By Dennis Bates
I have steadfastly refrained from turning this blog into some type of political forum, and I will continue to do so. For one thing, it just isn’t the purpose for which this site was formed; for another, my blogging partner and I would never see eye to eye. That’s fine with me; honest debate and enlightened discussions are part of what makes this country great.
However, no matter whom you supported or who you voted for, this day, Inauguration Day, belongs to us and it is uniquely American. This is the day when there is a voluntary and peaceful handover of power from the defeated to the victor. In some cases it celebrates retention of power for the same reason. Such is not the case this year. There is a change this year, and whether you embrace it or fear it, the change in leadership has occurred.
This year’s change is an historic one, but I won’t dwell on that because all the other pundits and talking heads have been talking about it for weeks and will continue to do so. Neither will I address the stirring invocation by Pastor Rick Warren, who proved that our new President knew exactly what he was doing when he extended him the invitation to give it.
The impassioned inauguration speech also could be the source for comment, but if taken in total it could be construed as political commentary, and I promised not to do that. But I do want to comment on one small snippet from that speech, and interestingly enough it was specifically addressed to Muslims, not Christians, although I think it could have easily been applied to both groups for different reasons.
Check the transcript of the text if you want the exact wording, but a close paraphrase of that snippet went something like this: To all the Muslims in the world, you will be judged by what you can build, not by what you can destroy.
When you think back to the horror of 911 or the senseless bloodshed of suicide bombings, attacks on embassies , and the like, it is easy to understand how that phrase applies to terrorists who seek “salvation” and justification by murdering innocent people. It is nearly impossible for me to believe that people who claim to be peaceful and loving base those claims on brutal, senseless murders.
However, at one point in the New Testament when Jesus instructed his disciples he offered the following observation, which is again a paraphrase: He told those listening to him, you have heard that it is wrong to kill your brother and that is true, but he who hates his brother murders him in his heart, and that is just as bad.
Our Lord knew that unless we fixed our hearts, nothing changed. We overlook that as Christians far too many times. For purposes of this blog let’s limit our considerations to Christians dealing with other Christians. Even in those circles we have difficulties. As Christians, do we try to build up fellow believers, or are we spiritual terrorists seeking to destroy their doctrines, their traditions, their practices?
Why do the denominations who all claim to worship the risen Christ so furiously rage against one another? Why do they seek to discredit and find fault instead of give credit and find the commonality that allows us all to wrap ourselves in the magnificent grace that God has provided? I won’t go into specifics at this time or point at any particular denomination or group. We all fail miserably, and in our failures we leave openings for Satan to gain footholds.
If we as Christians spent half as much time loving each other as we do finding fault with each other; if the Pentecostals, Catholics, Methodists or any of the other dozens of denominations out there would come together to build on what we have in common rather than try to destroy each other because of our differences, then we would leave no openings for evil, and the world would be better for it. At least the people in this world, will judge Christians by what we build, not by what we destroy, and even though God is our ultimate judge, we are His representatives here and I’m sure He wouldn’t mind it if we represented Him better.