2020 and 2021 has been full of Headline News. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic that has caused nothing but fear, anxiety, and division amongst so many. Enter the race riots and politics and we have had a really rough time as a Nation here in the United States. Just this week our Capital was stormed by some individuals and a few people were seriously injured and even killed. In times like these there are always an abundance of perspectives, opinions, and beliefs. As a Pastor I haven’t said much to anyone but this blog outlines my take on how many of us should navigate our way through these times.
My first thought for you is to 1. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19). God wants us to be quick to listen to Him! In fact, context for James 1:19 is about applying the Word of God that is inside of us. So, if you get one thing from this point it is to listen to God, know and apply the Scriptures, and be earnest, patient, and persistent in your prayer life.
As a Pastor, I find that people often times forms their spiritual beliefs and theology from other people instead of from God or God’s Word. Even worse, many of these people aren’t trained Pastors or Bible teachers. Let me be blunt, Trump was our Nations leader but he is not our spiritual leader. God is. Trump is not our spiritual advisor or teacher. Your local Pastor (if he or she is living and walking in the Spirit) can be a great source of truth and bibilical wisdom but even still, is not equal to the weight we should put into listening to God Himself. God can speak through our commissioned pastors and staff as well as others but you really need to be discerning because no pastor or religous leader is always correct. A pastor is hopefully less likely to not take God’s Word out of context and therefore should be a more credible source for giving you wisdom on how to live in these days.
So who do I listen to about Covid-19? Doctors duh! Infectious disease experts duh! Trained medical staff duh! In other words, we should all be quick to listen to the experts whom God has given the gifts, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to handle the things we are not the experts in. I know, there are doctors who are divided on how we should handle Covid-19 but I didn’t say you had to form an opinion or make a decision. I am just saying we need to be quick to listen to all sides who speak from a credible standpoint. There are many voices who are not credible who are speaking. Therefore, sometimes it is a challenge to know who to listen to. We also have a tendency as humans to listen mainly to those who suit what our ears want to hear. Therefore, being quick to listen in these times for me has always been an earnest, patient, and persistent ear towards the Holy Spirit or God’s Word to speak into my life.
Politics is so tricky. Messy. Ugly! We are dealing with different parties that have different views on how money should be used, what should be taxed, how health care should be set up, and so much more. Sometimes these difference in views do not really infringe on our morals and at other times politics does cross over into our religious convictions. Again, the principle to be quick to listen to God must take major priority over listening to politicians. You do not have to take sides or form an opinion on everything! It’s okay to not know. A humble person is okay with not knowing everything. The next part of James 1:19 says to be slow to speak. This is something I know a lot of people struggle with. It’s easy to just get on social media and post how you feel and what you think. One person’s post then influences support and agreement or causes division and debate amongst others. It then makes the third part of the verse hard to apply. Be slow to anger. No one wants to be wrong or told their beliefs are wrong. They way we feel and see things is something we want to protect and we take it personal when others do not agree with us. Honestly, the best way to prevent anger is for people to learn not to speak so quickly.
This leads to my second important point. Be humble! Proverbs 11:2 states that pride leads to disgrace or dishonor but humility leads to wisdom. The Bible is a narrative of God’s people who were stiff necked (stubborn) and prideful. Their lack of faith in God paried with their selfish desires and fears lead them to seek, trust, and believe in anything and anyone but God. For example, they often times put trust in idols or another nation like Egypt. The sought out deliverance, help, and prosperity from other nations.
I have found in my own study as a Pastor and as a Runner that humility must be a top priority. Having a complete and perfect understanding of God’s Word and flawless theology is not possible. Likewise, having the perfect knowledge and expertise to train all runners to be great is not possible. I have to tell my students often that I don’t know or that maybe there are multiple ways to do something. There will and will always be such a diverse view in spiritual matters and in running philosophy. Now think about it, there will always be a diverse view and philosophy in how our country should be lead and run.
I can’t as a pastor declare I know what God’s will and plan is for our nation. Being a majority lead democartic nation or having a democratic Presisent does not mean that our nation will not have God’s blessings anymore nor does it necesarily mean this is not God’s will. I see time and time again in Scripture that God uses other pagan nations to lead and influence and even govern over His own people. Second, the birth and leadership of Jesus was not a forceful take over and freedom from Roman rule. Instead, God’s Kingdom is applied through the Church and individual application of each disciple of Jesus. God’s Kingdom rules one by one in each and everyone one of us as His Spirit reigns over us. The way I see so many Christians reacting to this pandemic and to the politics of this world, I can tell that Jesus is not reigning over their hearts and minds. It doesn’t reflect the peacemakers mentality or filled with the fruit of the Spirit life.
God is about souls! This world will pass away and Jesus is coming back. This marks my third and final points. This is where I center myself in my day to day race spiritually. We are accountable to our own relationship with God. So, go earnestly pursue Him! Secondly, it is always more important to busy yourself in the Gospel work as Jesus was than in the politics. I am not saying we don’t vote or boldly speak our beliefs. I am just saying that don’t miss that God is sovereign and our life, energy, and prayers need to be directed towards Him. At the end of the day we don’t change our leaders, or other people’s opinions and beliefs, nor do we necesarily change circumstances like fix a pandemic or end political division. If changes will be made, God will do what He wills to do. At the end of the day we do want to look back and see that we spent time intimately with Jesus, showed compassion to our neighbors, helped others in need, and pushed forward in making disciples.
Love God and love people! This means the greatest things we can do because of love is to be a humble, serving, and sacrificial people. Hold the faith in God friends. In this it is hard, it’s like running a marathon…a mighty challenge. Yet, this perseverance in our suffering makes character and character leads to hope. Hope in God gives us all what we most desperatly really want. What we most need, wether we realize it or not, is God pouring His love into our hearts through His Holy Spirit (Romans 5:3-5). Isn’t this the real test of these times? It isn’t what we must do to continue to live the same life we had before but how can we rest in Him as we let God lead us through difficult times that were given as an opporunity for us to grow in our relationship with Him and as a Church.