I am saddened. No, that isn’t quite the right word…I am grieved. I am grieved that we have taught folks that multiple wrongs somehow make a right. I’m grieved that we have lost the ability to be civil to one another. I’m grieved that we no longer seem to care about how our actions will impact others (both immediately and in the future). I’m grieved that we have failed to instill a sense of respect for property. I am more grieved that we have failed to instill respect for life (all lives matter: black lives, blue lives, unborn lives…all lives matter).
My heart breaks for the family of George Floyd, but the riots and violence that have erupted in his memory do not honor him. I read the statement from his son, Quincy, praising the peaceful protests and urging protesters around the country to avoid violence.
There are so many thoughts that are rushing through my mind. So many unanswered questions – questions that I don’t even know who might be able to answer.
How is rioting and looting going to help?
How is violence going to help?
How is destruction of property a valid way to demonstrate your unhappiness?
And, how is it that so many folks that are being arrested aren’t even from there? It sure seems to me that there is much more at work than meets the eye.
Well, I don’t know the answer to the questions…but I do know this: God still sits upon the throne of heaven.
I am not sure that we fully understand what it means that God sits on the throne, ’cause I don’t think we fully understand sovereignty. But I don’t have to fully understand something in order to believe it is true – I mean, I don’t fully understand how electricity works, but I sure believe in it. I can see the mechanisms that create electricity, I can even do some small repairs to electrical things…but I do not understand everything there is to know about electricity.
Same thing with God. I won’t even pretend to fully understand him (even the Psalmist reminds us that God’s ways are too lofty for humans to fully grasp), but I believe in him all the same! Additionally, I trust that he will work even in the midst of the chaos around us – if we will allow him to do so.
Let me try to explain something about sovereignty in a way that we might be able to understand…the king of a country/nation is sovereign. We could even capitalize the word and say that the king is the Sovereign. By that title, we would mean that the king has the final say about what is and what is not allowed, what punishments or rewards might be passed out, etc. However, we would not hold the king responsible for the bad behavior of the people in his kingdom. Not once do I remember a history teacher saying that King Edward, or King George, or King Henry, or King Whomever was responsible for the folks in their kingdoms that stole property, cheated customers, or killed without regard for human life. Not once.
But how many folks do we know in life that say something like, “How can a sovereign God allow bad things to happen?” How did bad things happen in any monarchy? Here’s the truth, the king isn’t responsible for the actions and activities of evil people. And God is not responsible for the actions of evil people either.
What we are watching unfold in our country right now could be summed up very neatly by a list of things that Paul called, the acts of the sinful nature. Remember that list? Listen to Galatians 5:19-21:
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (New Living Translation, emphasis mine).
Let me continue with verses 22-25:
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (again, the NLT).
Folks, the world is going to hell in a hand-basket partially because the church has failed to teach and disciple folks plainly. There is no room for reinterpreting what Scripture says when what it says in plain – and plain in either the original languages or in a translated one!!
The world is going to hell because it does not want to follow God or his commands. If we are not reliving a time when “all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25, NLT), then I don’t know what time we are living in.
God sits on the throne! Jesus now sits at his right hand! The Holy Spirit has been sent to be our guide, teacher, comforter, and advocate. But many (sadly, many even in the church) do not want to follow God’s laws or commands. Exactly because he is sovereign, he allows us to make choices about how we will live our lives…
There is evil in the world, and it is currently on display for all to see.
But there is also good in this world, and it will be on display if we look for it and make sure that our actions and attitudes contribute to it.
Let me try to answer my original question, “why can’t we all just get along?” Because too many of us are not willing to admit if/when we make mistakes? Too many of us are too arrogant to confess that someone else might be right. Too many of us are too selfish to leave room for getting along. Too many of us think far too highly of ourselves than we ought.
The truth is, we could all get along…if we were willing to allow the Spirit to do his work in us.