God Shed His Grace on Thee

As much as I wanted a great 4th of July for all of America this year, I know that there are so many people that did not celebrate for one reason or another. Some people were too sick because of COVID-19, some were too broke because of the quarantine, and some were too solemn because, well, the 4th of July was not actually their day of freedom.

244 years ago, our nation declared:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

As Christians, let us see what evil is trying to do with racial divide and COVID-19. As our founding members declared this over our nation 244 years ago, Satan made a plan. This plan was to use this against us by making us realize that in 1776, "all men" really meant white, wealthy men. Our founders, sinful in nature just like we are today, did not realize that one day this declaration would hold us to a standard that our own people would actually fight against. In fact, we fought it so hard that a Civil War erupted over what freedom actually means and who should get to experience it. We see this battle continue through the Civil Rights Movement, the "War on Poverty," the "War on Drugs," as well as actual wars that happened through the Great Depression, freedom marches, the Cold War and the War on Terror. On one hand, we have so much to be thankful for. As I wrote in my Instagram post on Saturday, there is hope in that our nation continues to be one of the fastest progressing countries in the world by listening to the cries of its population.

•In the 1920’s, women couldn’t even vote, now they run governments on every level.

•Black citizens that were sitting at “colored only” lunch counters in the 1960’s paved the way for our nation’s first black president.

•A disease that paralyzed FDR was eradicated less than 40 years after his death.

•My own family lives in a mortgage-free handicap accessible home because our nation saw the treatment of Vietnam and Korean War veterans and said “this is not right.”

We are a nation that is known for figuring things out in one or two generations. But every move required us to look through someone else’s lens. Listen, learn, and make room.

When evil made it's plan against our nation, let us revert back to OUR plan— that ALL people; whether they are black, white, brown, rich, poor, sick, healthy, liberal, conservative, working, unemployed, Democrat, or Republican; are 𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒅 equally by the Lord our God, not 𝒈𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒆𝒅 equality by another sinner. As we go into the second half of this year, I want to challenge the Church to do this work.

The fact is, not everyone believes in God and even the ones that do, aren't sure about the gospel. But those that do know that "all men are created equal" was not our plan, but God's plan. Not only are we equally image bearers of God, but we are equally born into sin. However, the game pieces of the human experience are not equal. People are not born with the same amount of health, wealth, and safety and even if they were, we know that greed would eventually drive people to inequality. We see this in the arguments on the news...

"Why does the government get to take money out of my pockets for xyz?"

"Why does the government not use the money I give them for xyz?"

"Why do people in power abuse their power?"

"Why don't people listen to those in power?"

All very fair questions based on real life experiences. But let us consider what Jesus came to this earth to do.

“My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations” (Mark 11:17)

“Don’t be misled. It will not be as soon as some think. For this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all nations, and after that, the end shall come” (Matthew 24:4-14)

"For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost" Luke 19:10

And let's remember the position we are to take:

For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:19-20

The Passion Translation says it this way:

“But because the Messiah lives in me, I’ve now died to the law’s dominion over me so that I can live for God. My old identity has been co-crucified with Messiah and no longer lives; for the nails of his cross crucified me with him. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me — we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, and dispenses his life into mine! —Galatians 2:19-20

The democracy, voting, movements, petitions, law, and rewriting of the law will never equalize us like the work done on the cross. When we remember this, it actually protects us from adopting the attitudes and prejudices of the groups we're in-- the one's that tell us "if this doesn't happen to me, I shouldn't have to deal with it." Instead, our eyes are open to the fact that the problems of the world don't lie within a political party, skin color, drug, lifestyle, privilege or lack there of, it all lies in sin. Sin that I am full of. Sin that was paid for on the cross by a perfect sacrifice. Sin that can be as small as an eye-roll and as big as a mass murder.

We shouldn't just treat people (and their problems) with respect because it's the American thing to do, we should do it because that's what Jesus did. How many friendships came before the discipleship? Jesus, not only knew the hearts of the people He encountered, but He also knew what they did last night. Yet, he chose to break the law and ask for a drink (John 4:1-40), eat a meal with a sinner (Luke 19:1-10), and heal people that no one else had time for (Luke 8). He even knew Judas would betray him (John 13:18-30), and still chose to wash his feet. Think on this for a second. The Savior that knows our sins chooses us even before himself. I don't even know people's motives half the time but somehow I still find a reason to choose myself even to the extent of believing my sins won't count as much as their's will.

There is one thing we can be sure of, there is no first place or last place with sin. If there was, the thief on the cross at Calvary would not have been invited into heaven after only a few final moments of recognizing who Jesus was. Thus we cannot believe the lie that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness lies with putting another cause, political party, or leader above another. Physics would demonstrate this theory with Newton's third law: "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object." We can't stop a crash by becoming the force that causes it. I know the world's problems seem vast and bigger than anything we can do in our lifetime, but if we look at the life of Jesus, He discipled with the small, unassuming, and ordinary. So, the question is, what is within arms reach of all of us? What are we doing with our friend circles, time, resources, and abilities? Those are the opportunities, and they make a bigger impact than we think. In fact, here are some of my favorite big moments where God used minimal resources:

Genesis 21 God births a nation with one child

Exodus 14:16 Moses parts the sea with a staff

Numbers 22 God gets Balaam's attention by letting his donkey speak (lol!)

1 Samuel 17 David conquers the giant with a sling and a stone

Matthew 14:13-21 Jesus feeds 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and a few fish

John 9 Jesus makes a blind man see with mud

Matthew 27 Jesus uses an old rugged cross to pay my debt!!!

Could it be possible that everything we need to positively change the world around us is already within our reach? Do not underestimate the power of a conversation. It's within these conversations, acts of service, and intercession of prayer that we truly grow into the body of Christ. A politician can pass a bill that he/she doesn't necessarily believe in, but relationship and personal responsibility changes a heart of stone into a heart of flesh for the suffering of fellow humans made in God's image.

As the song says, "America, America, God shed His Grace on Thee." We have certainly been granted much grace in this nation, but grace is cheap when we don't understand the magnitude of our sin. Let us receive grace and let it melt away sin and fear within our own hearts.

Our differences are a test that the Church must pass. If we can't, no one can.

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