Sunday, May 23, 2021

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - What Are We Doing to Each Other

Earlier this week, I was reading some of the statistics regarding violence. Shootings, beatings, assaults, robberies and other crimes are up in many of the metropolitan areas. It seems like society has just become completely unhinged. Instead of having civil debates, we scream at one another. Instead of coming together to resolve issues, we distance ourselves from one another. Horrible words are hurled back and forth at each other. In time, words turn into bricks and bottles. It seems that we have become fractions that are content with separation rather than coming together for the good of all.

Commenters and news reporters, as well as social scientists and experts, push forward ideas. Each idea is different from the others. Some say that we should separate ourselves into tribes while others are content with allowing things to play out. When asked for solutions, each pushes a book that he or she has written. When you read the book, they really don’t have a solution for all of the violence and hateful rhetoric that is spewed, or better put, vomited out.

What has happened to the world I once knew as a boy growing up in a small Texas town? I remember when you didn’t have to lock your doors and neighbors were always there to help. The men of the community met at a local drug store for coffee to talk about what was going on around the town. It was a simpler time. The big event of every week was when the town newspaper went on sale. People would sit patiently around the county courthouse and wait for the newspaper to go on sale. I remember running up and getting a copy for my Dad. The newspapers were put on the counter and there was a simple cardboard box there for people to drop their money into. There were no cash registers or a clerk to take the money. It was just a simple cardboard box and the honor system.

After picking up the newspaper, I would run back to my Dad and he would put on his reading glasses with the others and start skimming through the paper. When there was something that caught the eye of someone, that person would read the article out loud to the others. I guess you could say it was a “Norman Rockwell” moment. 

There was hardly any crime in my town. It could be said that it resembled “Mayberry”. Do you remember the old television show, “The Andy Griffith Show”? Andy was a sheriff of a sleepy little town that was no more than a bump in the road, but it was special to all those who lived there. The great thing about small towns like Mayberry were the people. In times of crisis or celebration, they all came together to lend a shoulder or a hand when needed.

We are all told that things change over time, but I hope that my little hometown hasn’t changed that much and that the neighbors there still take care of one another and come to the aid of each other. In short, they still love one another.

John, in chapter four of his first epistle, writes, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

We should love one another no matter what our reason is. For Christians, loving one another without condition is how we demonstrate God’s love for the world to see. If we are children of God, we must love one another. John ends this thought with one very important item, “God is love”. 

God sent His one and only son to die for our sins and show us in the most profound way possible how much He truly loves us. He gave His son as our once and final sacrifice for our sins. Tell me that isn’t love. Could any parent offer up his or her child as a sacrifice for each individual’s sins? I seriously doubt that any parent would do that.

For those who aren’t Christians, I say that loving one another is the best way possible to embrace each other and start working towards resolving issues. It doesn’t matter what race you are, gender or anything else. We can love one another and work together for the betterment of our species. Why is it so hard for us to do that? We allow our differences to cloud our rational thoughts. Our differences make us unique and special and should not be the basis for hatred or suspicion.

I guess it is so much easier to hate than it is to love. I guess it takes a lot more energy to love than it does to hate. When you think about it, it is certainly true. If I hate a person or a group of people, it means that I don’t want to do anything for them or show any level of concern for their welfare. Hate is cheaper and easier. We don’t have to invest any time or effort in helping another. All we have to do is point to a difference and our involvement ends right there. 

But, when we do take the effort to reach out to someone and get to learn about them as neighbors and friends, then things change for the better. We can live in harmony and work together for the good of all. Is Mayberry or my small Texas town even a possibility anymore? Are we too far gone?

In chapter three of his first epistle, John writes, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

If we truly love one another, we must demonstrate it daily. We cannot simply say that we care or love others and then pass them by as if they don't exist. Turning a blind eye to anyone in need is completely unacceptable whether you are a Christian or a human being. As a race, we have the greatest capacity to love one another and also the same capacity to hate one another.

I implore everyone to put aside hate and embrace love. Take the first steps in showing compassion and understanding by seeing one another as fellow human beings. When we start loving and understanding one another, we will see things change for the good. But, it takes the first step. We must stop using violent rhetoric to spark riots and more hatred. We must work to understand the needs of others and work together to live in peace and tranquility.

If you ask any individual if they want hatred or love, he or she will always say the same thing, love. We don’t have to live in a world of hate and loathing. It starts by refusing to listen and follow the words of violence and hatred. It starts with us living lives dedicated to one another in love.

Paul, in chapter three of his letter to the Galatians, writes, “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Let us, as Christians, live and love as one in Christ Jesus and not follow the ways of the world. Let us live as lights that beam the love of the Father into a world of darkness. Show the world that love really does and can exist by showing that love for one another daily. When we do those things, we can and will stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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