I often push back against "do better" sermons or messages because the focus on "doing" often obscures the equally important message of "being."
I remind our church family that we want to "Be" like Christ AND "Do" like Christ. This is the bullseye of Christian discipleship. Be and Do like Jesus would. Our doing should flow from our being.
So with that in mind, here is the letter. May God use it to strengthen his Church to love one another around the corner and around the world.
Family of Grace, greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who lives in and through us for his glory and our good.I write this to you in the midst of difficult times. My goal is to challenge the Church—that is followers of Jesus Christ—to remember who God is (and who we are in light of that) so that we live better where we live, work, and play.This is not just a good goal. It is a better way. A better call-to-arms than those I am hearing these days. Arms not full of weapons of war but arms locked in love with our neighbor.While reality is somewhere between what I see on the news and what I see out of my window, clearly we can do better as a nation—a people who were once mostly united to live out our noble and founding ideals.Dis-easeDisease occurs when the body, mind, and/or soul finds itself in distress. Anxious. Dis-eased. We are a people living in dis-ease right now.Clearly COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. Even as states like ours re-open and people relax from their vigilance, we are seeing our infection rates and the number of deaths spike. I get that people want to move on. But when we drop our guard, we are working against that actually happening.We can do better.Neither, it seems is our racial unrest going away anytime soon. Legitimate change needs to happen in how we relate to each other. Structural, systemic, and legal change needs to continue to be made.We can do better.Then there is Election 2020 in five months. Can our nation survive this year without imploding?But are these our greatest challenges?True, transformative, systemic, and lasting change is only going to come through transformed hearts.Only Jesus Christ can do that.Remember how Jesus confronted our world? It was not from a position of power. He humbled himself. The Creator coming down to his created. He served the least, the last, and the lost of our world even while he confronted injustice, hate, and those in power who were perpetuating these ills.Jesus confronted systemic injustices in our world without weapons, without money, and without earthly power. He instead confronted on his knees with divine power, love, and self-control.We can do better.The need for faithful people to rise up speaking the gospel fluently is urgent.Words are flying across our screens, through megaphones, across bars and counters, checkout lines, and gas pumps. We gesture and yell things to each other giving into our human passions with little or no self-control or thought for the consequences of those words. We are wounding our nation—each other. A civil war of words is underway.We can do better.Best neighbor ever?SC is spiking as we re-open. Are we part of the problem or part of the solution? Would it really be so horrible to wear your mask while in indoor public spaces? Can I better love my neighbor?Black Americans are hurting. Would it be so hard for us white Americans to express our love and support to them that they are people made in the image of God like everyone else? That this nation is better with them than without them. And that while we may not be able to empathize with what they have been through, we can still weep with those who weep and listen sympathetically to their stories. Can I be a better neighbor?Many people, if not most, try to find their security in their government. They look there for protection from our enemies and for a vision for a future of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.As a result, the political debate in our nation is alive—but not well. Can we not disagree without being disagreeable? Can we not debate issues without making character assassinations? Can we not love our neighbor as ourselves?I believe we can do better.My AppealThis is my appeal to those who say they live by a higher law: The law of love; The law of Christ.How do we do this? I humbly submit a few suggestions.1. Others first.Wear a mask for others, if not for yourself.Encourage a fellow American who feels attacked, vulnerable or unheard. Maybe a black entrepreneur or a white police officer.Treat and debate your political opponents with respect. Whether you think they deserve it or not. They are people too.2. Listen to each other. Actively. Trying to step into their shoes. Listen to their stories. Try to empathize.3. Start today where you live, work, and play.Watching the news tempts me to feel like our nation is a dumpster fire right now. It is not. Look around. Take a deep breath. Love the people where you live, work, and play. These are your neighbors.4. Keep the Son in your eyes.When we look at life through the red filter of Jesus Messiah coming down to give his life, it replaces our dis-ease with Christ-ease—the peace that transcends all understanding.Let’s do better.