I sat in Mass Sunday praying for Christian unity as Catholics have done this week for at least 100 years. The irony that this week, THIS week, we dedicate to prayer for unity struck me as I sang one of my favorite, old hymns, They Will Know We Are Christians.
This weekend Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America, and this weekend women marched on Washington DC and in cities all over the world in opposition to Trump. While opposing parties were ideologically far apart, too often their dominating messages were indistinguishable, filled with accusations, vulgarity, and ridicule.
United in Ugliness. United in Sin.
Both groups, in varying degrees, turned their backs on love and unity preferring instead to inflame and degrade. In varying degrees both engaged in six of the seven deadly sins this weekend alone as they chose to respond to what should have been the world’s best example of a peaceful turnover of power with lust, greed, gluttony, envy, anger, and pride. Both groups ignored that peace stretches beyond physical violence and destruction of property to offering peace of mind and honest but respectful disagreement if required.
On the left, looting and rioting were the result of fringe participants unreproached by the majority who engaged in crass vulgarity unlike any the world has seen en masse to date. On the right disbelief and frustration led to finger pointing, name calling, and gloating. Messages both sides needed to get out were lost. Vandalism of American ideals and a betrayal of Christian calls to Love inflicted damage far worse than any insurance can cover.
Matthew 10:28 says,
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
The Christian Call to Love in All Circumstances
Love is a beautiful thing. It is a noun, a verb, and a choice, and Love is what Christians are called to. The old hymns reminds us of that, but Bible passages like 1 Cor 13: 1- 3 show us how vital love is when even in disagreement,
If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
What is more, is other Bible passages, such as James 3, remind us to watch our words carefully.
Power of the Tongue. Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you realize that we will be judged more strictly, for we all fall short in many respects. If anyone does not fall short in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body also. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we also guide their whole bodies.It is the same with ships: even though they are so large and driven by fierce winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot’s inclination wishes.In the same way the tongue is a small member and yet has great pretensions.
Consider how small a fire can set a huge forest ablaze.The tongue is also a fire. It exists among our members as a world of malice, defiling the whole body and setting the entire course of our lives on fire, itself set on fire by Gehenna.For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species,but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who are made in the likeness of God.From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. This need not be so, my brothers.Does a spring gush forth from the same opening both pure and brackish water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, produce olives, or a grapevine figs? Neither can salt water yield fresh.
Americans, Christians, & Love?
It is hard to read these passages and reconcile the behavior of many Americans lately. Democrat women parading in the streets calling for equality while excluding Conservatives and Christians, flaunting agendas that undermine the ability of many to pass beliefs on to their children, mocking views and using language that excludes, cheering the use of the very word they claim to be so offended by when used by white men but not when used by modern idols. Marchers calling for unity but telling pro-life women they could not participate equally, effectively telling a certain group of women they could not have a seat on the feminist bus, that they needed to drink from a different fountain, and that marchers were better, more enlightened than deplorable women
In other arenas Trump supporters finally had their victory. Victories deserve celebrations and joy but more too. In any CYO pledge, children are taught to be “gracious winners.” I wondered where the gracious winners were this weekend? I admit I have little patience or understanding for college cry rooms and therapy sessions for those who experienced loss this election. I don’t understand it. I don’t agree with it, and “our side” wouldn’t have been offered such activities or “safe spaces” had we lost, but that doesn’t lessen our call to Love now.
When Obama won, we felt as the left does now. Our worst fears came true. Abortion was promoted. Babies were murdered. Law enforcement and military were weakened. Good men and women were killed needlessly.
Yet painfully we went on loving despite defeat. Perhaps we went on too quietly for too long. We should have stood up decades ago, but we let little battles slide through our fingertips not realizing how slippery the slope would become or how quickly little battles could pull us from the right path.
Finally the people spoke with their ballots, and a new president was elected. It should signify a new day in America, a return to the Constitution and faith as gracious winners grow in power while humbly reaching out in love to those experiencing loss. Instead, too many called the opposition whiners and cry babies and so on and the worthy messages of Love were lost as were opportunities for conversion.
Unity in Divorce
In this day when it seems nothing unites us, divorce does. The left is divorced from the right. Christian is divorced from Catholic. Jew from Muslim. Gay from straight. Man from woman. Old from young. Black from white. Rich from poor. Husband from wife.
So many divorces from a nation that touts, “United we stand. Divided we fall.”
More than anything else, we have become a nation that is divorced from reality.
Reality says we are called to speak in Truth, and in Love.
As I stood in Church singing They Will Know We Are Christians I thought of how many spewing those deadly sins would consider themselves Christian. I wondered how many would believe they don’t really need religion if they are just good people and how many can degrade one minute and call themselves good the next.
I wondered how Americans would respond if asked how they would know we are Christians?
I also wondered about who “they” refers to. We assume “they” means other human beings, but we also know Jesus Christ is coming again. We know God will not stand to be divorced from His people forever. What if the “they” in the song isn’t other people at all but Christ and His Legions?
How will Christ know you are Christian? How will His Heavenly Hosts know who to gather up and who to leave behind? If He reads your Facebook feed or sees a snapshot of you in a pointy pink hat on the street, will He know you are Christian? Will He find Love?
Jesus came to save all. He came to offer Love and Mercy and forgiveness. He turned the other cheek. How do our reactions compare to His? What makes our cause more righteous than His? How do we have more reason to be angry or retaliate than He? How can we step off the well-trodden paths of vulgarity and gloating to extend a hand, to meet the other side where they are, to listen to their concerns, and to demonstrate love? How are we bringing them to Love rather than bringing ourselves to them?
How will “they” know you are Christian?
I wasn’t planning on posting yet as I am taking time to work on StrahlenGrace.com, but this issue really bothers me. Please pray for unity of all God’s children and for protection of the innocent. Please pray for me too as I will be traveling to DC this Friday to take part in the March for Life in support of the unborn child and other prolife issues. If you are marching too, let me know! Thanks for your prayers and for loving all God’s children better!
Have you subscribed to StrahlenGrace and gotten your free download of Break the Blank Page Block* which goes along with my first post and helps you take the first step yet? I launch Sunday & hope you join me from the beginning!
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