Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Thought for Thursday 25 June 2015

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and a house divided against a house falls.”  Luke 11:17 NKJV

Watching and reading the continuing controversy of the old Confederate Battle Flag in light of last week’s horrific shooting in Charleston SC, it occurs to me that we are not so much mindful of the eternal Word of The Lord revealed in Christ as we are our own individual agendas and personal demands.  We are also perhaps not so mindful of who we really are – especially as so many insist we are a “Christian nation founded on Christian principles”.

The Stars and Bars represented an ideal that, unfortunately, divided a nation and pushed it to war, brother against brother.  We can insist upon “state’s rights” in the heritage of the Confederacy and the flag that represents it, but we cannot deny that these few states insisted upon their own sovereignty as it pertained to their insisted-upon “right” to buy and sell human beings who had been kidnapped from their homelands, captured and forcibly removed from their own sovereignty.

The Stars and Stripes also represent an ideal, but that ideal has been less than ideal throughout the course of this nation’s history.  Under the Stars and Stripes, slavery was condoned.  Under the Stars and Stripes, the genocide of Native Americans was practiced as a matter of official US government policy.

Yet under the Stars and Stripes came the Emancipation Proclamation.  Under the Stars and Stripes finally came the understanding that “all are [truly] created equal”.  Under the Stars and Stripes, women were recognized as possessing the right to vote.  Under the Stars and Stripes, the Civil Rights Movement opened our eyes – if not our hearts.  Under the Stars and Stripes, the tyranny of Nazi Fascism and Japanese Imperialism was turned back and soundly defeated, surrendering to the ideal of the Stars and Stripes “without condition”.

A house united can do remarkable things, and a nation united in Christ can do miraculous things; but a “kingdom divided against itself” represented only by a piece of cloth but personified by hearts of stone will soon bring “desolation” upon itself.  And the reason Jesus brings this to our attention, I think, is within the reality that while we are individual beings, we are more predominantly communal beings created in the Divine Image.  We have families, we have churches and synagogues, and we live in communities in which the well-being of the whole community depends on our ability and willingness to see to the well-being of others.  If we are only concerned about ourselves and our own rights with no mind or heart toward the rights of others, the “house” (such as it is) cannot help but to fall.

The heritage of a mighty nation as the United States must not be defined strictly by the past, for it can truly be said our past as a nation is not so pretty or noble.  Rather the heritage, whether of Stars and Stripes or Stars and Bars, informs our present and directs our future.  If we are the “Christian nation” we proclaim ourselves to be, we must embrace the Christian elements of the Holy Scripture in which it is written, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with everyone” (Romans 12:18).  We must not focus on “if it is possible” and look for reasons to be hateful or vindictive, however, for our Lord Jesus commanded that we never “return evil for evil”.

“Why do you worry about clothing [or a piece of cloth]? … Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and [all you can possibly need] will be added to you” (Matthew 6:28, 33).  As many have said, “Let the Main Thing be the Main Thing always”.  Not the crisis at hand, but Christ always – the Eternal Word of the Living God!



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