By Pastor Kevin Van Wyk
We have two cats that live mostly outside, but lately they’ve not wanted to go out much. So, if we are leaving or going to bed, we occasionally have a good chase through the living room. Once they are caught, you must be prepared for the claws to come out. Maybe they are afraid, but mostly I think they want what they want.
Dogs, on the other hand, tend to bite while they are playing or threatened. Growing up, my family’s mixed mutt, Euler, did just that. He was pretty harmless, as he was not much bigger than our cats, but he loved to play tug-a-war and nip at you in play. I remember a few times when he would bare his teeth and growl. He was threatened and not happy.
We are not much different. When I feel threatened, afraid, denied, questioned, or disrespected, my fight or flight responses flare up. I either want to retaliate and hurt the one who hurt me, or I want to walk away. I am learning to be “slow to anger” (Jame 1:19) and to take time to pray before responding.
Part of the challenge we all face is the heightened animosity in our culture. If you can step back from your political positions for a moment and really listen to what is being said on the news and social media, you’ll see the hostility boiling up from all sides. Some are able to disengage from all this and surround themselves with like-minded folks, but even then the conversation seems to slide into a disheartened attack of others.
Our nation is polarized. Our state is antagonistic. Our community is divided. And James says to us…
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. (James 4:1-2 ESV)
Ouch! James not only bluntly confronts us on our self-seeking motives, but our lack of prayer. Oh Lord, forgive me for seeking what I want and not seeking Your will in prayer.
After this scathing rebuke, James confronts another issue…
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 ESV)
James does not want us to abandon Godly convictions and simply acquiesce to the cultures immoral views. We need a backbone and heart. The challenge is how to be in the world, but not of the world.
• When should believers stand their ground?
• Are there issues we need to let go of?
• Are there issues we need to confront more aggressively?
This is the tension I plan to address in a series after Easter. Join me for…
• “Living in Babylon: How to thrive in an anti-christian culture” Sunday mornings, April 11-May 2.
• “We Will Not Be Silenced: Responding with Courage to Our Culture's Assault on Christianity” A book discussion on Sundays @ 6:30PM. April 18 (Chap. 1-4), 25 (Chap. 5-7) & May 2 (Chap. 8-10) See below on getting a book.
Lord, help us navigate the tension in our culture. Give us wisdom to know what is right and the grace to walk with others who disagree. Helps us to be slow to anger and willing to listen carefully. As well, help us to be courageous in standing for truth.
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