Certainly, since I was a boy, the social graces and the way we treat one another has deteriorated. I understand that back in the sixties there were race riots and civil rights took front and center stage. Then, of course, there was the war in Vietnam and Agent Orange and all the other things that came out of that unofficial war. We also experienced the Hippie movement and the time of flower children.
But we also had politicians such as President John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, President Lyndon Johnson and a host of others throughout time who were deep believers in civil rights and equality among different people groups. All of them realized that our great country has a history and some of it isn’t pretty.
More recently, we have witnessed more civil disobedience and acts of violence. Whether it is a school shooting or similar heinous event, the country has become more oriented toward radical ways of demonstrating discontent. There used to be a saying that “I may not agree with what you believe, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I hardly think that is still the case. People believe that if they disagree with a policy, then there is a violent way to get it changed.
That brings us to the latest events in Charlottesville with the statue of General Lee being removed. Suddenly, after more than 150 years of acknowledging the Civil War, the issue of slavery and removing statues seems to be in vogue. While we may not, and should not, agree with slavery, that horrible part of our history is nonetheless real – it happened. And we can learn from that. Colonial Williamsburg has a wonderful slogan – they exist so that “the future may learn from the past…” Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?
So where does the madness stop? The Rev. Dr. King was a beacon of hope for the civil rights movement. There are statues of him, and streets named after him, throughout the country. Yet, according to most reports, he was against homosexuality and gay marriage. Does that mean that we should remove all the statues of him because they may be offensive to some people? Or do we respect his belief system even if we don’t agree with it?
We now hear about Black Lives Matter but I have yet to hear about any group called White Lives Matter. And a huge number of people seem opposed to the idea that Blue Lives Matter. How sad… Police and firefighters are being ambushed and killed – I can’t help but think that we are beginning to see the collapse of the American way. And it’s not just because President Trump got elected. I think folks just couldn’t believe that actually happened and are now so outraged that they can hardly see straight. And what about Whoopi Goldberg and all the others who were going to move to Canada if he was elected? Why are they still here?
This sort of public demonstration of hatred is one of the hallmarks of countries and empires that collapse. It is not some outside force that overpowers an empire; it starts to disintegrate from within – from the inside out. I fear we are headed that direction.
And the only way that things will get better is if we individually change from the inside out. Jesus was quite clear about this. We can’t force others to our way of thinking. It must be a self induced act of submission. Like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, our transformation must be a metamorphosis – change from the inside out.
And let’s face it – God is the only one big enough to solve the problems of the world – through the auspices of the local church. The verse for this evening is from the book of 1 John, one of the great books that has to do with truth that was written by the apostle John. He tells us, in 1 John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
My encouragement tonight is that as believers the spirit of God is already in us and Christ does not want us to ignore it. My prayer is that we will listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit and let Him guide our steps to reconciliation and understanding. For those who do not believe, I pray that somehow, through the power of God, they will be reached and this madness will end. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…