Sabbath Thought - Honor the King
My parents started attending the Worldwide Church of God in the late 1960s. This country was going through a time of great social upheaval then - not unlike what we are going through now. In the late 1960s there were the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King; college campuses were erupting with protests against the Vietnam War (with the infamous Kent State shootings); the drug culture coming out of the hippie movement was going mainstream; feminism was challenging gender equality and social norms; Israel successfully defended itself in the 1967 War; the 1968 Democratic Convention ended in violence; the Cold War was heating up around the world; the Space Race was on; and race riots raged in major cities.
The 1970s didn't end on a high note either, but there is no disagreement that the United States changed dramatically in the span of just one decade. Who knows what the outcome of just this year will be. Gender has been redefined by the U.S. Supreme Court; the Black Lives Matter movement has moved forward the possibility of many major cities defunding their police departments; the COVID-19 virus is redefining how businesses, schools, churches, and even social activities are done; and the "cancel culture" is dividing this country in ways not seen since the 1960s. Even more troubling is the level of anger and violence that is permeating our society.
But let me bring this down to a personal level. We have a responsibility collectively and individually as God's people. I see members immersed in the anger and politics on all sides of the issues pressing hard on this nation, and that should not be. I see members dismissing any concern of the COVID virus and having no compassion for other members who do have legitimate health concerns. I see members who have used this COVID situation as an excuse to remove themselves from any contact or interaction (even remotely) with other members. I am sad because if this is how we are behaving now, what will we do when things get as bad as we know they will be in the end-time?
God's people are called to come out of the world around us (Revelation 18:4), but it is hard not to care (one way or another) about the various issues impacting our nation. We are not to be driven by fear (2 Timothy 1:7) which means God's plan of salvation needs to override any emotional reaction to seeing this world degrade. We are to pray for one another (James 5:16) and for the leadership in this nation (1 Timothy 2:1-2). These prayers are not to change others to what we think should be, but rather that we can be strengthened and unified as a family, and that while we live in this nation we can lead a quiet and peaceable life (1 Peter 2:17) so we can become more like our Father and His Son.
I was surprised at the reaction I received when I sent out the email about the city of Milwaukee requiring face masks for all public gatherings. Let me paraphrase the Apostle Paul in considering wearing (or not wearing) a face mask: "But (not wearing a face mask) does not commend us to God, for neither if we (wear a face mask) are we the better, nor if we do not (wear a face mask) are we the worse. But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours (being able to wear, or not wear, a face mask) become a stumbling block to those who (wish to follow the directives of the authorities or have legitimate concerns)." (1 Corinthians 8:8-9).
Let us not be divided. We are to be known by our love for each other (1 John 13:35). We are to honor the king (again, 1 Peter 2:17) and those in authority around us. If indeed, we are a disciple of Christ, then we have no business embracing the vitriol the world uses to denigrate those they disagree with. The time will come when the civil authorities will tell us to do things in clear opposition to what God instructs, and at that time each of us will have to decide if we are going to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). Until then, may we learn to love one another (1 John 4:7) so when the truly dark times come we are able to stand in God's strength and be there for each other.
I wish you a meaningful Sabbath,
17 July, 2020