I have not written anything as a blog for some time now. I have been thinking about what to write. There are so many topics that are being bantered around, most of them emotionally charged, politically biased, or filled with theories either true or grossly false. Many of the items are published to stir conflict.
We are faced with so many issues that it is staggering, confusing sometimes, and mostly, we wonder when this nightmare is going to end.
First, I would like to commend the many pastors who have done a great job of caring for their people during this mandated shut down of churches. Everyone has learned quickly to use social media, Youtube, and the many platforms for communication. Our pastors have even gone to the length of pulling into people’s driveways and converse from their vehicles to the people standing on their porches. Some have increased their media presence to several times a week. There are reports that viewership has soared so that many are being reached who otherwise never attended. Also, I have been seeing that internationals are checking in so that other countries are being reached too. The kingdom of God is growing in the midst of the challenges. Some of my friends have stated that the giving has stayed fairly steady with folks using online giving or sending their tithes and offerings by mail. All of these efforts are encouraging.
As things slowly have loosened, there are “drive in” type services going on. The saints are hungry for fellowship. People sitting in their cars, or standing outside them, or opening their camp chairs to sit on the lawn or driveway. It is good to see people waving and yelling to one another their greetings. These all speak of the resiliency of the church, even in trying times!
Secondly, just as we start to recover a tiny bit from the pandemic, we are struck once again by the injustices of our culture. Today, every incident seems to be video recorded. These videos bring home the crude violence that is perpetrated at times, which in times past, went unreported, or unseen. Now, the gross violations are seen. In the Minneapolis case we witnessed a murder by police excessive and sustained force.
All I can say is that I have dear friends that are African-American. I have dear friends that are African. I have been to Africa three or four times. I have ministered in African-American churches. I love their worship and spiritual sensitivities. My kids have African-American friends as well. I know from speaking with my friends that they experience things that I have never had to deal with. I have engaged them in some conversations and would like more dialogue to gain more understanding. I have been with them when there has been racism expressed. I have been looked at with judgment for inviting them to dinner in a restaurant. I was shocked and offended by such an attitude. While owning a business, we had African-Americans eating in our dining room. We received a call threatening our business for allowing them to eat in our dining room. We told them that we did not need their business ever again and that the folks were welcome in our dining room.
However, once more our country is ripped open with a wound that is constantly trying to heal. Great people have been working on it since slavery entered our country. While slavery has been abolished, the remnant attitudes in some remain. I think that deep in every race is a certain pride in their heritages. Cultures are extremely different as I have learned through much travel and ministry. It is when we have no appreciation of others that we run into deep trouble. For instance, Americans can have a certain attitude that does not sell well in the rest of the world. Americans can be arrogant about what we have and expect other cultures to be like ours which is extremely offensive to the people of that country. From the beginning of international travel, I have attempted to adapt to the culture and appreciate the people and their habits. In doing so, I have been accepted by the folks.
Likewise, since we are a “melting pot” or at least, used to be, we have many cultures in our country. First generation immigrants keep their cultures tight and practiced. The second generation is a mix. Even after several generations, we still have practices, habits, ways of seeing things, that reflect heritage. This is true in the Hispanic community, the African community, and any other tradition that lives in the USA. We may not always understand each culture, but we can appreciate them.
Somehow, Jesus is for the whole world, every race, every culture, every single human. He bridges all the cultures, races, and nations. The expression of his love may look different in each nation, but He is there. He is able to reach everyone if they open to Him. Once again, what the world is looking for: justice, equality, fairness, acceptance, is really only found in Christ. If laws could change it; we would be there. It requires a change of heart and only Christ can bring the long lasting heart change that can change a nation.
Actually, I have more questions and only a very few answers. But I am deeply concerned for the sharp divides in our country. The best answer is Jesus. My friend, Pastor Troy Gligora, has a good take on this for the church, for a Christian. I share this link to his comments, less than 8 minutes, but profound.