A version of this article first appeared in Seriously Write.
Consider the political battle that broke out on my Facebook profile after the first presidential debate. Emotions were hot. Conflict was sharp. I had to remove some from the conversation, for their comments were derogatory and smacked of racism. And then, two days later, shocking us all, the President and the First Lady tested positive for COVID19, throwing everything up into the air and reshaping the rest of this campaign.
In this combative time of conflict in our nation, a sense of uncertainty can often be overwhelming. Peace and tranquility seem to be in the distant past. In the sixties and early seventies similar strife threatened to tear apart our country. Racial protests, then and now, were sparked by egregious wrongs that must be righted. These require creative solutions.
Combative political discourse enflames the situation, making it nearly impossible to find common ground. And then, there’s the pandemic, which somehow became politicized. This decreased our nation’s ability to combat it, and so now, over 7,549,682 of us have been or are currently sick, and we have more than 211,793 dead loved ones.
How can peace possibly enter this situation? Where do we find hope?
A lesson from the past is informative. Richard Baxter was an English Puritan pastor who lived from 1615-1691, a time of great difficulty in England and in Scotland with Protestants and Catholics pitted against one another during the reign of Charles II.
Many pastors were put to death or imprisoned, often for simply not following governmental restrictions about where they were allowed to preach and to meet. And yet during this time, Richard Baxter established a rare path of peace.
Richard Baxter lived this: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in both, charity.” This is broader, yet somewhat similar to what Martin Luther said: “Peace, if possible; truth, at all costs.”
God has us here for a purpose. He has given us the task of writing what is good, what is right, and what is pleasing to him. We have a mission from God during this time of upheaval, just as writers did during the 9/11 disaster, the Civil Rights Movement, previous times of war, and other national crises both before and during our lifetimes.
As Coretta Scott King said, “Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation.”Coretta Scott King said, “Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won; you earn it and win it in every generation.” #BlackLivesDOMatter #Freedom Click To Tweet
Writers are essential. Someone must proclaim the truth. Someone must relay the facts. Someone must inspire people to continue to go forward during the most difficult times of our nation. Someone must motivate others toward love and good deeds.
That is us. We have been given this task. This is our sacred duty. How will we fulfill it?
The inspirational quotes by Richard Baxter and by Martin Luther only matter to us if we believe in objective truth. As followers of Christ, we do.
We believe in the Word of God and the promises contained therein. The creeds spell out the essentials, the truths, of our professions of faith. The Apostles’ Creed and The Lord’s Prayer, for instance, profess the most basic essentials of Christian faith.
So, how do we apply these truths to our choices and our political decisions when all the news outlets only give shaded versions of the truth, in essence, commentary? How much time do we spend fact checking before retweeting or posting something we’ve read?
In essentials, unity. Peace, if possible.
Truth, at all costs. In non-essentials, liberty.
Charity over all. Charity means love, kindness, compassion, believing the best of others, and choosing to prioritize unity and oneness with others during a disagreement.In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. Charity over all. Charity means love, kindness, compassion, believing the best of others, and choosing unity and oneness with others during disagreements. #Unity #KindnessMatters Click To Tweet
What are societal essentials? Consider the political and social fights happening now, as occurred on my Facebook profile.
Do personal preferences and insistence on having our own way drive these conflicts? Do we display hypocrisy in our position, refusing to do what’s best for others in a situation, when we insisted that others do so toward us in the past? Is this even something we should be fighting about or causing division over, rather than seeking the greater good that is best for all?
What is our motive in all of this? What are the Lord’s most important directives to us? How can we be Christian peacemakers?
“Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these’” (Mark 12:29-31 ESV).How can we be Christian peacemakers? You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, & strength…You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There's no other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:29-31). Click To Tweet
During this difficult time, let’s obey these greatest commands based upon the love of God and one another, aiming our readers and friends and loved ones toward unity, tolerance, kindness, and love for harmony.
This challenge will require us to pray and to call upon the Lord to help us to soften our hearts, to yield the floor to one another, to listen, and to be kind.
“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 ESV)
How are you dealing with the struggle to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with God?
How has the strife in our nation been a challenge to you? How are you finding ways to find peace in Christ and to bring peace to others?