Monday, November 14, 2016

It's One Week Later, America

It’s one week later, America.

Some won.  Some lost.  Some can’t stop thinking about it.  Some really couldn’t care less.  Some are angry.  Some are afraid.  Some are rejoicing.  Some are grieving.  Some are holding out hope.   Some are totally hopeless.

But may I say, dear America, that wherever you fall on the spectrum of emotion regarding our presidential election, Donald Trump (or his cabinet selection or his SCOTUS appointments or his policy) isn’t really even the issue.

We are a people who take pride in personal freedom to speak and act how you choose so long as it does not harm anybody or break any laws.  We boast in being self-made in our successes in business and in our personal lives.  We delight in rooting for the underdog (whomever you believe that to be…minorities or the environment, or the Cubs).  We relish in making a difference for the good of the whole. 

What really, truly admirable qualities for a nation to possess!  But, unfortunately, we have become so distracted in taking a stand on the issues facing our nation, that many individuals are completely distracted from the only thing that is actually important.  And now they are sinking, meaning that now we, as a whole, are sinking.  We, the USA, have become deluded into thinking that our political victories will free us spiritually.  And they won’t.  We’ve gotten the cart before the horse here.  No one is denying that there are issues, but before we can deal with our land being healed in so many ways, we first need to address the hearts of the individuals.

[I’m going to be blunt, and please know, my heart isn’t to offend, but to be honest. If the following words sting, then so be it.]

I’m pretty sure every American has a soapbox, some issue that is near and dear to their heart for one reason or another.  Some are rooted in cultural things, some are rooted in flat out, blatant sin, some are rooted in emotion, and some are probably rooted in something else.  These are the hills we choose to die on.  Let’s address a few truths regarding these soapboxes or “hills” and why dying on them isn’t as effective as is hoped for.  (My list here is not exhaustive.)

Being legally allowed to marry someone of the same sex will never truly satisfy your soul.  Delivering your rainbow baby will never truly heal your grief.  Sleeping with some person who is not your spouse will never truly fill your loneliness.  Rioting our cities will never truly refresh your frustration.  Aborting your baby will never truly bring you freedom.  Changing your gender will never truly show you who you are.  Declaring that any hashtagged color of life matters will never truly bring peace.  Voting for the election’s winner will never truly give victory.  Selling network marketing products will never truly bring success.  Attending church will never truly bring acceptance.

Because true soul satisfaction, true healing, true fulfillment, true refreshment, true freedom, true identity and purpose, true peace, true victory, true success, and true acceptance are only ever found in the person of Jesus Christ.  Everything else is a false hope. 

Life is exhaustingly and frustratingly hard.  It feels like there is always one more thing to fix, to handle or deal with.  And as soon as we get one thing done, there’s another waiting right behind it.  We are the proverbial hamsters in a wheel.  But please, remember…we live in a fallen world.  It’s broken, and there will always be something new to fix.  And when we puff up with loud voices and clenched fists and Facebook posts, we scream, and we labor, and we try, and we believe then that through our efforts we will win, but we are only deluding ourselves.  Whether we “win” or “lose,” it really doesn’t even matter; there will be another thing to deal with tomorrow.  Solomon in Ecclesiastes repeatedly talks about how there are so many things in life that seem to matter so much but are really just vanity and striving after wind.  He says in chapter 1, verses 14 and 17, “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. […] And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind.”  There will never be a day on this earth we grasp total success.  There will never be a day we have caught all that we strive to catch, or accomplished all we set out to accomplish because tomorrow will always bring a new desire.  I don’t mean to be a downer.  In fact, my aim is to be an encouragement!

Psalm 33:16-17 say, “The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not delivered by great strength.  A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.”  Oh, can’t we call this for what it is?  We have confused THE issue with the issues.  We have missed the point of this whole life.  And as such, we have missed our purpose for our great nation.  Jesus did not die to make you an American.  Nor did He die to give you a life of ease.  He died to restore your relationship with the Father, which will ultimately be the only thing that accomplishes the root of all the issues because He Himself is the true root.  He Himself is love (1John 4:8), peace (Ephesians 2:14), joy (Galatians 5:22).  Because all of our clamoring, all of our trying, all of our screaming, and all of our clenching to our own personal issue, will never bring us back to the garden, to a place of rest, to a place of restoration with God Himself.  Only Jesus does that.

I don’t know your personal issue.  Maybe you have a bunch.  But you can try to the point of exhaustion (or even failure) and never reach the real root of the goal.  Because like it or not you and I are both a part of this fallen world, an active participating part of the fallenness.  And as such, neither of us can be its savior.  Thankfully, though, Jesus came to do all that we cannot do.  Let’s talk about the real hill to die on.  Calvary.  Jesus already died on that hill.  And when He did, He paid for our sin, for the broken ugliness that we can’t do anything about no matter how hard we try.  And now the only thing you need to do is die to yourself, acknowledging that your efforts fail, but all that Jesus did was successful and that you need Him.

And you know, the thing about our issues is that we often allow them to hold us hostage to serve them.  But Calvary did not hold Jesus hostage.  Three days after His death on the cross where He paid for sin in full, He rose from the dead!  And by raising up, He secured the victory for us, bringing us power to walk in Him, no longer bound to our sin, our brokenness, our exhaustion, but giving us the ability to walk forward according to His mercy and grace.

Worn out?  Jesus says, “’Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Empty?  Jesus says, “’I am the bread of life; he who come to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.’”  (John 6:35)  And, “He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.”  (Psalm 107:9)  And, “He anointed…my cup overflows.”  (Psalm 23:5b)

Defeated?  “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.”  (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Afraid?  “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)  And, “…greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4b)

Lonely?  “A father to the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation.  God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.”  (Psalm 68:5-6)

Worried?  “Cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7)

Look, I don’t know you.  I have no idea who even reads this blog that I sometimes write.  But, because I’m a human, I know you’ve got stuff you’re dealing with.  I just want to say to you, Jesus fixes things.  Maybe you’ve spent for as long as you can remember hating God because so-called Christians are mean and unloving, etc.  Christians are just messed up, flawed people who have been rescued by Jesus.  That in no way means they will act perfectly all the time.  Besides, there are plenty of people who claim to follow Jesus who really don’t.  I’m not asking you to follow after any person, except the person of Jesus Christ.  Fix your eyes on Him alone.  He’s the fixer of all the brokenness.  And then let’s look at laboring together to restore our nation to the healthy place we’re all hoping it can be.

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