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Thoughts About the 4thby Duane Mabee on June 30, 2022
Happy 4th of July! I don’t usually take this space to talk about national or “Hallmark” holidays, but things are different these days and we need to think about what it means to be Christlike in a nation that is so deeply divided. Having been in a number of other countries, I still believe this is a great nation, but not everyone agrees. Not all Americans are celebrating our nation today. While our true citizenship is in Christ’s Kingdom, God has also graciously allowed us to be citizens of and ambassadors to this nation. He wants us to be actively involved in seeking what is best for the nation as a whole.
Christ’s coming to earth and how He conducted Himself give us clear pictures of what we should be to those around us. Philippians 2 describes how He humbled Himself and sought what was best for us, even at great cost to Himself. He modeled attitudes of love, encouragement, affection, sympathy, joy, and humility. He was not selfishly ambitious or conceited. He made our interests and what was best for us a high priority. He set aside His glory and came as a servant. He willingly paid the ultimate sacrifice for us.
We generally view Philippians 2 as instructions about how we should treat each other in the Church, and it is, but it is also about how we should interact with those outside of the Church. Verses 14-18 make that clear.
The rapid increase in hatred and divisiveness between those who disagree is not good for our nation, but it is coming from all angles and its rage is alarming. Being Christlike, we should seek to stem the tide of that divisiveness. We should not be drawn into it, nor should we add to it unnecessarily. Instead, like Jesus, we should prioritize building bridges and relationships of respect and understanding – even with those with whom we will never agree. Building bridges and relationships, without compromising our standards, will allow us to lead toward solutions the world cannot attain. It will show people Who Jesus really is and create opportunities for us to introduce them to Him.
While we must seek to interact with our world the way Jesus did, we must also be prepared to be received the way Jesus was. Much of the hatred right now is being directed at the Church. As that intensifies, we must be prepared to continue loving the way Jesus loved. We need to graciously stand firm on what is true and continue to accept people who react against the truth, just like Jesus did. Jesus did not call us to correct the world, though our presence will have a corrective impact. He called us to love and reach the world so that they could be drawn to Him.
Keep looking to Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith.