|Volume 22 Number 3 March 2020||
The United States is feeling the results of over 100 years of rejection of God’s Holy Word. It is not pretty. Crime stats are through the roof. Moral confusion reigns. Respect for authority is at an all-time low. Suicide rates are huge, especially among children. Drug use is out of control. STD’s are epidemic. Broken homes are the norm. Conversation is filled with filth, blasphemy, lies and disrespect. Furthermore, American citizens are losing control of their government and borders.
However, we are the church of Christ. This means Christ is our King—first, last and always. It means our citizenship is secure, whether the US leaders honor the Constitution or not. It means we are unstoppable in our service to the Lord. It also means that the present national situation offers the church here opportunities that we have never seen before!
Think what hatefulness, emptiness and futility are being evidenced in these lost souls, many of them children. To hear a kind word, to be offered an expression of hope, to find out that you will not hurt them but are only there for their good, are gifts many of them would not even dare to dream. Yet, it is what we are all about in Christ.
Jesus offers to all forgiveness, healing, light, freedom, wisdom, unity, righteousness—just what they need! We get to be the ones who share the truth of the love of God with these souls to show them Jesus and the way home—to God’s house. This is indeed the day of good news! Let’s get to it.
[Editor’s Note: The ungodliness discernible in the USA, sadly, is characteristic to some degree in every place man inhabits. Today is the day of good news wherever anyone is acquainted with the Holy Word of God. Yes, “Let’s get to it!” ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]
“I don’t need to apologize. I did nothing wrong!” Not only have I thought these words myself, but I have heard other Christians express these same sentiments. Could not such thoughts lead us to feel justified in waiting for the other person to make the first move? What happens when each person perceives “I’m right,” and so both sides wait on the other to take the first step toward reconciliation? Claiming “I’m innocent!” can place us in a passive mode toward mending broken relationships.
However, a long hard look at the cross lands us firmly on another and better path. God was certainly innocent. We were the ones who broke the relationship by sinning, and, yet, it was God Who took the first step toward healing our relationship. Furthermore, although He was entirely without guilt, Jesus bore the penalty for our sin by suffering a humiliating death upon the cross. God made the first move. God placed greater value upon restoring our relationship with Him than avoiding suffering an injustice, and, so, Jesus died for us.
In a world of court litigation and demanding justice, Paul’s challenge to Christians remains stark, but born out of a Godly concern for relationships. He said, “Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?” (1 Corinthians 6:7 NKJV). To walk in this path requires placing a restored healthy relationship above objects, one’s own pride and perhaps even a just outcome. Jesus knows all about love trumping one’s own rights and justice. We might be the ones who have suffered the wrong, but imitating God requires, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). God’s people, because of who they are and not the worthiness of the other person, are to take the initiative, demonstrating love.
We may have spoken a necessary truth, but how deeply did those words cut? Would there be anything wrong in expressing compassion? “I’m sorry my words hurt you.” Might these simple words be a first step toward healing and even spiritual growth? While we might be innocent in a matter, that does not relieve us from the responsibility of acting in love toward reconciliation. Unfortunately, sometimes the good guy will suffer. God knows all about that.
The above article was written by brother Barry Newton and published in the Forthright Christian magazine. I thought it was such a good article that I wanted to share it with you. “Reconciliation” is defined as “bringing together again in friendship or harmony” and “settlement or adjustment of disagreements, differences, etc.” In other words, to be reconciled is to get rid of all antagonism, animosity and hurt feelings. Paul addressed this very subject. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). Christians have no choice but to live according to what God’s law demands of them. They must do so in a humble manner, and Christians must be forgiving of others, thereby maintaining unity.
Christ taught us how to be longsuffering. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). He died for all mankind, even those who were living in gross sin, all the while denying His divinity. That’s how far His patience (and forgiveness) reached. Christ left “us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree…” (1 Peter 2:21-24). Christ knew all about the other side of the coin of being a loving, forgiving, longsuffering Lord Who was so ill-treated.
Christ paved the way for us to see how we should (and must) be loving, humble and forgiving of one another. No one has ever been so badly abused for living such a good (and perfect) life. We can’t live perfect lives, but we can all make better efforts to be more forgiving and tolerant of each other. Christ dealt with this in His sermon on the mount as He said, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5).
When it comes to Christian unity, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). The answer is, “No,” and the way to reach reconciliation is by knowing and obeying God’s Holy Word.