• Bill Lewis

Conversations to Help Understand

We live in extremely trying times, but there have been many of them before this. Tragedy, sadness, death, plagues, wars, have all been a part of our history, in fact, the history of the world. Peace, tranquility, and harmony seem to last for fleeting moments. We become confused, disheartened, and fearful. But there is hope, faith, perseverance, and new avenues to explore.

Our angst is increased in this time by the sheer volume of opinions expressed, theories promoted, twisted facts, and the explosion of social media. The platforms of social media are a blessing and a curse at the same time. Guarding our minds is a major task and our ultimate responsibility.

On Wednesday of last week we had a very frank, honest, powerful dialogue with our African American pastors at our CCN meeting. I so appreciate them; real men of God. Then this Thursday, Pastor Micah invited Pastor Lonnie to share through question and answer. Pastor Lonnie has an African American congregation. He answered questions and gave great insight to the current situation. He said, as did our brothers at the CCN meeting, that the situation needs conversation and compassion. He shared the following quote:

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. (Italics mine) America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

― Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

I have been listening to a series of lectures on Audible. The series is on American History. The last lecture spoke of the Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards, and George Whitefield. In the speech, as he finished, he said that every trying time in the United States has been met by an evangelical outpouring that has worked to heal the nation. I began to think of that and it is true that there have been great moves of God at times of extreme difficulty in our nation. We have been praying for such a move for our present time.

After our discussions at the CCN meeting, I was challenged in my thinking to begin reading some history of the African American. I ordered a book, “American History in Black and White,” by David Barton. It is eye opening to say the least. In reading it, I realized that there has always been racial tensions, but the country has done great things to bring about equality.

I was encouraged to watch the documentary, “Thirteenth” by my Black Pastor friends. I did. It revealed that while there have been many rights bills passed; there is a political movement constantly trying to circumvent the law and limit the freedoms granted by the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.

Pastor Lonnie spoke well when he said his job was to preach the gospel. The answer lies in the love of God and His son Jesus. The church should steer clear of being political and address the issues of society from the Biblical view. Our job is the kingdom of God. To politicize the gospel can put the church on the wrong side sometimes. Our call should be to preach the teachings of Jesus. On reflection, He continued to address the human issues of the heart and soul while avoiding direct attack against the Romans. His main case of attack was the hypocrisy and political purposes of the Jewish leaders which misled the people and put them in greater bondage.

I do not have answers for the social issues of today, but I know hatred is no answer. The church must lead again in the cause for changing the hearts of men and women with the life changing, heart changing encounters with the Living Christ. As one person is changed, the society changes, one less heart of hatred; one more heart of compassion.

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