Posted by: Terry | January 15, 2017

What’s a Christian to do?

1122832_823c3501January the 20th approaches, Inauguration Day 2017, my apprehension and uncertainty grows each day. Our 45th President was elected by a minority of the voters, at the end of the most divisive campaign in my memory, possibly in our history. A sense of angst permeates much of the country, both supporters and detractors of the new President must sense the climate of tension in our country. As one who professes faith and trust in God the Father and his son the Christ I have struggled to clarify how I should come to terms with this new chapter in our country and society.

The overriding priority is that my conduct must be true to the faith that I profess to have, and must bring glory to God. So two questions emerge: How does a person who claims to trust that God is God, and is not surprised by the current state of events, live and act? Does my conduct make God look good?

Thankfully we have records of how Christians have dealt with similar situations of political or social turmoil in the past,  some admirable and some disgraceful; considering both would be instructive for sure. Yet for now I need the simple, and more immediate guide that I find that in the familiar passage of Galatians 5.22, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is not law against such things.”

Regardless of what the politicians or the special interest groups do in the coming months there is no law preventing me, and other Christians, from exhibiting these evidences that we are members of a Kingdom that is not part of the world we are sojourning through.

Where we are exposed to hatred and name calling there is only one response, love. Our example is Christ: he confronted the domination and oppression of Rome with love for those he met. So must we, as we interact with those whom we may disagree with.

“The joy of the Lord is our strength.” When tempted to throw up our hands in despair the Spirit produces joy. Joy in the face of negativity has always been a characteristic of faith, it is an outward expression of an inward condition. My pendulum swings between withdrawal and sarcasm/ cynicism, both of which deny the joy that the Spirit makes available.

In turmoil we are called on to live and demonstrate peace in an un-peaceful world. Jesus said he would give us peace, but not the circumstances-dependent peace of the world, a peace produced by the conviction that God is God, along with the Spirit’s inner strength.

Patience will be difficult and required in these next few months and years. Change will not happen as quickly as I would like, if it happens at all. The urge to give up, or take matters into ones own hands will be tempting. Action when we can is responsible, peaceful protest is patient, violence and anarchy are not. We may be required to wait patiently at times; another demonstration of faith.

Kindness and generosity are rare in our society these days, or at least drowned out by vitriolic interactions on Facebook and the media. As a follower of Christ kindness and generosity demonstrate a different mindset, a different heart. We have been instructed to overcome evil with good.

When tempted to give up, the Sprit reminds us to be faithful, true to what we believe, true to others, true to God, who is faithful in his dealing with us.

Gentleness will stand out at this time when confrontation and conflict are all too prevalent. When  braggadocios proclamations and defenses of opinions are the norm, a gentle word glorifies God and exhibits our faith.

Lastly, i need self-control. The emotions right now are tender, easily enflamed, resulting in the potential for rash actions and rhetoric. God grant me the self-control to think and pray before I act.

I do not know what the near future holds, and am not sure how I fit in to it all, but I do know that one thing is required: to live in alignment with the faith I profess, and bring glory to God, both overwhelming at times. By God’s grace and the Sprits urging my prayer is that we who profess to be Christians will show a bit of God to a world so in need.

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