Sunday, August 29, 2021

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Stand Firm

With the constant assault on not only our traditional institutions but also our faith, it is so easy to just give in and give up. Just within a few decades things have changed. We used to just take things for granted when it came to respecting our freedoms and faith. But, over time, things have changed. Those things we considered sacred and immutable have now come under fire. Things that have stood the test of time and have guided our judgement have been pushed to the side and are now viewed as “old fashioned” and “out of date”. 

We are living in uncertain times. Each day we see the very fabric of our society frayed just a little more. Each day we see more and more images of violence and inhumanity in high-definition and color-corrected. We used to wince in horror when we saw those images. Now, we are so desensitized to it all. 

What has happened to the world? Instead of finding common ground, people prefer to concentrate on differences and use them to their advantage. We no longer see ourselves as one nation anymore. We have become tribal and content with the way things have changed. It seems like the days when we came together as one people united in love and compassion for one another has been tossed to the wayside. We seem to prefer hating one another and look for ways to hurt each other.

With all that is going on in the world, it is very easy to just give up and accept things. We tell ourselves that it is just the way things are. We allow that mindset to become the norm for us. Instead of coming together to work on changing things, we accept the change and just shrug our shoulders and hope that things return back to the “good ol’ days”.

James writes, in chapter two of his epistle, “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

The same holds true with the changes in society. We can all hope that things change, but if we don’t work together to make them better, then we aren’t really doing anything. Hoping without action is also useless. We can all hope that things get better and mouth the words, “maybe one day”. Until we are willing to stand up and work to make a change, we are stuck with what we have and no amount of hoping or wishing will change things.

Taking action starts by standing firm together and working together to make a positive change. Will we get it right every time? No. But, at least, we are trying.

The noted American author and humorist, Mark Twain, once wrote, “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”

If we continue to just accept things the way they are and wait until we find that “perfect union”, then we will never do anything. We will sit idly by and watch our society descend into further chaos and calamity.

Is this something you really want? Are we to become Nero and fiddle while Rome burns to the ground and just hope that things will come out better the next time? Or, will we come together and create a better world for ourselves and for our posterity. 

When you read the words of the Constitution of the United States, you realize that the thoughts of these mortal men were ideals to aspire to. Were those men flawed in some way? I would be lying if I were to say, “No.” They all had flaws and were sinners just like each of us, but they came together peacefully and created a document that gave us hope.

Instead of remaining hopeful and working towards that “perfect union”, we stopped concentrating on the words and ideals and began to look closer and closer at the men who wrote that great document. We used their flaws to rip apart not only those lofty ideals but also rip apart our society. We look at each other with fear and trepidation. We used to respect one another and work for the common welfare of all. But, something changed. We began to fear the words and thoughts of others. It became easier to scream at one another or silence the voices of others. Respectful dialogue has been replaced with censorship and threats. We cower and allow this to occur.

But, it has to stop. All of us have to stop and work to continuously improve not only our society but also ourselves. If we don’t change ourselves and how we look at one another, then we are doomed again. We cannot simply say to each other that change starts with the other person. Change must happen to all or it is “dead and useless”.

How does change occur? It starts by not accepting what is happening as status quo. We must all rise up and stand firm together. By doing that, we are united as one nation and one spirit.

In his first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul, in chapter  sixteen, writes, “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.

It is not enough just to stand firm and be courageous and strong. We must also be vigilant. It is so easy for some individuals with their own agendas to sow the seeds of hatred. If those seeds find fertile ground, they will germinate and grow. The vines will run everywhere and begin to choke out all other thoughts. Instead of love, those seeds will create a crop of anger. When we see those seeds being sown, we must stand firm in our faith and remove the vines and the seeds. They must be consigned to the flames and completely eradicated. If we don’t do that, then the seeds of anger will once again find a place to grow.

I say to each of you, “Do the right thing. Stand firm in your faith. Be vigilant and be courageous and strong.”

If we all do this in Christian love and respect for one another, then we overcome the hatred and can most assuredly stand firm in His grace. 

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

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