ISSUES OF FAITH: Find a way to come together in love

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:14-17 NIV).

I HAVE NEVER seen a people so divided as now.

I have never seen a people so volatile, angry and hurting as now.

We pick up our phones and read the morning headlines, and we hear of more tragedy, death, division and hatred bubbling over into the lives all people. Not just in the U.S. but the whole world.

You would think that emerging slowly into the next phases of reopening after the pandemic would fill the mouths and minds of people with joy, but instead it is opening a gateway of mental illness, frustration and abuse to flow into our communities at an overwhelming rate.

Why? Because Satan is truly using this moment to drive a wedge in the hearts of all people to destroy relationships and have us turn on each other in anger.

We used to enjoy our diversity, our varying opinions, our cultures and marvel at the uniqueness of individuals. But now, our vision has been clouded with the sentiment of cancel culture, skepticism and indignation. We now see our differences as threats, reasons to lash out and spew unthinkable messages, even to those we are to love the most in our families.

The world and our enemy loves to see us tear each other down; to think our opinions are the only correct ones and choose our pride over the humility and compassion towards others.

That is why I truly hope that this season of Easter you and I truly see the blessing that comes from the cross and tomb of Christ. Jesus, standing before Pilate made the statement that He came into the world to testify to the truth, to which Pilate retorted, “What is truth?” (John 18:37-38).

Of course, we have heard many times the words of Christ as He describes Himself as the “way, truth, and life (John 14:6).

This truth that Jesus came to reveal, teach and live out is not a matter of a world view, a philosophy or a state of mind. It is the revealed truth of all mankind, what lies in our hearts, what we deserve and, in spite of it all, the will of God for each of us regardless of the temporal things that divide us. The truth of God, the events of Golgotha and the borrowed tomb reveal the truth of what unites us all, and the only thing that matters which should inform our lives. It is the reality that we all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

We are powerless in the face of death. Our mouths are open graves, and left on our own, we invent ways to hurt, shame and exploit others and God (Romans 3:9-18).

No one is righteous before God, and all of this pertains to me and you as well.

I was recently reading an article that explored the motivation behind the horrors of history as humanity acted in the most inhumane ways towards itself.

The article blamed a number of things, but at the end of the day, the cause is what lives in our hearts.

We are dead in our trespasses, and we need intervention (Ephesians 2:1).

That intervention comes in the way of the cross of Christ. When we were powerless against our own brokenness, Christ died for us. In the darkness of Good Friday, He shows us the one thing that unites us: it is our sin, the death we cannot fight off and oppression of Satan that tears at our communities. In that darkness, the glory of God shines bright as it shows the magnitude of His love for all. That He would pay the price of our guilt, win us forgiveness and freedom from this world’s oppression and the assaults of Satan. More than that, with that empty tomb on Easter morning, He would break the shackles of death and supply eternal life!

These events remind us that where you fall on the political spectrum does not matter.

These events teach us that your printout from “23 and Me” does not capture the entirety of who you are, nor define you.

It isn’t the color of your skin, how much money you make, where you call home, what your past holds, what age your drivers license says you are or even your favorite pizza that gives rise to your identity. We regard no longer any one according the flesh, according to a worldly point of view (2 Corinthians 5:18).

You are a new creation. Your neighbor, who voted differently than you, is also a new creation. Your son, who continues to struggle with addiction, is a new creation. Five years old or 105 years old, and all in between, are new creations. Asian Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, German, French and those of us who draw upon fractions of all races in our genetic makeup, are all new creations.

We are one in Christ Jesus. Male or female. We were once lost, without a God to pray to, but with Christ, we are heirs to the kingdom of truth.

We had no hope, but now we share in an eternal hope found in the rays of eternal life that shine forth from an empty grave. We have an identity that remains forever: we are children of God, loved by Him and never forsaken by Him.

It is with a heavy heart that I tell you, this is my last article for the Peninsula Daily News.

I have taken a call to serve a congregation in Minnesota and will be leaving to serve the community there shortly.

But with my last article, I could find nothing better to encourage us all but what unites us.

Please have this unity inform how you see your estranged family member, the co-worker that gets on your last nerve or your child that continues to fall into mistake after mistake.

Do not allow you heart to be redirected by the division and anger of the world but informed solely by the blood of the cross and glory of the resurrection.

We will never come together focusing on what divides us but only by rejoicing in the truth that we are united by the love of God.

Have this love compel us! Nothing else matters!

To Him be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

_________

Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Dr. Patrick Lovejoy is pastor at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. He can be contacted at 360-457-4122 or [email protected]

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