God, if we’re not even listening to Him?
The following Bible passages give us keen insight by warning us and more importantly, guiding us:
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…” – 2 Timothy 3:1-4
“For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.” – Matthew 13:15
“They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” – Ephesians 4:1
Victims of Their Own Neglect
It’s important to note that the very people raging with violent talk and threatening to kill their fellow Americans in a “new civil war,” almost always had “Believer in God,” “Follower of Jesus” in their social media profile and almost all tweeted/posted words such as, “praying that God will save our nation…” or “we need prayers to heal our country.” How on earth can any true Christian believe for one minute, that violent talk, hostile attitudes and unbridled anger can in any way, be pleasing to God? Do they not see that they are quite literally in complete opposition to the will of God — that they are “preaching” hatred and violence, which Christ Himself taught us not to do?
“Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” – Matthew 26:52-54
“Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways…” – Proverbs 3:3
“Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.” – Romans 14:10-13
When any Christian speaks like a Lamb, but acts like a Lion, it is a warning sign that they have neglected their own faith — it tells us that they talk a good game, but deep down, they do not truly believe. If these people truly believed in God and “followed” Jesus, they would not be in the state of dark turmoil they find themselves. Jesus did not come to destroy or condemn, He came to be the Light of the World and to show us that the only path is one of love, compassion, generosity, peace and faith — to follow Jesus is to live as He guided us to live and that means being Disciples.
“If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” – John 12:26
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20
Putting Our Faith in Other Men
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” The political arena is consumed with greed for power and wealth and many politicians have fallen prey to those earthly pursuits. Politics is a raging sea of havoc and if we wade in too deeply, we will be thrashed about and wash up on the shore battered and broken. Far too many politicians are in a war with each other and they’re trying to draft us as their army — the more manufactured crisis and fear they can create, the more likely they are to hold onto their personal power. With 24 x 7 news and social media, they now have the ability to project their fear mongering right into our homes and as a result, we, God’s children, are being used and very much abused. Politicians promise that they can fix everything, which ironically, are the things they’ve actually made us afraid of — they create the problem, then tell us they and only they can fix it. If we let ourselves get caught up in that maelstrom, we are putting out faith in other men and not in God, where it belongs.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” – Matthew 11:28-30
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
Joel Osteen said: “Let God remove what He knows is keeping you from the true you. Unforgiveness is keeping you from shining. Insecurity, compromise, anger are blocking the best you from coming out. Work with God. Be willing to change. We don’t have to be perfect, but we should be growing. We should be better than we were five years ago. We should be kinder, more respectful, have a better attitude. We should be more confident, more secure. We should forgive quicker, overlook offenses easier. We should compromise less, resist the temptation more often. That means we’re letting the chisel chip away things that are hindering our growth. We’re seeing more of the “true you” coming out.”
The true you (us), are people of kindness and love. We are not meant to stress or become agitated over the things of this world. No one is saying we shouldn’t be involved in politics, but if one’s politics are centered around judging and condemning others, there is a choice that must be made: either embrace those politics and be conformed and trapped by this world, or put faith over politics and be what Christ wants us to be — good, caring, calm, fair and loving people. It may sound like a difficult choice, but in truth, if one truly believes in God and “follows Jesus,” its really not a hard choice to make. We may backslide sometimes, but we have it within us to recognize that slip and to return to the path we are all meant to be on — with faith and trust, it can be done.
“And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12