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Division, Hatred, Prejudice; There’s only One Solution.

Division, Hatred, Prejudice; There’s only One Solution.

Perhaps there’s never been more division in the U.S. than there is today, except maybe during our Civil War. Just because we’re not settling our differences on the battle field doesn’t mean they’re any less palpable. The anger and resentment is over the top, especially as a bolder version of free speech emerges. Is the U.S. once again at risk of splitting in two?

http://www.history.com

We share this majestic land called the United States, a great gift from our Creator. But we sometimes bicker like spoiled children who aren’t getting their way, and tantrums ensue as a result. Will we ever learn to live with one another, and do our best to work within the confines of our many differences?

http://www.countryliving.com

We must never forget, it’s our vast differences that makes us strong as a nation. And healthy debate amidst those differences is what makes us unique on the world stage. But have we gone to far in our disagreement? Has our healthy dissent somehow morphed into a dangerous form of division? A kind of division perhaps that may do irreparable harm.

Our country is a mixture of multiple religions, ethnicities and thousands of different philosophies about how to live, love, work and go about our lives. So, plenty of reasons to disagree, and remain divided. There is a way however to embrace a higher level of unity, and to thrive as a nation even with our varied points of view. The answer lies within a gift that our Creator gave humanity millennia ago.

Our God is fully aware of the difficult dynamic we find ourselves in, especially in regards to the many junctures at which we disagree. So, he gave humanity a simple but brilliant rule to live by; The Golden Rule.

-The Golden Rule basically states;

–DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU–

To quote a common and nonreligious source, Wikipedia states;

“The idea (of the Golden Rule) dates at least to the early Confusion times (551–479 BC), according to Rushworth Kidder, who identifies that this concept appears prominently in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and “the rest of the world’s major religions”. 143 leaders of the world’s major faiths endorsed the Golden Rule as part of the 1993 “Declaration Toward a Global Ethic”. According to Greg M. Epstein, it is “a concept that essentially no religion misses entirely”, but belief in God is not necessary to endorse it. Simon Blackburn also states that the Golden Rule can be “found in some form in almost every ethical tradition”.”

www.wowamazing.com

Aside from our differences, the Golden Rule serves as a crucial guide as to what’s appropriate in our interactions with others, and what isn’t, regardless of religious or political differences. Knowing that not everyone acknowledges my Judea-Christian principles and beliefs, no one ever complains when I simply apply the Golden Rule. Truthfully, it’s the way everyone wants to be treated, regardless of what one believes.   

Jesus once made an alarming statement about division within a country.

…“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.” Mathew 12:25 NIV

Are we on the brink of ruining our country? If so, will we heed Jesus’ warning?

Applying the Golden Rule will be the single most important aspect of preserving the country that most of us love and appreciate. Just the willingness to treat others with the kindness, grace and dignity that is due us all will go a long way in coalescing fractured relationships on any level, even within politics and religion. But this won’t happen without applying the Golden Rule, just agreeing with it is not enough.

www.wibw.com

It’s important to note however; the Golden Rule does not negate accountability, or turn a blind-eye to criminal behavior. The convicted criminal is still held accountable for their crimes, which is beneficial in the long term for the criminal. By holding the wrong doer accountable for their infractions, the Golden Rule is applied by reiterating that crime doesn’t pay, and that their actions are hateful towards their fellow citizens, and themselves.

The Golden Rule is also applied to the victim of a crime because the criminal is taken out of commission and kept from further harming the innocent. If we’re to maintain a healthy society moving forward, we cannot waiver on our criminal justice system.

A person can reason away the merits of The Golden Rule with some clever semantics and intellectual gymnastics. But when applied, it’s a powerful tool in bringing people together who may see things differently. And for our country to remain intact, this is crucial.

This doesn’t mean we always agree with one another, or pretend to. We must be honest and open as we exercise open debate, and respectful dissent. But it also means we don’t belittle or sacrifice another’s dignity in the process, for we are all made in the image of God, and we all have our blind spots. Because we are one nation, when we tear down others, we are tearing down a part of our nation, and ourselves.

www.blog.net32.com

Applying the Golden Rule to our everyday lives will heal many of our societal wounds. And allow folks who have a difference of opinion to come together and work things out. Or, agree to disagree, and get on with our lives. Sounds a lot better than yelling at each other from the sidelines, and allowing anger and hatred to reign in our streets, and in our homes.

The Golden Rule will secure the foundation of truth in any society, without having to have every detail of truth decided upon, or figured out. And part of that truth says that we’re to look out for one another, and bring out the best in others. And to gently, but fervently hold ourselves and others to the high ideals of a life of integrity. A life of honor. One that raises the bar of acceptable behavior, not waving the white flag to behavior that everyone knows is wrong. It’s hard work. But if we do the hard thing, we’ll save our nation.

Town And Country Magazine

Once the Golden Rule is rejected, no other philosophy, religion or approach to life can hold a society together without dictatorial rule. As a country, do we want that? Do we want fascism? Communism? That is not who we are. Or, is that where we’re headed? Shall we so easily give away the great freedom we’ve been given?

In God’s great love for us, he’s shown us the way to avoid the horror of communistic rule, and that is to live by the Golden Rule. Will we take this gift and apply it? Will you commit to doing so in your own life?

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Who Removed My Coat?

Who Removed My Coat?

In a ministries class I once took at Azusa Pacific University, we studied the life and work of Mother Teresa. Her early work took place in one of the poorest places on earth at the time; Calcutta, India. We watched films of her and her fellow nuns as they carefully removed emaciated souls from the streets. They offered affection, food and water. Much to my amazement though, some of those barely alive were smiling as they received the care. They appeared to be dead as they lied on the streets, but they were alive enough to express appreciation for the love shown.

Years later, Mother Teresa made the controversial move to New York City to care for the poor. They showed footage of her work in this vast city. Most of the poor in New York already had housing, we’re far from starving and had their basic needs met. One big difference though; they weren’t smiling. They appeared devoid of any joy or gratitude. They seemed dead in fact. Not in body like those on the streets of Calcutta, but in spirit. Mother Teresa went on to say that the United States suffers from the worst kind of poverty; spiritual poverty.

God desires to clothe you and me with his righteousness in part to protect us from the deceptions of this life. And that includes the deception of the glitter of gold. And the Word reminds with little subtlety that a thief is indeed real and ready to remove our coat.

Caught in the Storm

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:9-11

So how does this evil force called Satan actually steal from us? One common way is through creating a counterfeit idea of what a full life is. And too many fall for a monetary model of success apart from spiritual fulfillment, even in the church. I have seen far too many good church attending Christians allow their ambitions to take up all the space in their heart. They no longer are excited about the things of God, no longer want to even talk about God and they lose their taste for his precious word. They just can’t get their minds off the pursuit of the American Dream. And their spiritual life is neatly tucked into a 2 hour time slot each Sunday morning.

Some of us tend to get into trouble when Gods blessings become more important than our personal connection with God. When God is no longer our first love, the very reason we lift our head off the pillow each day. In the process, we allow the coat of protection from deception to be removed. So how do we make sure that the wealth we’re surrounded by doesn’t smother out our understanding of what a full life really is?

Part of the answer is found in the words of the Apostle Paul. He faced the same temptations and struggles we do. And in a letter to the Corinthians, he makes a insightful statement that hints to the reason for his spiritual survival;

“And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” 1 Corinthians 15: 30-31 NKJV

Paul saw the need to die to his human nature everyday that he may avoid the deception of a life apart from God. Though we live in a very wealthy country in general and we ourselves may be enjoying our own success, we must deny our success in a way that we don’t live by it. It’s taken me years to learn not to look to the blessings themselves, but to the one who blesses. It’s that simple.

As we live by the spirit of God each day and deny the very flesh that thrives within, this is when our witness will matter the most. If we’re not resisting effectively, we won’t be the light God has called us to be.

I like the imagery of a coat because when I take heart and soul to God, when I bask in his Word and contemplate his excellence and beauty, and when I care more about what he thinks than anyone else, I feel as if God has placed the coat of love, hope and peace on my back. And then I know what it’s like for God to provide for me well beyond monetary success.

When this happens, my bitterness fades. My greed subsides. My anxious spirit softens. The worries I would normally carry disappear and my whole being finds a balance only God can arrange. My poverty of spirit becomes one of wealth. And once again, I have eyes of abundance for Gods bountiful gifts and generosity. Don’t be fooled by the counterfeit life that the evil one would dangle before our eyes, it’s far too shallow and hardly sufficient for what God desires for you and me.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Matthew 6:32-34 NKJ

Don’t let anyone or anything remove the coat God has placed on you.

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