‘Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
Unrest seems to be just about everywhere today. People are stirred up about their particular causes and many go further than necessary to promote them. Others don’t have a cause, but just want to keep the pot boiling about anything and everything. It makes for uncomfortable relationships, and quite often very nasty confrontations.
This is not about Ferguson, Missouri, although right now it is the perfect example of unrest. We are seeing people going head to head, hand to hand, all to force others to their point of view. It’s not just about white policemen and young black people. It’s about anger regarding current situations, about prospects that had once been dreams that no longer seem possible to attain. It is discontent with present circumstances. And it is a lack of wanting to see the other side, to accept that what may be perceived is not always reality.
It is in every city, every neighborhood, in one form or another. It is contagious, flowing from street to street, city to city, family to family. It brings heartache, distrust, and growing discontent as it continues, and eventually will boil over into a seething concoction that will infect and destroy anything good and pure that might still survive in the midst.
So where is the common ground? Where is the discussion? And where is the respect of one another as human beings? Buried, locked away, banished from the forefront of the cause, or the offense. When people are so riled up about situations they perceive to be a hindrance to their own ideas, then the time to listen has passed, and the thoughts of revenge, force, violence begin to form as plausible and favored methods to bring change, to enlarge the voice, and to make the difference desired. Care and concern for one another’s point of view, understanding of right and wrong, is gone. Gone, too, is the polite conversation where ideas and concerns are expressed and heard, where options are reviewed, and plans put into place to effect change that will benefit everyone. Now it seems the only option shared is to force the desired action into existence, and compel everyone who disagrees to bow down, accept, and keep quiet.
Our country was not founded in this manner. Our society until very recently did not operate in this fashion. But we now have government officials who employ these methods for our ‘own good’, so of course it will be duplicated in our neighborhoods. This did not happen overnight. It has been steadily growing for a long time, because we have ignored the signs and have given up our right to hold the discussion.
Christians must take a stand. We cannot change what has been done, we cannot influence the current unrest. But what we can do is set an example, and be prepared to defend it. The tools we need are in our Bibles. They are in our prayers. They are in our God. If we will pray for our land, turn from our evil ways, and follow Him, He will act on our behalf.
To effect change, we must change. We must stop grumbling at the lack of common ground, at the large numbers of people pressing their ways and ideas on the rest of us, and begin our own discussions, bringing outsiders into them subtlety, quietly, kindly. Then change may surprise us as we see polite discussions, appropriate behavior, and human civility, arise in our society once again. God can achieve and reinstate the common ground once again, as a united land.
‘I appeal to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no division among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.’ 1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV)