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Please, be aware, this not another political speech. As if you needed one more.
You hear it and see it everywhere. Campaign season is gearing up to start. “What America needs is…” and then the litany starts…
- higher wages
- better health care
- more jobs
- stronger military
- better and more affordable housing
And the list goes on and on.
Do you become weary with the political talk?
No doubt, all these things are needed and they are important. I am not questioning that. But is that the greatest need in America?
Maybe it is my vantage point of the American culture, or the set of lenses by which I view or culture, coloring my perception.
I see families that need higher wages, lots of them. I see the struggle of the unemployed, lots of them, too.
My wife and I have been impacted greatly by the mess of our health care system.
I am a flag waving veteran that still gets tears in his eyes and a tight throat when I sing the national anthem (no apologies for that), so I definitely believe we must have a strong military.
While these things are critically important, that is not what slaps me in the face every day.
Two telephone calls were received this week from teenage girls in our youth ministry suffering abuse and domestic violence.
I had two separate telephone calls about two other girls that attempted suicide.
Every week there are couples calling for help because their marriage is blowing apart from their domestic partner cheating on them, beating on them verbally or physically, or an addictive life style.
There is drama, continual domestic drama.
We are privileged to live in a community where crime has declined every year for the last several years. However, in the last few months we have seen an increase in violent crime with the use of a firearm.
We are only a microcosm of the nation.
You would have to be living in a vacuum somewhere to not see the frightening increase in violent crime
The media is emphasizing “blue on black” violence. A careful and a deeper look will reveal the greater problem is color on color; black on black, Hispanic on Hispanic, white on white.
That is not a denial of the presence of racial violence.
The sad truth is that bigotry is still very much among us. The human heart still demeans those of another color. There are those in the white community that do not honor and value those of color.
There are large numbers of blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics who demand the white man must make restitution for the injustices of taking their land, making their great grandparents slaves, and the current generation not treating them as equals.
All of this shouts the greatest need in America is reconciliation; reconciliation in our families; reconciliation in our communities; and reconciliation between races.
The gateway to this kind of healing is reconciliation with God.
The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to a brother who pastored a church in his home. The entire letter was about reconciliation.
A slave had run away from this brother and possibly stolen from him.
He had come to salvation under the Apostle’s ministry and was being discipled by Paul and Timothy. The man’s life had been dramatically transformed and he was of great value to the ministry.
The Apostle Paul was sending him back to the man who had been his slave master with the accompanying letter urging reconciliation.
The principles found in the Epistle to Philemon are greatly needed in the America today.
It must start with reconciliation to God, just as it did for Onesimus and Philemon (vs. 5, 10).A heart that is not reconciled to God is a heart controlled by the power of sin.
Counseling, self-help books, positive thinking, and self-actualization do not have the power to change a sinful heart from bigotry, anger, bitterness and selfishness.
The only power that can transform a heart is true repentance to God and the blood of Jesus Christ purging the conscience from dead works to serve the Living God.
A transformed heart makes the person a new creation.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation old things have passed away and behold all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
That person must know who they are “in Christ” and begin taking on that new identity and living out of that new identity.
Onesimus was no longer a slave.
He had to learn how to live as a man “seated with Christ in Heavenly places…” and blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places.”
He could not afford to hold bitterness and unforgiveness against those who had enslaved him but “forgive them as God for Christ’s sake had forgiven him.”
Philemon was a “new creation” and no longer a slave master.
He had to see Onesimus with the eyes of Christ, “there is neither slave nor free.” He must learn to live by the new commandment of Christ “as I have loved you, that you love one another.”
When we truly see our new identity with the worth, value, and honor that Christ gives to us and we see our fellowman through the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will have the liberty of heart to reconcile with those we once hated, those who mistreated us, and those we saw as less and unworthy of our love.
The power of reconciliation cannot be measured.
- It has the power to heal families ensconced in drama.
- It has the power to deliver communities from domestic violence and gang wars.
- It has the power to bring white, black and brown arm in arm with genuine love, mercy and grace for one another.
No political party can do this.
Only those men and women washed in the blood of the Lamb, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and willing to be the messenger carrying a letter from God to the very one who used to be their enemy.
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