The Declaration of Independence notes that we are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We want these things, we really do. Government is created to facilitate these three goals, the Declaration “declares” it. Additionally, the Declaration of Independence also states that “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it” in the event that these goals are not met. Indeed, “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
We want peace and we want security. We want fair laws, we want life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We run into problems though. We are fallen creatures, ever striving for better government. We can’t seem to get it right. So, we course correct. We try again!
We are well over two hundred years into our experiment. It has been very successful, this experiment of ours. However, we need help. We’re hurting and confused now. We don’t know where to turn, where to go. Let me explain what I mean.
First, we have the political question. Our politics are now more divided than they have ever been. The nation is bitterly divided. The President is certainly no member of the establishment. You could say he is opposed to the establishment media and the establishment political structure. He is somewhat unpredictable. I don’t think peace-making is a goal of President Trump. Argue it however you would like – he isn’t one to make conciliatory gestures. He has insulted people, made fun of people’s physical features. He hasn’t worked with Democrats. He has deepened the divide. See here for more on this question.
It is also naïve to say that the divide began with Trump – no, it only deepened. Obama inherited a divided America but did not bring the nation together – he furthered the divide. Everyone thought it was the day of reconciliation. It wasn’t. The forceful passing of Healthcare evidenced this. The line about “keeping your doctor” while undoubtedly sincere was a falsehood. See here for a special PBS did on this divide.
Our Brave New World, by definition of our own Declaration of Independence does reflect ‘we the people’. It is easy to be angry with our leadership. It is easy to be angry with someone…anyone! If we’re honest though, we have to look into the mirror.
Politically, we’re not in a good place. In 2020 COVID-19 interrupts the world. The country was totally unprepared for this. Waves of confusion and questions hit everyone at the same time. What do you do in a pandemic? Governors were suddenly faced with difficult decisions and the people were faced with orders they had never seen before “stay at home”. What? What about school, sports, church, shopping, visiting my loved ones, etc.?
As the virus season continued, people have grown frustrated. Lives were interrupted, jobs were lost, social distancing brought hesitation, fear and distrust. Loved ones are passing away. Something has fundamentally shifted in the way we do things. People are angry. People are confused. Where is this going and where is my livelihood?
To top this off, a grievous tragedy played out in Minneapolis. A man was brutally murdered by the police. He was an innocent black man. The country erupted with outrage. Perhaps it was 400 plus years of oppression. Perhaps it was a long line of black American citizens who were killed by policemen. Perhaps it was being cooped up for several months from COVID-19. Perhaps it was all of these things and more. The country is still in an uproar and the outrage is being expressed in a myriad of ways.
I watched one funeral service for George Floyd. It was touching. The people who spoke were excellent in tone and content. There was grief over the death of an innocent man. There was a call to raise one’s voice on behalf of the innocent. There was also a sharp condemnation of looting and rioting. I thought it was a gracious and sober remembrance of a good man.
Much of the nation protested or engaged in conversation of some kind in an attempt to do something about George Floyd’s unnecessary death. People are genuinely concerned for justice. However, some act and continue to act dishonorably; hurting innocent people and vandalizing private property.
In my interaction with the people I know there is a general sense of unease. This is not surprising. What is next? Are we getting back to normal? Will life ever resume normalcy? What about my employment, children, my life!!?? What do I do to express sorrow over the murder of an innocent man? I want to make a difference but how? I don’t know what is going on…at all. Unease and a sense of the unknown permeate our world. To top it off, Ravi Zacharias died last month. That hurts too. He was a good man, gracious and loving.
Our Brave New World isn’t doing so well. What is the path forward then? What is sure and what is solid? As I ask this question, I cannot help but notice the absence of Jesus in the collective global conversation. How can we even hope to get it right, if we are not considering him? It seems to me that a solid and secure life must first begin here. Has he become irrelevant or distant?
Here is where I am. I have confidence that Jesus is there. I trust. You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (Isa. 26:3). A conscious literal confidence in the person of Christ necessarily results in peace.
But…the chaos around us is so palpable. The confusion is so real. If we allow this confusion and uncertainty to take over then we become the “hunted”. We become the ones with no center – driven about, shaken, with no direction. We must choose to quietly trust. But, someone says, “Now is the time for ACTION! We must do something NOW!” Maybe not. Does this come from a sense of panic? Jesus isn’t panicking. Why should we? But…someone says, “We cannot just sit here!” Maybe we need to be quiet. Maybe this urgency is the curse itself. Yielding to impulse is to surrender one’s soul. No, let me say, “My world is under the wise and secure guidance of Jesus. There is no need to panic.”
At the core of this panic is a different worldview. It says, humanity is in control. Naturally, if this is so then it falls to me to turn things around. This view ignores Jesus – it is a practical Deism in which God is there…but not really. I have to handle things. This view is not too far removed from that worldview of the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence.
Love. Love people. Anger, frustration, and are ready responses. We’re like that warm soda can that has been shaken. Open it and there is an explosion. Here is what I can do. I can show love to my wife and kids. I can choose to not gloss over my interactions with them – I can do that. Of all my relationships, these are first.
I’ve had to check myself regularly before I go into a public place. I say, “Spirit, fill me with love and compassion, let me see people in your image.” When I don’t it is much easier to fly by people, not engage, ghost them as I tend to my goals.
Love and compassion must translate into “seeing” people. Did those policemen see George Floyd? Or, was it business as usual? One of the scourges of post-modernity is the terrible habit of putting individuals into larger groups of people – arbitrarily. With no conversation, not eye-to-eye compassionate contact, we categorize individuals with no evidence. You are in this group – you, in the other, and so on it goes. Love is declining such laziness – it manifests in one on one interaction. We must take time to see people. Love is the goal and other goals must yield to this. If love is secondary then we will not be able to “see”.
It seems to me that these two qualities are in severe deficit…today. This is how we can make a difference at personal levels. I say personal because for those who do not have a large platform – this is within reach. While the world spins with violence and confusion it may be alluring to get out there and march or yell. I’m not saying this is wrong. What I am saying is that the efficacy of such actions are limited.
What I can do is systematically and iteratively submit my soul to trusting in Jesus. And, I can then receive the peace he gives me BASED in this conscious trust. What I can do is systematically and consciously choose to love the people around me – especially my wife and kids. This is within my purview. To come off these things to chase after things that are out of reach is actually a deceptive move. It is a distraction that promises satisfaction. When in truth, the richer more valuable road is looking to Jesus and resting in him. From this place of peace and soul health we can then love others.