A circle in the floor
It's the Democrats. No, the President. Congress. The Supreme Court. They. The economy. A Godless education system. Black Lives Matter. Hollywood. Guns. The Confederate flag. The tobacco lobby. Marijuana. The Republicans. The hot weather. Talking heads. Hobby Lobby. Liberals. The NRA. Media. And, everything else that gives you the hives. That's what wrong with America. Fix that danged wrong and everything will be right again.
Don't we wish. It's just the most recent version of the oldest game in town, the human tendency to blame things or people or institutions for what is wrong with us. And, there's plenty of finger pointing going on right now. Racial tension and lawlessness have exploded onto American streets in waves of violence and rhetoric that have inflamed many of our cities and threatened the citizens of many local neighborhoods. As a minister of the Gospel my evaluation of the entire mess is spiritual in nature. The only solution for such times is Jesus Christ. He told his followers they could nothing without him (see John 15:5). I believe it. That's the only way out.
But, there is still the blame thing. Who will take responsibility for times like these? In conflict negotiation and resolution I've always taught that someone has to assume responsibility for a relationship before conflict can be resolved. When I was at odds with another person I always accepted the responsibility for the relationship because I was usually the elder. It's tough too, taking the lead when you've been wronged or have done nothing to merit the disagreement. But, still, the more spiritually mature person must take that role if restoration and grace and love are to characterize the healing process.
And, that's the deal right now in this troubled culture. Right now the church should be the lead in bridging the chasms of distrust, anger, murderous hatred, racial heat, and other societal tensions. What is more, there's strong biblical and theological reasoning for the church's leadership .
1. The virtues of grace must overlay these human tensions.
Read the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Each is a powerful element in
governing human relationships. How can they exist in these troubled times
unless church people bring them to the situations?
2. Faith is expressed in loving human relationships.
This doesn't mean unbelievers cannot love. Surely they can. But, the love of
Christ in the believing community levels the playing field and teaches us the
value of human life. We're supposed to love others as Christ loved us. What is
more, we're commanded to think more highly of others than ourselves (see
Philippians 2:3). Therefore, we must bring the heart of Christ to these troubled
3. God's judgment of this world begins with the household of God.
Peter wrote this in his first letter, "For it is time for judgment to begin at the
household of God..." (1 Peter 4:17). God's expectation of his people is high.
We must represent him while we are here on this earth.
4. This responsibility is mine and yours.
Get literal for a moment. God lives in believers, that is me and you. So, this
household of God thing is about me. I must take the lead in living out the
precepts of faith with the people entrusted to my stewardship.
5. I will give account to God for this assignment.
Paul wrote it clearly: "So then each of us will give an account of himself to
God" (Romans 14:12). It's a blame game I wish we could shift to others. But,
each of us will give an account.
I love what minister and motivational speaker Eric Thomas said: "Stop the blame game. Stop! Stop looking out the window and look in the mirror". It's a profound truth: what is wrong in this world is on my plate. I've got to stop looking around at all the other causes or troubles and step up and deal with teh part of i that lives in me.
Which brings me to a circle in the floor. English evangelist Gipsy Smith (1860-1947) preached revival messages in England and America for seventy years. He taught how to begin a revival. He said to go into your personal prayer closet, draw a circle in the floor, kneel down in the circle, and ask God to begin a revival in that circle. He wanted God to begin with him.
And, that's where we are right now. My influence is small and so, most likely, is yours. But, if this world is to be changed, it must begin in people like us who ask God to "start right here, inside this circle".
That's a beginning. A circle in the floor.