Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Un-dividing America

Are Americans really that divided or are we more deceived than divided?
We hear people say, “America is so divided.”   This certainly has some truth to it, but I think some alternative perspectives on it are needed.  
There is both a perception aspect and a deception aspect to the problems facing America.  America’s founding is based on principles understood by fewer and fewer of its citizens.  At the same time we have voices against these principles becoming louder and louder.  
I recently read former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley’s book called With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace.  Her personal story is inspiring, and her views of American values provide great insights for solving the divided America today.  
Those like Nikki Haley who hold close to the values of the founding fathers of the USA hold one value that in my opinion, stands out to provide a foundation for all the rest.  Respecting God and his ways is of utmost importance, and close to that is valuing God’s supremacy as the source of absolute truth.  When society loses truth as its compass, it is lost beyond repair.  Our greatest danger is our disrespect and mishandling of truth.  
Nikki Haley reiterates that truth is the basis for all freedoms and human rights issues in our world.  A powerful book on the importance of truth is Andy Andrews book called, “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?”   He explains how the truth of the past shapes the reality of how we live and govern today.  People may ask, “Does the truth really matter?”  To answer that question, he asks, “How do you kill 11 million people?”  He is referring to the holocaust of Jews and those in resistance efforts killed by the Nazi regime in Europe during the 1940’s.  Many other dictators have killed many millions of people in many places in the past, and incidents continue today.  
Andrews suggests the answer to the question above begs an answer to the following, “How do 11 million people allow themselves to be killed?”  In Andrews words,  the answer “is breathtakingly simple …. lie to them.”   Andrews recounts how the Nuremberg trials revealed how the Jews were systematically lied to in order to gain their cooperation.  The entire German population had been brainwashed to receive a socialist message of government control.   Deception became commonplace.  Andrews says, “Speaking truth should be the least we require of our elected leaders.  After all, what are our standards for being led?  You see, the danger to America is not a single politician with ill intent, or even a group of them.  The most dangerous thing any nation faces is a citizenry capable of trusting a liar to lead them. In the long run it is much easier to undo the policies of crooked leadership than to restore common sense and wisdom to a deceived population willing to elect such a leader in the first place.”    The many probing questions he provides for us to ask ourselves is well worth getting a copy of the book.  
Anything less than the truth is a lie.  Lying is evil. Evil is a very present force in our world.  Truth verses lies is a good verses evil struggle.  Martin Luther King said, “the time is always right to do the right thing.”  I would say it is always right to resist evil.  Another quote says taking action against evil (lies and a culture of lying) is absolutely essential.  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing” (Edmund Burke).
As I write this, the US Senate has been asked by the US House to conduct a “trial” for the impeachment of our President.  For many reasons, articulated by many “good” people, and too many to enumerate here, the actions being taken are motivated by nothing more than a political party dissatisfied with the results of an election of a President that didn’t go their way.  Their premise is based on falsehood, and the lies get bigger and bigger.  
As Americans, we must ask ourselves, “How did we get here?”  “Where is the truth in this matter, and where are the lies?”  “How do we discern the difference?”  I think the answers to these questions will lead us to ask, “How did we Americans allow this so-called impeachment trial to become a mockery of our system of government, and failure to the very people the US Congress pro-ports to represent?”    Each of us as individuals should be asking, “What is my role, and what actions do I take, to proclaim the truth (in this matter and all matters like it)?”
We have at least one opportunity this year to speak.  The November elections are coming up.  If you are not registered to vote, get registered.  Plan to vote, but before voting, seek and discern the truth.  Evil (lying) rings louder in many voices traditionally relied upon for information.  Creating deeper divides among the people in America is one of the intentions of the evil practice of fake news, misinformation, emotional manipulation, and deception practiced commonly by the establishment media.    
   My final comments are directed especially to readers in the Christian faith.  As Pat Robertson on the broadcasts of the 700 Club warns repeatedly, “A house divided cannot stand,” a phrase based on Jesus teaching in Matthew 12:25.   Unity of faith in Jesus and the teachings of Scripture is a powerful force, but we must also keep in mind the powerful forces of “dis”unity.  Disunity is not an option.  Disunity destroys.  The absence of unity places us in the hands of evil.  The Body of Christ must unify around the essentials of the gospel, and not allow the worldly seeds of division grow in our midst.  Political discord, earthly government policy disagreements, and public personality styles, should not be influencing our ability to relate to one another and act as one voice in prioritizing  biblical truth and godly values.  
The way I see it, a divided Church is much more problematic than a divided America.  According to Jesus’ teaching in John 17 and elsewhere in the Bible, Christian unity is the solution for America (or any divided people group).  When Christian unity fails, the world is let down.  
Christian unity begins in the heart of each individual.  Each must cultivate a heart that is undivided, fully devoted, and loving the Lord their God above all else (see Matthew 22:27).  This devotion to God requires transformation of our hearts.   I wrote an article specifically on how the Bible addresses the link between transformation and unity of believers in Christ (see ).   
As Christ summed up the 10 commandments into two (see Matthew 22), after loving God is loving people.  We must be unified in our commitment to love.  It must be love defined by God and not be the world’s standards.  Everything Jesus taught and did is motivated by, and demonstrates, God’s love.  He now empowers us through the Holy Spirit to show the world this love.  
Unity also recognizes the common enemy.  The real enemy is not people, and not even people who regularly practice evil (including lying).  The real enemy is the devil and his demonic forces (see Ephesians 6).  The Bible calls the devil the “father of lies.”  The devil is the chief liar.  This is where our real struggle lies.  Each of us must not be hesitant about holding others accountable in speaking truth, and allow others to hold us accountable as well.  We all fall short, and need each other to keep the enemy’s work out of our speech and actions.  We are all prone to self-deception, which is by definition lying to ourselves.  
Sometimes the gullibility of Christians to believe false or mis-appropriated Bible teaching, creates huge and unnecessary lie-based divisions.  If the devil’s tactic is to divide, we must resist by discerning the truth of the Bible and act wisely.  Wisdom only comes from truth, not falsehood.  We must recognize how vulnerable our human nature is to deception, and be intentional about resisting falsehood.  In my view, Christians tolerate way too much evil in such forms as pornography, other addictions like “functional” alcoholism, “work”-o-holism, immorality, yoga, Santeria, and other dark practices.  At best, the vices of this world dull our ability to discern truth, and at worst, their deceptive lure separates us from the salvation God provides through Jesus Christ to escape the fiery judgment of hell.  
Unity also means our relationship with God, and service to Him, is for the purpose of harvest.  God is the harvester of souls and he uses us in the harvest.  Jesus taught that we are salt and light in this world.  Our purpose for being is not to gratify self, but to glorify God.  Truth matters because God’s name is at stake.  Truth is God’s reality.  We are to bring his reality into the realities of our existence in this world wherever possible.  
    In summary, deceit is dividing America.  Lies are a most destructive enemy.  The solution is to commit to truth in our personal lives and our institutions and community life.  God is the supreme absolute Truth.  Understanding and practicing God’s ways is the foundation for discerning truth.  As the Bible teaches, Jesus, “is the Way, the Truth, and the Life”  (John 14:6).  As Christ followers, we must pursue greater transformation to Christ likeness in our personal lives and unify as the Body of Christ for the sake of saving a broken world.   

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry