I have been watching and listening to news, to Facebook, and to people interacting with each other today. And after seeing how we, as a county and we as individuals are handling an election, specifically assuming the worse of each other, slandering each other, debasing and insulting each other, treating each other like if you don’t agree with me then you have no value and worth, pouting or gloating, or whatever other 8th commandment, 5th commandment, and 1st commandment sins you can think of, rather than treating each other as one for whom our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, has suffered bled and died, all I have to say is this: the division in this country starts not with Democrats and Republicans, ethnicities, genders, ideologies or age groups. The problems starts with you. It starts with me. Individual people. Prideful, arrogant, idolatrous sinners. You want change? You want to break down the divisions in this county? Let us start with ourselves. Let us take a good hard, long look in the mirror and ask ourselves the tough questions:
• Have I treated my neighbor’s body and life as gifts of God to him?
• Have I injured my neighbor with violent actions, spoken debasing and insulting words, using foul or dirty words to describe my neighbor, or hurt him with thoughts of anger, contempt, and hatred?
• Have I gossiped, delighted to tell others about the faults or mistakes of another, excusing myself especially by saying “I only spoke the truth”.
• Have I got to others to make peace if I wronged them or they me, or to correct them if I knew of their wrong?
• Have I slanted stories to my benefit or deceived others by withholding some evidence of the story?
• Have I found ways gladly and willingly to explain, in the best possible way, those words or actions of others that hurt me?
• Have I defended my neighbor when things said about my neighbor have made others think badly about him or her?
• Have I learned to hear with the weakness and faults of there, covering their shame?
• Have I tried, by claims of various rights, to make the property of others my own, saying they do not really deserve it and I do?
• Have I lived in grudging discontent with whatever God has given me, restless about what I do not have and neglectful of thankful generosity with what I do have?
• Have I fostered discontent with friends, family, fellow employees, citizens, and leaders by failing to support them, encourage them, and pray for them?
• Have I helped those who carry responsibilities in governing? Do I pray for parents, leaders of the nations (current and newly elected) schools and churches? Do I grumble about work that is given to me to do?
What I say to myself, I say to you. Repent! There is only one way to break down the dividing wall of hostility that is sin (hatred, anger, jealous, racism, slander, gossip, pride, arrogance, and foolishness); his name is Jesus Christ, Son of God. (” But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”) – Ephesians 2:13-16
To that end, I encourage all of us to pray:
“Heavenly Father, God of all concord, it is Your gracious will that Your children on earth live together in harmony and peace. Defeat the plans of all those who would stir up violence and strife, give wisdom to those who are governing, lead all who have hurt or harmed their neighbors in their body, those who have assumed the worst of each other, as well as those who have destroyed other’s reputations, possessions and income, to repentance and faith. Strengthen your governing officials: police, mayors, council, and those who make, judge, and administer our laws that they may work to promote and maintain peace and justice. Rid our land of all conflict and fear between various groups, and help us all to live together as Your beloved children. To that end, teach us to examine our hearts that we may recognize our own inclination toward envy, malice, hatred, and enmity. Help us, by Your Word and Spirit, to search our hearts and to root out the evil that would lead to strife, hatred, and discord, so that in our lives we may be at peace with all people. Fill us with zeal for the work of Your Church and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which alone can bring that peace which is beyond all understanding; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”