“Unrest Versus True Rest”
UNREST VERSES TRUE REST
By Joe Truitt
Unless you are living in some remote cave completely cut off from civilization, you know that there is a lot of anger and hate in the air right now. Watching the Bronco’s game yesterday, I noticed that most of the commercial breaks I saw were littered with hate filled political ads telling us why so and so was evil and would lead our state or country into a downward spiral. Or how one would be a complete idiot if they voted for a particular proposition or amendment. And I thought to myself, “Why do people act this way? Why can’t we all just get along?” As Kenny Chesney would sing.
Then I remembered just one day earlier when my wife and daughter were with me in the car as I was driving along and spotted a bumper sticker that promoted a political notion that I am against. My immediate action was to verbally spew just how stupid that idea was and that the person driving that car was completely out of their mind, almost as if I thought that person could actually hear me. What is true though is that my wife and daughter did hear me.
No sooner had those words left my mouth when I looked over to Marla and said, “Would you listen to me? I am sitting here doing the very thing that I can’t stand to hear other people do.” Is it wrong to have political beliefs and to take a stance on issues? Absolutely not! Is it wrong to voice your opinion on those issues? Again, absolutely not! Where it becomes a problem is when our beliefs and opinions cause us to treat other human beings like they are a waste of human skin.
And then I thought, “Boy, it sure is a good thing that we don’t behave this way when it comes to our religious thoughts and beliefs.” Okay, sit back down in the chair that you just fell out of and stop laughing. That was a joke…and one that is totally not funny. There is a reason why so many people choose to avoid talking about politics and religion, and that is because both are polarizing.
Isn’t it sad that we have allowed the way we treat each other in our biblical differences to mirror how we treat others who are politically different from us? And, this is nothing new. All you have to do is look back at history to see just how much hatred has been carried out due to religious differences. Nations have been divided; wars have been fought; and people, even today in our civilized humanitarian society, are experiencing great loss due to these religious differences.
I’ve been there; I was the poster boy of the “I’m right and everyone who disagrees with me is wrong” mindset. I viewed anyone who had a different understanding of Scripture than I had as hell bound and hopeless. I was no better than those who thrived on having debates with those of differing schools of thought. Those debates were all about proving who was right and who was wrong. They were enveloped under a cloud of animosity and judgment, and yet, for some reason, we thought showing people just how wrong they were was what we were put on this earth to do.
Thankfully, I have discovered that I wasn’t put on this earth to prove my “rightness” to the wayward thinking. There is a better way to live; a way that produces the good fruit of the Spirit rather than the rotten fruit of the “religious”. John says, “Dear friends, let us continue to love those who are like-minded…” Wait a minute, I’m reading out of the wrong translation there. That is from the NIRYW translation: New I’m Right You’re Wrong translation.
Here’s what John really says, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 JN 4:7-8).
I read this passage, and in other passages, I read of how Jesus interacted with people…all kinds of people; the good, the bad, and the ugly. And nowhere do I read of Jesus ridiculing or condemning someone because of their lifestyle or sin. Oh, except where he got onto the “religious” people who thought they were the only ones who were right and who tried to make everyone think just like they did.
Please hear what I am saying here. I am not saying that it is wrong to have convictions about the teachings of Scripture. I have convictions; things to which I hold that I truly believe to be right and true; things that a lot of folks would disagree with, but I refuse to allow myself to use those convictions as a bully to beat someone into a relationship with Jesus. The only thing I believe I have ever accomplished by doing that was scaring someone into doing something because they were afraid of what God would do to them if they didn’t.
John said God is love. He is my heavenly Dad who wants nothing more than to have that close, intimate relationship that no other dad and son could have. And He wants that equally with everyone. I choose to allow my relationship with Jesus to pour love out of me rather than hate; kindness rather than animosity; encouragement rather than ridicule.
So, in this current time of political unrest, let me encourage you to experience true rest in the loving arms of Jesus. And the next time you are tempted to lash out at someone who disagrees with you, choose to love. You have nothing to lose but an ugly interaction that produces nothing good.